Pertaining to Project Management Fundamentals of the Engineering or Construction Industry
Project management is the art of directing and coordinating the human efforts and material resources while implementing a project through the use of the modern tools of management to achieve the specific objectives of time, quality, cost as well as scope. Evidently, the tasks are complex and differ from the various projects hence proper management requires effective skills in communication, knowledge of the building processes as well as the conflict resolution skills (Clough et al., 3). The main aim of the context is to discuss the specific project management fundamentals of the engineering or construction industry for instance scheduling, budgeting, finance, organization, legal issues, and conflicts.
The Role of the Project Managers
According to Gopi (13), project managers ensure that the projects become implemented smoothly. They control the work and budget plans to ensure that the projects are cost effective and timely as well as adhere to the specific industry’s regulations, standards and plans. Besides, they perform other tasks such as the scope specification, selecting the subcontractors and staff and develop the communication strategies useful in settling disputes. The roles of the managers are classified into seven categories as follows, cost management, time management, project management planning, quality management, safety management, contract administration as well as the other professional practices, for instance, defining individual roles and responsibilities. Notably, the contractors play a vital role in engineering or construction management regarding the drawings, human resources, math, time management, public safety, cost management as well as in the decision-making processes.
Project Management Fundamentals
The basics of project management ensure that the implementation of the projects is successful. The concepts are as discussed below (Clough et al., 75).
The engineering and construction projects are large and involve complex information, therefore are vital for timely delivery. The various organization strategies are as follows;
a) Contract Management
It is necessary that the managers define the roles of the project team staff involved in management and the project staff who manage the documents and contracts. This process helps establish the expectations and addresses the issue of authority concerning monitoring and reporting, payments, project modification as well as the financial audits.
b) Record Management
This procedure ensures that the distribution, storage as well as the retrieval of the electronic and hard copy records is safe. Besides, it involves the use of specific software to track the records.
c) Daily documentation
This entails the maintenance of diaries, daily reports and logs for reference after completion of tasks to mitigate damages. Moreover, through it, the management obtains answers on how the problems were dealt with while tracking the unusual daily occurrences.
d) Contract Procurement Planning
The managers have to ensure that the procurement procedures are consistent with the project plan by setting contract prices, creating a scope of work, standardizing procurement documents and adding completion dates to the contract.
e) Record Drawings
These are the formatted drawings reflecting all the alterations made to the initial drawings during the application process that the contractor presents on project completion. Also, it is a representation of the visual existing design and displays the deviations from the original plan.
Organizing documents enable one to categorize and give priority to the important tasks and when one has a proper record he can build a project schedule that provides a clear approach to planning, problem identification, cash flow forecasts and resource access evaluations (Clough et al., 76). The ideal scheduling methods are as follows
a) Critical Path Scheduling
It calculates the minimum project completion time and the commencement and completion dates of all tasks. It helps reduce timelines, manage resources and compare the actual plan with the factual one.
b) Gantt Charts
This is the simplest way of creating a construction schedule because it enables one to visualize the task timelines through the transformation of the task names, dates, durations and end dates in horizontal bar charts.
The conflicts are inevitable in any project hence obliges the manager to resolve the disputes to ensure there is an effective team to maximize productivity. The conflicts differ and they include lack of clarity, conflicting interests, poor communication and power struggles. The various resolution strategies are as discussed below.
It is very expensive and time-consuming conflict resolution method. The parties have a right to an attorney while the presentation of evidence and witness is crucial. The final decision of the arbitrator is binding.
A 3rd party person gets hired to solve the dispute between the two parties.
c) Mini Trial
It takes s place in an informal setting in the present of an attorney and the agreement is non-binding.
Understanding of the legal principles can help save time and money when the managers have to negotiate contracts, deal with legal requirements, licensing, and job safety and while purchasing insurance. There are several liabilities and economic risks that are not covered by the professional liabilities policies hence the managers should ensure that they acquire the appropriate coverage to avoid claims and liabilities( Gopi, 79).
After the commissioning of the project, the managers should create a process to monitor the task cost to identify the troubled spots.
A capital improvement plan helps identify the capital costs and equipment purchase and identifies the financing plan options. Moreover, the plan links a government entity, a strategic plan, and the annual budget. It includes a list of the projects or necessary equipment in order of preference, the financing plans, development schedules as well as the justification of the projects.
b) Project Accounting
The accounting department develops the project budget for the financial year, record and report expenditure, pays invoices as well as manages the cash flow. The project team reviews the invoices to ensure that the work has been properly completed while the accounting department ensures that the invoices are legally eligible and are consistent with the agreement.
A cost estimate is necessary while submitting a bid for a construction project because it helps establish a budget for the project. Moreover, the project manager should become familiar with the process to ensure that they understand the scope of work. The cost estimate process entails determining the unit prices, lump sum estimates, overhead costs, labor costs and the bidding procedures.
The Project Management Process
According to Hansen et al., the process of management is very complex and requires a set of skills concerning mediation, finance, business and law (17). First, the project owners share information to the contractors to solicit bids while putting into consideration the expected cost of implementing the projects following the estimates that the bidders provide. The bids are either public or closed depending on whether the project is public or private and once the owner receives all the bids for the projects they select the contractors using different methods, for example, the best value selection, the low bid selection, and the qualification based selection. After, the owners determines the contractor they want they then the two parties agree on the kind of payment contract to use for instance the cost plus free, lump sum, the unit price or the guaranteed maximum price(Uher et al ,80).
After acquiring the bid the first step involves project initiation and requires that one creates and establish a business model to evaluate whether the project is feasible by conducting various feasibility tests. If both parties agree to move forward a Project Initiation Document containing the business needs and the case is created (Chen, 147).
After the initiation process, the project manager develops a guideline for everyone. The manager at this point also creates a Project Management Plan which is a formal document with the necessary procedures for implementation and control. The PMP document contains the cost, scope as well as the schedule baselines( Uher et al., 53).The other necessary documents in this phase are as follows.
a) The scope statement and documentation.
This document contains a definition of the business needs, benefits, objectives, deliverables and the key procedures.
b) The Communication Plan
The plan is an outline of the communication goals, roles, tools, methods as well as the objectives. The communication provides a platform that accommodates individual communication differences to minimize the risks of conflict due to misunderstandings.
c) Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
This is a visual representation that categorizes the project scope into manageable units.
d) Risk Management Plan
This document assists the project managers in identifying the future risks regarding bad timelines, cost cuts and estimates, budget cuts, regulations change and the shortage of the resources.
This is basically the application phase and it starts after the first meeting. The manager starts to allocate the required resources, execute the development schedules, develop tracking systems, update the work schedules, upgrades the work plans and execute the tasks.
Performance and Monitoring
The Monitoring stage is consistent with the execution phase and involves measuring the project progress and performance to ascertain that the work items are in line with the Project management plan.
This is the last stage and is a representation of the completion of the project. The managers hold a meeting to identify the failures and evaluate the success of the project. The team also develops an outline of all the tasks that they did not implement and develops a final budget as well as create a report.
Changing Industry Trends
Uher et al., (56) stated that there are several factors that impact on the quality cost and time of project completion. They include technological innovation in design and materials that have resulted in the construction costs. Besides, labor productivity has been stagnant in large scale projects. With the increasing level of international competition owners find the modern firms binding for the large scale projects. Currently, the public is very vocal on the scrutiny of various project activities, which may result in the difficulties in developing new facilities as well as the additional expenses while implementing the projects.
Project management involves the planning, control and coordination of tasks during project implementation and comprises the fundamentals of scheduling, organization, legal issues, conflicts, finance, and budgeting. The process is lengthy and involves the acquisition of a contract, initiation, implementation, and evaluation. The project managers should be knowledgeable of the safety management and codes and compliance codes and include these codes in their plans. Besides, there are various changing trends in the engineering and construction industry that impact on project management.
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