Introduction - MGT8073 Project Processes & Systems
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In the first part of the report, a brief description of the Keller group will be given along with a brief introduction to one of their construction projects which is “The First Street Tunnel”. A brief description will be given about the role of PMO (Project Management Office) and their importance in any project will be discussed. Other than that, a brief overview will be given on the construction industry of the UK to understand different sectors in this industry. The evaluation of the budget and other necessary resources will be done to determine which costs are involved in the construction project. After that, risks associated with tunnel project construction will be mentioned. A comparative study will be done between two construction projects to get knowledge regarding the adverse effects of construction projects. Based on the evaluation, some recommendations will be given in the end.
Keller group is one of the popular and leading construction companies in the UK. Reports suggest it is holding the second rank by turnover and in 2020; their turnover was approximately £4,479.4m. One of their projects is “The First Street Tunnel” Project which they built in the USA, Washington (Keller.com, 2022). A PMO or Project Management Office is built in any company to maintain the health and safety of the employees. It is specifically important for construction companies to centrally monitor all the projects and at the same time control the pace of these projects.
This report will be based on the construction of a tunnel which is the "First Tunnel Project" and the plan is to understand its procurement process. The role of the PMO in this context is to plan the project, schedule it, analyse the risks and track the whole project. As a part of PMO, an evaluation will be done on the requirements of this project, the challenges faced, and the solutions they found for each of the challenges. For constructing a 2,700-ft long tunnel, four large shafts were sunk, followed by the construction of three audits (Keller.com, 2022). In addition, four diversion chambers were prepared along with other structures. The main challenge faced was a noise as it was made in a residential area. This report will be highlighting the measures they took and the solutions that are applicable to all the tunnel construction projects
Importance of project management and project management office
Sponsoring group or programming board, the project manager as well as business change manager collaboratively work to provide support to any project. The role of the project support team of PMO is to act as a hub for information that adds value, provide knowledge to projects, detect risks, and solve any issue by using the knowledge and expertise. Waterfall project management is a type of management that provides a framework of activities in sequential order. The team has to complete each task before proceeding to further steps. A specific goal is set by PMO, and the team members along with managers work together in the completion of the goals. It is one of the traditional approaches that consist of project requirements, system design, project implementation, testing, and ultimately maintenance (Ichsan and Hamsal, p. 50). However, in agile project management, continuous changes are done at the development phase and there is no fixed rule of approaching a project. In construction projects, this waterfall project management is followed because it involves a specific budget, duration, and resources. Therefore, if any project fails to meet the deadline it directly increases the overall budget for that project and this cause’s huge loss of the construction companies.
UK’s Construction sector
UK's construction and infrastructure industry are divided into different sectors, which include Public housing, industrial, private commercial, other infrastructure and private housing.
Figure 1: Construction statistics in UK (2010-2020)
(Source: Ons.gov, 2021)
However, in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant fall seen in the overall value of the construction projects. It is estimated that a 186.3% fall was witnessed in the construction industry which is around £99,651 million. The number of new orders fell by 11.9% as well and it was recorded to be highest until now (Ons.gov, 2021). An annual reduction of 16 in total new work in private construction companies and a 17.2% reduction in public construction companies were witnessed.
Considering the recent event in UK regarding Covid-19, it can be said that this industry had suffered from lockdown, which ultimately delayed several construction projects. This aspect is important to consider in project management as it negatively affects project management. Thus, considering this factor in project planning is essential. Furthermore, it can be said that creating a contingency plan for them helps to improve on these issues. However, it can be seen that the UK has different construction projects that are on a big level and need effective discipline in project management practice (Biswas et al. 2021, p. 012054). Moreover, this data shows that construction projects will grow in the future due to the increase of technology and the project management process will be far more efficient.
Evaluation of Different Factors
Budget and other necessary resources
The budget for a construction project is decided based on the equipment, materials, human resource and associated facilities for the workers. Some heavy equipment like excavators, cranes, bulldozers, as well as trenches, involves a significant cost of the projects. Materials include cement, bricks, rods, sand, and other raw materials which are used to make the actual construction; for example bridge, tunnel, building, etc. Human resource is the most crucial element that involves a significant cost as well. The estimator decides the cost for the material and other equipment as well as labour cost; the architect prepares the actual design based on the client's demands (Morera et al. 2020, p. 615). On the other hand, the role of the engineer is to supervise the project, using software to make plans, monitor power requirements and forecast the risks. The construction workers execute the actual project according to the instructions given and a budget is also allocated to satisfy their physiological and safety needs. All these are planned for a specific duration and if the deadline is not met it directly enhances the cost of the budget.
Figure 2: Budget
Construction of tunnel projects is itself a risky job if not proper research has been done on the underground condition. In this regard, a geothermal investigation is performed to predict the underground characteristics and avoid any major accidents. This geotechnical investigation helps to decide the excavation technique and also helps to understand the seismic activities of that area. The construction of tunnels has a lot of negative impacts on the environment such as disruption of natural habitat, contamination of groundwater. In the tunnel project of the Karst area, all these factors were taken into consideration (Lv et al. 2020, p. 124891). The distribution pattern of the water resources, the flow of groundwater to the field, and even it initiates geological disasters like collapses. It leads to soil erosion, changes in microorganism activities of soil, and also changes the physical as well as chemical characteristics of soil and all of these risks were detected during the tunnel making.
The "First Street Tunnel" was built to mitigate the issues regarding storm water that used to create floods in the Washington area. Flooding used to severely impact the neighbourhood by damaging the homes, environment as well as public property. However, there was no major risk or accident that happened during this tunnel construction (Keller.com, 2022). This was because the proper risk assessment and identification were done before starting the project. A ground freezing technique was selected for giving short-term support during excavation and to ensure minimum disturbances above the surface area. In addition, this ground freezing technique has various advantages including minimum noise, dust as well as vibration during the excavation of tunnels and shafts. It was helpful in the vulnerable groundwater condition. However, they did not consider the long-term effect on the soil composition that can lead to soil erosion and change in physical and chemical characteristics of the soil.
In any construction project, some of the important factors are taken into consideration to ensure success. Usually, construction projects involve a lot of costs and if strategic planning is not done it can lead to project failure. Based on the review of literature some recommendations are given in this section. In construction projects, SMART goals are very necessary to ensure the achievement of project goals (Ogbeiwi, 2017, p. 325).
The project goal must be very specific so that it does not create any confusion among team members. The construction workers must be aware of the objectives that they need to achieve. A detailed description of what to achieve, when to achieve, why to achieve, etc. help to address specific goals in construction projects.
Continuous monitoring helps to track the project and it can be measured by looking at how much goal has been achieved till now and how much is to be achieved. In construction projects, workers can be given specific training to develop necessary skills that can help to achieve the objectives of the project easily.
It ensures realistic goals that can be easily achieved by workers. Here, the skills of the worker and their ability to complete a project are considered before deciding the goals.
This ensures the alignment of larger goals into smaller goals which are necessary for construction projects. In construction, new must be aligned with previous goals for better understanding.
Time is the most crucial factor because it directly involves costs. If the project goals are not accomplished on time it leads to an increase in the budget. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid setting unrealistic times for goal achievements.
Figure 1: SMART Goals
- Other than the SMART goals, it is necessary to break down a complete task into smaller sub-tasks so that each of the tasks is properly understood by the team associated with the project. Therefore, it is recommended for any construction project to break down tasks to make them more manageable and attainable at the same time.
- Risk analysis is another important element for any project management. Risk analysis helps to identify those factors that could negatively impact the project operations. In addition, it helps to stay well-aware of the upcoming situations and prevents them from turning into more dangerous situations (Demirkesen and Ozorhon, 2017, p. 1640). Therefore, it is recommended to measure the probable risks and in construction, it is the role of engineers to analyse the situation and forecast possible risks. Following identification of potential consequences of risks, it is recommended to take managing strategies to avoid catastrophic failure.
- Strategic planning is necessary to avoid budget issues in construction companies. A proper report must be maintained to include material costs, equipment costs, wages and other variable costs involved in construction projects (Pal et al. 2017, p. 1225). In addition, a proper finance book must be maintained that highlights cash outflow along with the cash inflow to have a clear idea regarding total cost involvement.
- It is recommended to maintain effective communication throughout the project. The creation of an uninterrupted flow of communication makes the complete process transparent and smoother for both the workers as well as for project managers. Moreover, it significantly reduces the chances of project failure (Boujaoudeh Khoury, 2019, p.112). Therefore, it is necessary to ensure a continuous flow of messages and make the construction workers aware of the specific goals so that unnecessary wastage can be avoided easily.
- Project managers must be well prepared for unpredicted circumstances like pandemics and a consecutive plan must always be ready to deal with such situations.
The primary focus of this report was to understand the role of PMOs in construction projects. In this regard, the first street tunnel project was considered to understand the role of PMO in project management. After that, the UK construction industry was considered to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the construction industry. Budget and other necessary resources were considered along with risk analysis and identification. In the end, some recommendations were given to overcome budget-related issues and other issues.
Biswas, A., Ghosh, A., Kar, A., Mondal, T., Ghosh, B. and Bardhan, P.K., 2021, February. The impact of COVID-19 in the construction sector and its remedial measures. In Journal of Physics: Conference Series (Vol. 1797, No. 1, p. 012054). IOP Publishing. Available at: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/1797/1/012054/pdf [Accessed on 8 March 2022]
Boujaoudeh Khoury, K., 2019. Effective communication processes for building design, construction, and management. Buildings, 9(5), p.112. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/2075-5309/9/5/112/pdf
Demirkesen, S. and Ozorhon, B., 2017. Impact of integration management on construction project management performance. International Journal of Project Management, 35(8), pp.1639-1654. Available at: https://edisciplinas.usp.br/pluginfile.php/4969425/mod_resource/content/1/ART_10_Workshop_1_Project_management_1-s2.0-S0263786317300029-main.pdf [Accessed on 8 March 2022]
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