First thing we need to do before we even start to think of any differences, is what “project management” actually means! It is “the management of change”! So now we know that, let’s have a look at something where we can make simple comparisons between construction project management and normal project managment: a new wing being built on an office block! The client’s office people have a “Normal” change management project and us lot, we’ve got a “Building” project.
The client’s people have to consider a few things, which, actually, isn’t something they usually do; their working lives are spent in Operational Management. These include things like how many new recruits do we need; how many people are we going to transfer from their existing locations; where are we going to place the teams; furniture we need; PC’s and phones we need; where we are going to put it all??? Those little jobby-wobbies get done, then they move in as soon as we get out of their way and hand over – well, the way it works out sometimes they move in before we do move out and then get in our way! Doesn’t sound very complicated to we construction professionals, does it? Whichever, all the clients people put their “normal” heads back on and move to their usual Operational Management roles.
Now what do we get up to before they have their office extension? We have to set up the site and ensure site safety. Before that though, we’ve used our project management tool for construction and come up with a Detailed Programme to completion for the project. This probably has about 12,000 Tasks on it! To do that we have had to consider procurement periods, labour resources then how many people can work on one place at one time. We get started on the job and move from our building project management role to our construction project management role on site. (That might be the other way around; depends on how each is labelled within your own organisation!) We have to ensure legal compliance in all respects, not least HS&E. We stick up the structure and make it weather-proof, then we build the internal walls, etc.; M&E, HVAC and Data, first, second and final fix; suspended ceilings; raised access floors; decorate; floor coverings; install furniture. Then we clear site, clear off and leave them to it! If we get dead lucky some of us might get invited back to their Opening Party!
So What We See Here is That There Are Two Major Differences Between Building Project Management & Normal Project Management….
- The first is that Building is far more complex than Normal.
- The second is that once “Normal” is out of the way, they revert to their usual daily operational routines.We, on the other hand, move on to our nest “Building” project.
- There is a third, more subtle, difference, too, and that comes down to the nature of the building game; “Complexity, Uniqueness and Uncertainty”! – we never do exactly the same thing twice!
That does have the advantage of meaning we tend not to get bored with our jobs!