I am civil engineer by profession and having experience of almost 32 years in the industry. Most of my experience is in Middle East with A class contractors and has completed prestigious projects i.e. Royal Palaces, Military Hospital, Five Star Hotels and High Rise Buildings.
In 2011 while working in Dubai, I met with the owner of oneDelhi based Real estate company and he convinced me that now it is the right time to move back to India and do something for the construction industry in Indiawith Middle East experience. Initially I was reluctant to start my new inning as civil engineer in India due to experience of my few colleagues who could not fit in the Indian culture of construction industry due to so many reasons. And the main reason what I understood that it is not construction practice in India but their family issues which were not supporting their decisions. They used to live in awell-protected and clean environment in Middle East but when they moved back to India, most of the friends settled their families in their native small cities where all the facilities are not available as in big cities. Burger culture is not everywhere here for the kids which is a favoritedestination for them in other countries.
Coming back to my topic that is “Best Construction Management Practices”. In my opinion the best practice followed by any leader is the one when he gets success in any assignment within allocated time frame and budget. I have come across with so many articles on this topic but cannot be applied all the practices as thumb rule for all.
Since I am civil engineer, let me elaborate on construction projects. As per my experience, the most important management from any good Project head is to take projects time line very seriously from the very first day of the project. People get relaxed during the early stage of the project and don’t bother about delays and cannot anticipate its impact during the final stage of project. No project gets delayed at the eleventh hour but we become so desperate to meet the deadline and thus resulting in taking unwanted decisions and sometimes even compromise on the quality of end product. Therefore, as a good construction manager, we should make sure that all the approvals of drawings, end users requirement, material approvals and its procurement are streamlined on time. Most important thing is the coordination of all the trades with each other before first fix that is the provisions for the all services in the concrete work. “It is often said that a wrong decision taken at the right time is better than a right decision taken at the wrong time.”
Over all role of any good manager is to keep his team motivated all the time to ensure the project is completed to a high quality on time. All the technical information should be shared from top to bottom even at junior most staff at site.
CURRENT PRACTICE FOLLOWED BY DEVELOPERS.
Before discussing any new practice in construction industry, I want to raise my concern about alarming trend of compromise on product quality. Due to overrun on budget, negative cash flow, high salaries, changes during construction phase, owners of the project have started looking for cheap options in finishing material, service equipment which end up with high maintenance cost in the long run. I have personally experienced this situation where we had to change material specifications at very advance stage of the project. That delays the project while selecting new material and its procurement due to changed specification which are usually not available at bulk with the vendors. I also want to draw attention that it is also very common practice among the developers to utilize fund from one project to start new projects. They buy new properties to increase its land bank which affect the progress on ongoing projects especially during finishing stage. It is a very wrong perception being circulated by developers to its customers that once the structure work is finished, project is near to its completion. Not many customers understand that after structure work, it takes almost one and half times of the same duration to complete finishing and other works if it moves as per project schedule. But usually it goes much beyond its original completion dates and that’s the reason we can see so many projects along any highway with complete structure but no block, finishes and façade work.
The other most common practice nowadays adopted by developers to award the contract on lump sum basis to safeguard against any cost escalation during the construction phase. They also put the clause that even if building material cost increases up to 10% during construction period, there will be no claim from the contractor side. In this situation to minimize losses, sometimes contractors also compromise on quality by using cheap formwork material, less experienced staffs and not following proper work sequence for the best result.
BEST CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Nowadays, so many new practices are being implemented to run project on time and within budget. In my opinion, best practice by any good manager is to monitor the project schedule at micro level. Use whatever new software, system, template but the best tool to track any projects is itsprogress monitoring at regular interval. Resolving the technical issues, as early as possible, is the best remedy. Sometimes, higher managements do not check project reports on regular basis and by the time, they wake up, dent has already been done.
Other important factor is to keep close track of the funds & cash flow. Maintaining better waste management is also key figure in project profitability. Usually, we don’t give too much importance to wastage, housekeeping and site safety which make big difference at the end of the project.
Maintaining risk register also plays a vital role in avoiding any loss in on going and upcoming projects. The risk assessment is an activity that has to be monitored in a regular basis without any excuse and that also need some financial allowance.
Availability of BIM (Building Information Modeling)software is technically most useful tool to coordinate and organize the project to avoid mistakes during construction phase. Fundamentally, the purpose of BIM is to ensure that appropriate information is created in a suitable format at the right time so that better decisions can be made throughout the design, construction and operation of built assets.
Though lot of things can be written on best practices but the most important among all is to keep good relationship and trust with your team who are the real executor of the project.