Cornerstone of Efficient Construction Mgmt: Indranil Basu-Colliers Intl India

--By Indranil Basu, Director, Project Management, South India at Colliers International.

A construction Project presents an ever-changing landscape, one which can present variable conditions, unpredictable scenarios and unanticipated / unaccounted volatilities.  Efficiency in construction management comes from the team’s ability to remain equipped with a well-defined strategy and a comprehensive plan that is reasonably insulated of such variations.

Let us go through some key aspects which are essential for efficient construction management.

Communication

Enforcing a proper, well-defined system of constant flow of information between all stakeholders of the Project is important. Success of a Project can be the result of establishing protocols for seamless communication right at the inception stage.

The responsibility of the Project Manager shall be to deploy dedicated engineers and implementing proper collaboration mechanisms and software. Effective communication increases collaboration among stakeholders, while reducing idle time, and minimising mis-communications and errors.

Planning

The mantra for Effective Project Management is “doing it right the first time”; having a comprehensive delivery strategy day one is crucial. 

A successful Project Manager must prepare clear-cut, implementable strategies to manage all stages of the Project, right from design management, through schedule & resource planning, and right till Closeout & Handing Over stage. A proper project-specific delivery strategymust leverageappropriate construction systems and technologies, and createproper WBS, as well as having detailed Quality and EHS plan based on Project expectations.

Tracking and Monitoring

While curating an effective Project Plan is the most important aspect, having a robust implementation strategy is complimentary to it. Few important areas of monitoring that brings an efficient approach are tabulated below:

1. Schedule & resource monitoring : A item-wise detailed schedule is the most important tool for the Construction Manager. A competent Construction Manager must have other forms of schedule, from what-if construction schedules, and right down toon-ground micro schedules, which in turn to be backed up with practical resource plans that aid tracking.Enforcing key performance criteria and recording productivity levels are important. Tracking shall also involve improving workflows to reduce idle time, managing floats in programme through review of construction sequence, and instigate a process of submission of Recovery Schedules from Contractors in case a Project schedule goes off-track.

2. Supply chain management and tracking :An efficient plan involves tracking Vendor material supply matters, which involves review of sourcing, lead times, etc.

3. Change Management :This remains an important task that must be mastered for efficient delivery.  Changes within the construction project are among the most common contributors of cost escalation and schedule delays. If changes occur, the construction manager must assess all contractual implications and promptly advise the Client of cost and time impacts to allow taking informed decision. 

4. Tracking of cost plan : Delivering the Project within the agreed cost plan is crucial for financial success of the Project. The Construction Manager must religiously track all cost variances, and regularly update Anticipated Cost Reports.

5. Risk Management : Having an advance understanding of risks is critical for efficient Construction Management. A successful Construction Manager maintains and updates a risk register, and draws up a root cause analyses and mitigation plan. Depending the nature and criticality of the array of risks, the same mobilises support from organisation hierarchy to mitigate such risks.

Digitisation in Construction sector

Advent of digital initiatives, including AI, has opened up avenues to enhance operational excellence in the construction management space.

Foremost among these is developing project-specific Building Information Modelling (BIM). The potential of BIM transcends beyond the most common expectation of conflict resolution, and improves efficiency through proper 3D visualisation that reduces downtime stemming from lack of understanding, mis-conceptions, etc. Apart from this, there is huge opportunity to add unending information layers that extracts the true value of the model, which might be related to linking the schedule to the model and / or linking the quantity / cost to the model.

There is a plethora of other digital initiatives that are steadily making inroads into construction sector; one such significant initiative is to bring efficiency through web-based tool for remote surveillance; this allows all stakeholders to review not only progress, but also allows project stakeholders to advise on aspects of quality, design, EHS, among others.

Overall, the Construction Management team must remain flexible and alert to face multiple challenges during the entire life cycle of the Project. Ultimately, success of a Project comes from an efficient approach of managing all these challenges and risks, and efficiency in turn can be defined in terms of schedule performance, and also delivering the Project in a cost-effective manner, while maintaining quality.

(With business operations in 68 nations, Colliers International is a real estate services and investment management organization. It was established 25 years ago and has about 15,000 employees. Its revenues were about USD 3.5 billion in 2019 with USD 33 billion of assets under management.)

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