Although owners and contractors may have different perceptions on project management for construction, they have a common interest in creating an environment leading to successful projects in which performance quality, completion time and final costs are within prescribed limits and tolerances. It is interesting therefore to note the opinions of some leading contractors and owners who were interviewed.
From the responses of six contractors, the key factors cited for successful projects are:
- well defined scope
- extensive early planning
- good leadership, management and first line supervision
- positive client relationship with client involvement
- proper project team chemistry
- quick response to changes
- engineering managers concerned with the total project, not just the engineering elements.
Conversely, the key factors cited for unsuccessful projects are:
- ill-defined scope
- poor management
- poor planning
- breakdown in communication between engineering and construction
- unrealistic scope, schedules and budgets
- many changes at various stages of progress
- lack of good project control
The responses of eight owners indicated that they did not always understand the concerns of the contractors although they generally agreed with some of the key factors for successful and unsuccessful projects cited by the contractors. The significant findings of the interviews with owners are summarized as follows:
- All owners have the same perception of their own role, but they differ significantly in assuming that role in practice.
- The owners also differ dramatically in the amount of early planning and in providing information in bid packages.
- There is a trend toward breaking a project into several smaller projects as the projects become larger and more complex.
- Most owners recognize the importance of schedule, but they adopt different requirements in controlling the schedule.
- All agree that people are the key to project success.
From the results of these interviews, it is obvious that owners must be more aware and involved in the process in order to generate favorable conditions for successful projects. Design professionals and construction contractors must provide better communication with each other and with the owner in project implementation.
Chris Hendrickson is the Duquesne Light Company Professor of Engineering and Co-Director of the Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. His research, teaching and consulting are in the general area of engineering planning and management, including design for the environment, project management, transportation systems, finance and computer applications. Prof. Hendrickson is a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineering, an Emeritus Member of the Transportation Research Board and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Hendrickson is also the recipient of many professional awards.