KPMG’s 2015 Global Construction Project Owner’s Survey reflects the excellent progress made by owners in planning, risk management and execution in recent years. It also highlights a few areas where owners are still striving to improve. As they climb the project management maturity curve, both private and public organizations should consider the following issues:
An effective recruitment, development and retention strategy should encompass data analytics to predict future talent needs. And, by widening the net of potential candidates, organizations can attract candidates with new ways of thinking who can augment the existing pool of engineers. Beyond the broadening skills set, there is ultimately no substitute for experience, and owners must find ways to tap into the skill base of older or retiring employees.
The scale and complexity of many of today’s construction projects call for swift coordination and real-time reporting. A fully integrated PMIS can keep key stakeholders informed of schedule and cost status, and enable faster decision-making to keep projects on track.
Owners should demand practical targets from contractors based upon realistic expectations of what can go wrong. Scheduling needs to balance sufficient slack with targets that stretch – but don’t overwhelm. If necessary, owners may seek external scheduling expertise to ensure that they understand the workflow and the full financial impact of delays.
Contingencies should encourage prudent cost management and not be an excuse for overspending. The use of a management reserve acknowledges the potential for uncontrollable risks, while a draw-down approach enables project managers to react quickly and flexibly to situations, while keeping strong control over expenditures.
Project owners must invest in relationships with contractors to raise mutual trust and discuss problems or shortcomings. Rather than simply passing all or most of the risk to the contractor, it is preferable to create an integrated project team with common goals and rewards. Where contractors are felt to be lacking in certain skills, owners can discuss how to enhance the team with external expertise.