Many global companies are trying to get a footprint in India. How can project management help here?
Our involvement in a project starts right from the search for space, with the leasing team, to the execution. We interact with the clients to understand their business requirements and nature of the business they plan to setup in India. Based on those parameters we carry technical due diligence of the properties, which includes efficiency check, structural review of the building and analysis of the equipment provided by the developers. This helps client in identifying the properties that suit their business needs. Post this, we advise clients with lease documentation, technical inputs, which includes conditions for carrying out fit-outs and conditions for the client operations.
How do projects management consultants align with a client’s business strategy?
Project management includes many tasks. It is much more than co-ordinating and overseeing the efforts of design and construction professionals, it also ensures that a space is built within established budgetary and schedule parameters. Those tasks are defined as construction management. Knight Frank’s view of project management is substantially greater, and includes the proactive management of the client, all vendors, contractors and suppliers, as well as architects, engineers and general contractors, with the ultimate goal of providing a fully functional space on day one. The involvement of the project management professionals provides our clients with a ‘best practices’ perspective that ensures uniformity and consistency in service delivery. through the utilisation of standardised processes, documentation, communication and methodology, each of which is customised to the individual goals and objectives of our clients.
Does project management help innovation cycles?
Project manager’s contribution in a project should not be limited to execution but also adding value to it, in terms of design inputs, which includes optimisation of the space. With rising real estate costs, work place strategy as a service is picking up very fast. Clients realise the benefits associated with global workplace trends and look to integrate the same for their businesses. Going by the adage necessity is the mother of invention, every project has its own challenges, demands and needs to be dealt in an entirely different manner. Lot of innovation is required to cater to growing client demands of optimising time, cost and space. Innovation is not always limited to products and their design, but also how processes get innovatively implemented for ease of project control and post occupation operational challenges.
What are the key trends and challenges we are seeing in the modern construction sector?
With the growing demand for more modern, efficient, pre-fabricated and modular construction, the construction technology has also metamorphosed in recent times. Being green has become a corporate commitment for most of the companies and this has urged the construction industry to be focused on eco friendly ways of manufacture and creating products as well. Pre-fabricated construction has replaced cast in-situ by virtue of being faster, cleaner and more effective. Modularity has always been preferred to create multi-utility spaces and is apt in the modern business scenario that adapts to change. It has become imperative for the service industry to be aware of the trends and techniques to be able to offer a wholesome solution to its clients.
The industry is becoming more collaborative and transparent. How has the this affected project efficiency?
Awareness and competitiveness amongst the customers has pushed the industry towards becoming more transparent and collaborative. Innovation in both product efficiency and being cost effective has resulted in the companies becoming collaborative. In addition, an increasing demand for a one-stop shop in the construction industry has lead to a step in this direction.
So how are things changing for project managers coming into the modern construction industry?
Project managers, in these changing times, have to be technically aware of the advances and available options in the industry to be able to give their clients effective solutions. Basic infrastructure upgradation to meet the technical demands of construction today is also one of the most important needs in the changing times. They have to be more dynamic, adaptive and overall be aware of the current trends.
Have you seen any changes in the project management segment in the last five years?
In last five years, the outlook towards project management has changed a lot. Previously, only multinational clients would engage professional project managers to ensure that projects are managed with adherence to EHS, quality, timelines and controlled budgets. Now, not only Indian corporates but also developers have realised the importance of engaging professional PMCs. Even the funding partners in any joint development insist on having an external PMC to report on adherence to various parameters.
Around 50 to 70% of any project cost relates to procurement. What are the various challenges and how can these be eliminated?
Procurement plays an important role in the entire project. Usually, there should be a project procurement strategy that should be specific to a particular project. No two strategies are similar and have to be tailor made. While strategising the project manager should take extreme care with respect to design, timelines, budget, quality and prevalent taxation structure. While a cost-effective procurement would mean reaching out to the manufacturer for supply and installation sourced locally, a turnkey option always serves to overcome the issues of coordination and delivery.
Having said that, estimation of items, quantities based on a particular design and sourcing them right at the beginning of the project is also an important part of procurement. Implications of improper procurement would lead to project complications and a delayed delivery as well. For instance, the long lead items and those which are made off-site would need to be sourced with enough details in place and with required time at hand for delivery, since there is hardly any control thereafter to make changes to the product or expedite the delivery. In addition, material study, which includes availability, constructability and maintainability, has to be carried out before formalisation of the specifications followed by stringent vendor prequalification process. Once the procurement is completed, tracking becomes very important to ensure that deliveries are made at the right time.
Many projects face delays and cost escalations during execution. Can this be attributed to incorrect planning?
If you don’t plan for the project, you are planning for failure. It is very important to provide complete details in the tender document, which includes detailed designs closest to good-for-construction drawings along with the detailed specifications. To achieve this, justified timelines have to be provided to the consultants and need to be managed with proper scheduling. During the construction phase, any changes in design or specifications have to be recorded with thorough change management process. The change management ensures that the client is aware of impact on cost and timelines before approving.
How closely is project risk linked to financial closure of a project?
Project manager approaches each project with success in mind. One of the biggest risks in a project is the financial closure. It’s very important to track, report and record any change during pre-construction and construction with change management process. This would eliminate any risk of unjustified claims, which may lead to arbitration or legal actions.
How should unseen risks like variation in regulatory policies be managed?
To ensure success, it is crucial to be aware of the risks from the outset that undermine the aim for success. A project manager should undertake a risk analysis for the project to identify the likely problems and challenges; to allow a strategy to be put in place to anticipate and compensate accordingly and ensure successful completion.
What in your opinion is the future of tools such as Building Information Management system?
Most architectural firms still operate with the same flawed system of generating construction drawings, as do the construction teams erecting a building. Today, technologies have advanced to help increase productivity in construction, reduce requests for information, eliminate coordination problems, decrease construction time, and increase quality. The BIM software is the gateway to solving these issues. With dynamically linked demand modelling, designers in remote locations can also make changes and update digital construction drawings at the jobsite. Project managers on site can propose changes to the design team with no delay time. It also enables the contractor on site to display means of construction in 4-Dimensions for an increased understanding of construction sequencing. Every question pertaining to the project can be answered immediately and virtually from any location.
We are currently working on increasing awareness amongst designers and client on advantages of BIM and pay back on investments. This software would revolutionise the construction industry in a big way and avoid conflicts between architects and project managers.
What is the future strategy of Knight Frank India in project management consultancy?
Knight Frank has always been advocating following the best construction practices in the industry. The core value has always been to provide quality advice to its clients and to be able to do so it has been an endeavour to adapt the most modern techniques in the industry. The future strategy would be to acquire, train and prepare its managers in the best available technology so that they are able to provide qualitative advice to clients and manage projects in an efficient manner. The strategy would also aim at attracting the best talent in the industry – proficient in modern methodology of project execution practices.