Sunday, 1 May 2016

Selecting finishes for a railway station

A question looked like a puzzle when it was asked to a group of (Interior Design Experts) of #QRail "How to select the right materials for the interior finishes of the Doha Metro Project?".
The team and their teams; all together not less than 250 experts working for leading companies in the field couldn't give one clear answer.
A series of endless workshops lasted for a couple of two years and still running did not produce answers, only new questions.

One quick look at #Ramsis Railway Station on any building that has the logo of the Egyptian Railway Company would give the short sharp answer.

The materials chosen for finishes are simply metals and natural stone which share the following essntials in common, all are:
1- Non-combustible.
2- Long living.
3-Easy to maintain.
This doesn't only define a criterea for selecting materials, but also defines the pool to pick from.
Anyway, I still agree that one or more of the #QRail (Interior Design Experts) may still prioritize the aesthetics in a railway station and say the he doesn't like the Look And Feel of the station. Although that this would sound neive to the majority of the field professionals, but simply sir a beautiful design  shapes the right materials into a beautiful architecural space. If you think you can disagree with this primitive rule, Apple for an architectural school then.
For the amazing geometry with the right materials, see the Google images of Sweden Metro stations as an example.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Material Approval Process

Although Materials acceptance is one of the most critical issues of Construction Management, many of the professionals in field show lack of capability of designing Material Approval Process for their projects.

Below the example of D&B contract Material Approval Process for enhancing those skills.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Privacy of Construction Project Management in Qatar 01/08

Got too many subcontractors to handle?

According to project management experts, you can spot major trouble on the horizon if you keep your eyes peeled for any of [the] poor project planning symptoms’ (Taylor, 2008[i])

Working in the business of construction in Qatar for the last eight years, I noticed what can be called repetitive management mistakes in the various projects and titles I have been at.
The Qatari business market succeeded to attract a numerous investors, contractors and PM firms while the management culture is not adult enough to absorb the sudden changes.
In this article I am trying to simply and share the critical typical challenges a project may confront due to lack of the poor design of an Organisation Chart.
This can easily be seen in the numerous stakeholders involved in a construction project her in Qatar.

Subcontracting strategy is adopted by most if not all of construction stakeholder working currently in Qatar due to the attractive fast growing construction business in Qatar.
Adopting subcontracting strategy can lead to serious troubles in project management if not well controlled.

Below is real life case study of one of the under construction large scales projects in Qatar. The project which was 2.3 Billion $ suffered obviously from a blind communication spot at the bottom of its organisation chart OC and lack of control by the main contractor over the subcontractors.
A glance on the OC would make one feel really comfortable to describe it as an over loaded organisation chart

An example of this is the Main Contractors Technical department OC as a random segment for analysis. The OC was built to have a technical manager at the top followed by the seven sub section managers (Architectural Manager, Structural Manager and etc.) those are followed by a line of senior staff who are followed by the engineers and architects who supervise the subcontractor technical offices where the real technical runs shifting all the mess deeper in the OC.

A normal daily communication process had to start from the subcontractor all the way up to the main contractors’ technical manager to decide what to do with it.
A request for information could take easily three weeks between it approaches from the sub-contractor engineer till it reaches the consultant for an answer.
The corrective actions suggested for this was to take line of the heads of sections out of OC for a shorter OC. Just write it off to allow efficient communication and to arrange a series of daily workshops among the Cub-contractors, the consultant and the main contractor for mitigating the previous time creep.
The lesson could be learnt for a PM considers moving to Qatar is to think twice before hiring sub-contractors some in-house working may be more feasible for the project and the organisation trying to design a slimmer Organisation Charts. Simply follow the rules, Develop the project Work Breakdown Structure into an OC not the other way around.

[i] Joe Taylor Jr. (2008) ‘Five Signs Your Team Suffers From Poor Project Planning ’.Bright up!. [Accessed 18 March 2009]

Sunday, 18 March 2012

‘ Million Oops, A case study on modern project planning and control’. April 2009, RKC Collage and the University of Wales.UK

Project Planning and Control

05 April 2009

Question 01:
On 1st of July 1997 the construction of the Entertainment and Sports Arena started on time in N.C with an estimated finish date of 1st of Sept 1999 which crept later to March 2000, and with a planned budget of $120 million which was later moved up to $158 million.
Along its duration this project suffered cost overrun, schedule overrun, low efficiency of performance and other obstacles. Looking for the reasons under the light of project management we saw obvious shortages at almost the all project management tools such as; leadership, project planning, project control, cost control, risk management, internal and external communication, stakeholder management.
The thesis is going to name those zones where defects were detected as red zones and will stand for their analysis one by one; where and how they were indicated as the thesis is going to prioritise them through arranging them from the highest to the lowest priority.
On the other hand the other hand the positively actions will be highlighted and grouped in a green zone.
Question 02:
The Empire Plastics Northern (EPN) hired two management subcontractors to help achieving its project to increase the production rate of oleic acid. Each of those subcontractors showed different level of performance due to their different management approaches.
Western Construction managed their scope with an eye opened on Team work and communication which helped it to properly achieve.
Teknibuild managed their scope with an eye opened on Man hour this was the main reason beyond their poor performance.
This thesis is trying to address the analysis of each company’s approach.

Answer of Question 01:

Screening of the $26 million oops case study reflected poverty at each of the first four of Mochall’s top five project management major mistakes
1. ‘Inadequate project definition and planning
2. Weak scope change management
3. Not managing the work plan
4. Poor project communication
5. Lack of quality management ‘(Mochal, 2003:1)
Poor project planning, poor change management, poor project control, poor communication besides extra defects in the areas of Leadership, Stockholding management, cost control and Time management. This thesis is going to code those zones as red zones referring to the worst approaches impacted the project they will be prioritised by arranging them accordingly as per their impact on the project success.
On the other hand some good approaches were reached along the project duration, even they were not so efficient they will be analyzed and coded as green zones which will cover the alarms raised on time by some stakeholders and the high quality concrete cat in site.

(1-A) Red Zone Analysis:

1-A-1 Poor Leadership:

In fact it was not easy to determine neither a team work nor a single leader with executive authority at the side of the committee, amongst thirteen members many felt free to make decisions and speak for the committee either to the partners or to media it is here to say that ‘... poor leadership may serve to isolate individuals and deny access to social support and there by exacerbate the negative effects of workplace stressors.’ (Kelloway, et al., 2004:91)
The impact of individuals’ isolation was clearest when lawyer Reef Ivey suggested unstudied project modification from a basket ball arena to a hockey arena. This suggestion transformed the project to a real nightmare. Besides the mistake of odd-made decision he had the default of making a vital decision without visiting an expert.
Another clear impact of the absence of good leadership is the mess the project planning and control as it will be detailed later in this thesis because ‘A good leader creates the agenda. He or she does not let things stagnate ... The leader is proactive and not reactive.’(Leadership-basics, 2009:1)
As seen all the corrective action taken by management were only immediate reactions to the disasters like none of risks were estimated while planning this project.

1-A-2 Poor project planning:

‘According to project management experts, you can spot major trouble on the horizon if you keep your eyes peeled for any of [the] poor project planning symptoms’ (Taylor, 2008)
Starting from the project chart which experienced poverty since the project started; on its top a committee of 13 members none of them has an executive authority to manage the project the committee represented the client and directly managed the job which was being performed by a main contractor the irony was that none of the committee members were specialized in construction projects and they did not even hire an expert at the first 8 working months.
Other poor planning indicator is ignoring rainy winter in North Carolina which repeats once yearly and allowing it to reduce the production average twice. It should be included in the project plan when studying tasks duration against production average winter time tasks could have calculated slotted duration with controlled creep allowance which should not effect the total duration of the project. If considered in a contingency plan, its impact would be controllable.

1-A-3 Poor project control:

The quality of project control heavily depends on the accuracy and completeness of the information given by the control system. (Paliktzoglou, 2009:75) our case study is a clear example of control system absence and how it impacts progress.

1-A-4 Poor change management:

Change management is the process during which the changes of a system are implemented in a controlled manner by following a pre-defined framework/model with, to some extent, reasonable modifications’ (SearchCIO-Midmarket, 2009:1)
Although many marks of management illness can be configured during the project for me the most clear example was when the project transformed to a hockey arena at this point serious and immediate actions should be done ‘every change request should be impacted on the project by determining its effect on the schedule, budget and deliverables’. (Paliktzoglou, 2009:83)
I would use one of my work experience reactions in such a situation when a project is exposed to major change splitting the project into two phases (project phase 01) should include the already performed work as per the old project description and as a closed project and (project phase 02) for the new modification this was a missed opportunity for putting the project back on the track.

1-A-5 Poor cost control:

Good control starts by good planning which must be preceded by good estimation which was totally absent in this project but knowing that contractors and its consultants vastly miscalculated the impact the design changes helps to imagine the project missed cost estimation.
Although setting up a budget checking system is a must for such a changing project ‘Check and recheck budgets. Are you where you should be or are costs running over? Is there a way to reallocate the mix of resources to bring costs back in line?’(Walker, 2004:01) the committee did not consider revision the miscalculated budget change before considering it.
Uncertainty of financial resource which may cover the change as the authority hoped to get the remainder of the money it needs to cover its cost overruns from Raleigh and Wake County this uncertainty reflects the poor cost control once more.

1-A-6 Poor communication:

‘A wolf eats only a stray sheep’ Arabic Proverb ‘Any weakness or problem in any one of three areas - personal, non-personal and organizational communication - can generate a multitude of problems …’ (Williams, 2008:01) this project experienced many organisational communication problems which generated the disability of elaborating the conflict between the contractors and architects in the meeting held in mid January. Instead of trying to work it out the problem was ignored in spite of the committee full awareness of it as chairman Perry Safran said. ‘Communication was a problem.
One more indicator of poor communication when Jordan the team president commented on the probability of the project delay ‘We haven't been told otherwise by anyone’ after Hensel Phelps had said the arena might not be finished until March 2000.

1-A-7 Poor stakeholder management:

‘An up-front analysis of who the stakeholders are and how and when to involve them in the project can prevent potential problems’ (Buthmann, 2008)

Figure 01: Communication Timing Matrix (Buthmann, 2008)
The Hurricanes joined the project as a major partner paying $20 million against their requirements. In principle every thing would be fine with this step if timing and planning were developed to meet the new stage requirements high level of stokehold management was highly recommended yet it was never applied. ‘... for each stakeholder, consider why and what to communicate...Next, develop a communication strategy that focuses on how to directly or indirectly influence and engage the stakeholders...Finally, determine the best time to communicate with the stakeholders and an appropriate spokesperson.’ (Buthmann, 2008) but a clear scope of responsibilities, authorities, and communication amongst stakeholders was never set.

1-A-8 Poor time management:

The lack of time management here is that even good corrective actions were taken late take for example the late hiring of a full time project manager by the committee which took place eight months after starting the construction and the design change negotiations which started t along with the construction process on 1st of July 1997 while a request of the final official list of improvement was raised on Sept. 26, 1997.

(1-B) Green Zone Analysis:

Despite of some alarms were hit on time like that one by Perry Safran ‘Communication was a problem’ and the complain letter sent early on 26 September 1997 by Rouse to Hurricanes financial consultant asking for final official changes besides some positive criticism was performed like when Mayor Tom Fetzer commented on taking a project of this size and scope and putting it in the hands of a bunch of part-time political appointees as it was a disaster which reflected individual standard of professionalism in some areas, no serious response to those alarms were shown.
Another green zone is to be highlighted regarding the quality of work as Williams witnessed that there have been no faulty beams or columns cast in site

Answer of Question 02:

(2-A) Western Construction (managing a Team work)

‘Teaming necessary to accomplish objectives’ (F.Galioto, 2006:05) it is proved that the smoothest the communication flow amongst team members, the closet to their goal they reach. Nowadays as the modern work environment where communication plays a vital role in projects success, thus effective team work management had became a must.
This is what Western construction management attitude confirmed as it had been said by John ‘… communication was just across the corridor…’
Yet the stable information flow is not the only benefit of team work, there is also the individuals sense of responsibility as (Cinda 2007) suggests’ A well-functioning team that exhibits “good teamwork” is made up of individuals each taking personal responsibility for having an impact on the project’ when each of the team players gets truly involved in the game he will be motivated by enthusiasm to win which can simply be interpreted in to project management terms as to accomplish the job perfectly and on time. The moral here that good team managing can serve as a motivator.
Once examining communication, sense of responsibility and motivation together in a team, get ready to trigger success.

(2-B) Teknibuild (managing a Time sheet)

On the other hand John had Teknibuild's site men who had had suffered lack of communication with their head office, further to their site partners. ‘When partnership is the key issue, influencing others by being a good team player is an important strategy for getting work accomplished.’(Subhashini 2009) Unfortunately, Teknibuild did show team work spirit neither externally nor internally
It seemed like their management only cared about man-hours not about accomplishing the job as Holdsworth agreed.
Work environment with lack of team spirit or stable communication is full of frustrated non-motivated resources that their only concern is about fulfilling their timesheets, once they sign attendance sheet they feel they have done their part of the job. References:
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