2. Organizing for Project Management
The management of construction projects requires knowledge of modern management as well as an understanding of the design and construction process. Construction projects have a specific set of objectives and constraints such as a required time frame for completion. While the relevant technology, institutional arrangements or processes will differ, the management of such projects has much in common with the management of similar types of projects in other specialty or technology domains such as aerospace, pharmaceutical and energy developments.
Generally, project management is distinguished from the general management of corporations by the mission-oriented nature of a project. A project organization will generally be terminated when the mission is accomplished. According to the Project Management Institute, the discipline of project management can be defined as follows: 
By contrast, the general management of business and industrial corporations assumes a broader outlook with greater continuity of operations. Nevertheless, there are sufficient similarities as well as differences between the two so that modern management techniques developed for general management may be adapted for project management.
The basic ingredients for a project management framework  may be represented schematically in Figure 2-1. A working knowledge of general management and familiarity with the special knowledge domain related to the project are indispensable. Supporting disciplines such as computer science and decision science may also play an important role. In fact, modern management practices and various special knowledge domains have absorbed various techniques or tools which were once identified only with the supporting disciplines. For example, computer-based information systems and decision support systems are now common-place tools for general management. Similarly, many operations research techniques such as linear programming and network analysis are now widely used in many knowledge or application domains. Hence, the representation in Figure 2-1 reflects only the sources from which the project management framework evolves.
Figure 2-1: Basic Ingredients in Project Management
Specifically, project management in construction encompasses a set of objectives which may be accomplished by implementing a series of operations subject to resource constraints. There are potential conflicts between the stated objectives with regard to scope, cost, time and quality, and the constraints imposed on human material and financial resources. These conflicts should be resolved at the onset of a project by making the necessary tradeoffs or creating new alternatives. Subsequently, the functions of project management for construction generally include the following:
2.2 Trends in Modern Management
In recent years, major developments in management reflect the acceptance to various degrees of the following elements: (1) the management process approach, (2) the management science and decision support approach, and (3) the behavioral science approach for human resource development. These three approaches complement each other in current practice, and provide a useful groundwork for project management.
The management process approach emphasizes the systematic study of management by identifying management functions in an organization and then examining each in detail. There is general agreement regarding the functions of planning, organizing and controlling. A major tenet is that by analyzing management along functional lines, a framework can be constructed into which all new management activities can be placed. Thus, the manager's job is regarded as coordinating a process of interrelated functions, which are neither totally random nor rigidly predetermined, but are dynamic as the process evolves. Another tenet is that management principles can be derived from an intellectual analysis of management functions. By dividing the manager's job into functional components, principles based upon each function can be extracted. Hence, management functions can be organized into a hierarchical structure designed to improve operational efficiency, such as the example of the organization for a manufacturing company shown in Figure 2-2. The basic management functions are performed by all managers, regardless of enterprise, activity or hierarchical levels. Finally, the development of a management philosophy results in helping the manager to establish relationships between human and material resources. The outcome of following an established philosophy of operation helps the manager win the support of the subordinates in achieving organizational objectives.
Figure 2-2: Illustrative Hierarchical Structure of Management Functions
The management science and decision support approach contributes to the development of a body of quantitative methods designed to aid managers in making complex decisions related to operations and production. In decision support systems, emphasis is placed on providing managers with relevant information. In management science, a great deal of attention is given to defining objectives and constraints, and to constructing mathematical analysis models in solving complex problems of inventory, materials and production control, among others. A topic of major interest in management science is the maximization of profit, or in the absence of a workable model for the operation of the entire system, the suboptimization of the operations of its components. The optimization or suboptimization is often achieved by the use of operations research techniques, such as linear programming, quadratic programming, graph theory, queuing theory and Monte Carlo simulation. In addition to the increasing use of computers accompanied by the development of sophisticated mathematical models and information systems, management science and decision support systems have played an important role by looking more carefully at problem inputs and relationships and by promoting goal formulation and measurement of performance. Artificial intelligence has also begun to be applied to provide decision support systems for solving ill-structured problems in management.
The behavioral science approach for human resource development is important because management entails getting things done through the actions of people. An effective manager must understand the importance of human factors such as needs, drives, motivation, leadership, personality, behavior, and work groups. Within this context, some place more emphasis on interpersonal behavior which focuses on the individual and his/her motivations as a socio-psychological being; others emphasize more group behavior in recognition of the organized enterprise as a social organism, subject to all the attitudes, habits, pressures and conflicts of the cultural environment of people. The major contributions made by the behavioral scientists to the field of management include: (1) the formulation of concepts and explanations about individual and group behavior in the organization, (2) the empirical testing of these concepts methodically in many different experimental and field settings, and (3) the establishment of actual managerial policies and decisions for operation based on the conceptual and methodical frameworks.Back to top
2.3 Strategic Planning and Project Programming
The programming of capital projects is shaped by the strategic plan of an organization, which is influenced by market demands and resources constraints. The programming process associated with planning and feasibility studies sets the priorities and timing for initiating various projects to meet the overall objectives of the organizations. However, once this decision is made to initiate a project, market pressure may dictate early and timely completion of the facility.
Among various types of construction, the influence of market pressure on the timing of initiating a facility is most obvious in industrial construction.  Demand for an industrial product may be short-lived, and if a company does not hit the market first, there may not be demand for its product later. With intensive competition for national and international markets, the trend of industrial construction moves toward shorter project life cycles, particularly in technology intensive industries.
In order to gain time, some owners are willing to forego thorough planning and feasibility study so as to proceed on a project with inadequate definition of the project scope. Invariably, subsequent changes in project scope will increase construction costs; however, profits derived from earlier facility operation often justify the increase in construction costs. Generally, if the owner can derive reasonable profits from the operation of a completed facility, the project is considered a success even if construction costs far exceed the estimate based on an inadequate scope definition. This attitude may be attributed in large part to the uncertainties inherent in construction projects. It is difficult to argue that profits might be even higher if construction costs could be reduced without increasing the project duration. However, some projects, notably some nuclear power plants, are clearly unsuccessful and abandoned before completion, and their demise must be attributed at least in part to inadequate planning and poor feasibility studies.
The owner or facility sponsor holds the key to influence the construction costs of a project because any decision made at the beginning stage of a project life cycle has far greater influence than those made at later stages, as shown schematically in Figure 2-3. Therefore, an owner should obtain the expertise of professionals to provide adequate planning and feasibility studies. Many owners do not maintain an in-house engineering and construction management capability, and they should consider the establishment of an ongoing relationship with outside consultants in order to respond quickly to requests. Even among those owners who maintain engineering and construction divisions, many treat these divisions as reimbursable, independent organizations. Such an arrangement should not discourage their legitimate use as false economies in reimbursable costs from such divisions can indeed be very costly to the overall organization.
Figure 2-3: Ability to Influence Construction Cost Over Time
Finally, the initiation and execution of capital projects places demands on the resources of the owner and the professionals and contractors to be engaged by the owner. For very large projects, it may bid up the price of engineering services as well as the costs of materials and equipment and the contract prices of all types. Consequently, such factors should be taken into consideration in determining the timing of a project.
Example 2-1: Setting priorities for projects
Example 2-2: Resource Constraints for Mega Projects
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2.4 Effects of Project Risks on Organization
The uncertainty in undertaking a construction project comes from many sources and often involves many participants in the project. Since each participant tries to minimize its own risk, the conflicts among various participants can be detrimental to the project. Only the owner has the power to moderate such conflicts as it alone holds the key to risk assignment through proper contractual relations with other participants. Failure to recognize this responsibility by the owner often leads to undesirable results. In recent years, the concept of "risk sharing/risk assignment" contracts has gained acceptance by the federal government.  Since this type of contract acknowledges the responsibilities of the owners, the contract prices are expected to be lower than those in which all risks are assigned to contractors.
In approaching the problem of uncertainty, it is important to recognize that incentives must be provided if any of the participants is expected to take a greater risk. The willingness of a participant to accept risks often reflects the professional competence of that participant as well as its propensity to risk. However, society's perception of the potential liabilities of the participant can affect the attitude of risk-taking for all participants. When a claim is made against one of the participants, it is difficult for the public to know whether a fraud has been committed, or simply that an accident has occurred.
Risks in construction projects may be classified in a number of ways.  One form of classification is as follows:
The environmental protection movement has contributed to the uncertainty for construction because of the inability to know what will be required and how long it will take to obtain approval from the regulatory agencies. The requirements of continued re-evaluation of problems and the lack of definitive criteria which are practical have also resulted in added costs. Public safety regulations have similar effects, which have been most noticeable in the energy field involving nuclear power plants and coal mining. The situation has created constantly shifting guidelines for engineers, constructors and owners as projects move through the stages of planning to construction. These moving targets add a significant new dimension of uncertainty which can make it virtually impossible to schedule and complete work at budgeted cost. Economic conditions of the past decade have further reinforced the climate of uncertainty with high inflation and interest rates. The deregulation of financial institutions has also generated unanticipated problems related to the financing of construction.
Uncertainty stemming from regulatory agencies, environmental issues and financial aspects of construction should be at least mitigated or ideally eliminated. Owners are keenly interested in achieving some form of breakthrough that will lower the costs of projects and mitigate or eliminate lengthy delays. Such breakthroughs are seldom planned. Generally, they happen when the right conditions exist, such as when innovation is permitted or when a basis for incentive or reward exists. However, there is a long way to go before a true partnership of all parties involved can be forged.
During periods of economic expansion, major capital expenditures are made by industries and bid up the cost of construction. In order to control costs, some owners attempt to use fixed price contracts so that the risks of unforeseen contingencies related to an overheated economy are passed on to contractors. However, contractors will raise their prices to compensate for the additional risks.
The risks related to organizational relationships may appear to be unnecessary but are quite real. Strained relationships may develop between various organizations involved in the design/construct process. When problems occur, discussions often center on responsibilities rather than project needs at a time when the focus should be on solving the problems. Cooperation and communication between the parties are discouraged for fear of the effects of impending litigation. This barrier to communication results from the ill-conceived notion that uncertainties resulting from technological problems can be eliminated by appropriate contract terms. The net result has been an increase in the costs of constructed facilities.
The risks related to technological problems are familiar to the design/construct professions which have some degree of control over this category. However, because of rapid advances in new technologies which present new problems to designers and constructors, technological risk has become greater in many instances. Certain design assumptions which have served the professions well in the past may become obsolete in dealing with new types of facilities which may have greater complexity or scale or both. Site conditions, particularly subsurface conditions which always present some degree of uncertainty, can create an even greater degree of uncertainty for facilities with heretofore unknown characteristics during operation. Because construction procedures may not have been fully anticipated, the design may have to be modified after construction has begun. An example of facilities which have encountered such uncertainty is the nuclear power plant, and many owners, designers and contractors have suffered for undertaking such projects.
If each of the problems cited above can cause uncertainty, the combination of such problems is often regarded by all parties as being out of control and inherently risky. Thus, the issue of liability has taken on major proportions and has influenced the practices of engineers and constructors, who in turn have influenced the actions of the owners.
Many owners have begun to understand the problems of risks and are seeking to address some of these problems. For example, some owners are turning to those organizations that offer complete capabilities in planning, design, and construction, and tend to avoid breaking the project into major components to be undertaken individually by specialty participants. Proper coordination throughout the project duration and good organizational communication can avoid delays and costs resulting from fragmentation of services, even though the components from various services are eventually integrated.
Attitudes of cooperation can be readily applied to the private sector, but only in special circumstances can they be applied to the public sector. The ability to deal with complex issues is often precluded in the competitive bidding which is usually required in the public sector. The situation becomes more difficult with the proliferation of regulatory requirements and resulting delays in design and construction while awaiting approvals from government officials who do not participate in the risks of the project.Back to top
2.5 Organization of Project Participants
The top management of the owner sets the overall policy and selects the appropriate organization to take charge of a proposed project. Its policy will dictate how the project life cycle is divided among organizations and which professionals should be engaged. Decisions by the top management of the owner will also influence the organization to be adopted for project management. In general, there are many ways to decompose a project into stages. The most typical ways are:
It should be pointed out that some decompositions may work out better than others, depending on the circumstances. In any case, the prevalence of decomposition makes the subsequent integration particularly important. The critical issues involved in organization for project management are:
There are two basic approaches to organize for project implementation, even though many variations may exist as a result of different contractual relationships adopted by the owner and builder. These basic approaches are divided along the following lines:
Since construction projects may be managed by a spectrum of participants in a variety of combinations, the organization for the management of such projects may vary from case to case. On one extreme, each project may be staffed by existing personnel in the functional divisions of the organization on an ad-hoc basis as shown in Figure 2-4 until the project is completed. This arrangement is referred to as the matrix organization as each project manager must negotiate all resources for the project from the existing organizational framework. On the other hand, the organization may consist of a small central functional staff for the exclusive purpose of supporting various projects, each of which has its functional divisions as shown in Figure 2-5. This decentralized set-up is referred to as the project oriented organization as each project manager has autonomy in managing the project. There are many variations of management style between these two extremes, depending on the objectives of the organization and the nature of the construction project. For example, a large chemical company with in-house staff for planning, design and construction of facilities for new product lines will naturally adopt the matrix organization. On the other hand, a construction company whose existence depends entirely on the management of certain types of construction projects may find the project-oriented organization particularly attractive. While organizations may differ, the same basic principles of management structure are applicable to most situations.
Figure 2-4: A Matrix Organization
Figure 2-5: A Project-Oriented Organization
To illustrate various types of organizations for project management, we shall consider two examples, the first one representing an owner organization while the second one representing the organization of a construction management consultant under the direct supervision of the owner.
Example 2-3: Matrix Organization of an Engineering Division
Figure 2-6: The Matrix Organization in an Engineering Division
Example 2-4: Example of Construction Management Consultant Organization
Figure 2-7: Coordination between Owner and Consultant
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2.6 Traditional Designer-Constructor Sequence
For ordinary projects of moderate size and complexity, the owner often employs a designer (an architectural/engineering firm) which prepares the detailed plans and specifications for the constructor (a general contractor). The designer also acts on behalf of the owner to oversee the project implementation during construction. The general contractor is responsible for the construction itself even though the work may actually be undertaken by a number of specialty subcontractors.
The owner usually negotiates the fee for service with the architectural/engineering (A/E) firm. In addition to the responsibilities of designing the facility, the A/E firm also exercises to some degree supervision of the construction as stipulated by the owner. Traditionally, the A/E firm regards itself as design professionals representing the owner who should not communicate with potential contractors to avoid collusion or conflict of interest. Field inspectors working for an A/E firm usually follow through the implementation of a project after the design is completed and seldom have extensive input in the design itself. Because of the litigation climate in the last two decades, most A/E firms only provide observers rather than inspectors in the field. Even the shop drawings of fabrication or construction schemes submitted by the contractors for approval are reviewed with a disclaimer of responsibility by the A/E firms.
The owner may select a general constructor either through competitive bidding or through negotiation. Public agencies are required to use the competitive bidding mode, while private organizations may choose either mode of operation. In using competitive bidding, the owner is forced to use the designer-constructor sequence since detailed plans and specifications must be ready before inviting bidders to submit their bids. If the owner chooses to use a negotiated contract, it is free to use phased construction if it so desires.
The general contractor may choose to perform all or part of the construction work, or act only as a manager by subcontracting all the construction to subcontractors. The general contractor may also select the subcontractors through competitive bidding or negotiated contracts. The general contractor may ask a number of subcontractors to quote prices for the subcontracts before submitting its bid to the owner. However, the subcontractors often cannot force the winning general contractor to use them on the project. This situation may lead to practices known as bid shopping and bid peddling. Bid shopping refers to the situation when the general contractor approaches subcontractors other than those whose quoted prices were used in the winning contract in order to seek lower priced subcontracts. Bid peddling refers to the actions of subcontractors who offer lower priced subcontracts to the winning general subcontractors in order to dislodge the subcontractors who originally quoted prices to the general contractor prior to its bid submittal. In both cases, the quality of construction may be sacrificed, and some state statutes forbid these practices for public projects.
Although the designer-constructor sequence is still widely used because of the public perception of fairness in competitive bidding, many private owners recognize the disadvantages of using this approach when the project is large and complex and when market pressures require a shorter project duration than that which can be accomplished by using this traditional method.Back to top
2.7 Professional Construction Management
Professional construction management refers to a project management team consisting of a professional construction manager and other participants who will carry out the tasks of project planning, design and construction in an integrated manner. Contractual relationships among members of the team are intended to minimize adversarial relationships and contribute to greater response within the management group. A professional construction manager is a firm specialized in the practice of professional construction management which includes:
Professional construction management is usually used when a project is very large or complex. The organizational features that are characteristics of mega-projects can be summarized as follows:
Consequently, it is important to recognize the changing nature of the organizational structure as a project is carried out in various stages.
Example 2-5: Managing of the Alaska Pipeline Project
Example 2-6: Managing the Channel Tunnel Construction from Britain to France
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2.8 Owner-Builder Operation
In this approach an owner must have a steady flow of on-going projects in order to maintain a large work force for in-house operation. However, the owner may choose to subcontract a substantial portion of the project to outside consultants and contractors for both design and construction, even though it retains centralized decision making to integrate all efforts in project implementation.
Example 2-7: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Organization
Figure 2-8: Organization of a District of Corps of Engineers
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2.9 Turnkey Operation
Some owners wish to delegate all responsibilities of design and construction to outside consultants in a turnkey project arrangement. A contractor agrees to provide the completed facility on the basis of performance specifications set forth by the owner. The contractor may even assume the responsibility of operating the project if the owner so desires. In order for a turnkey operation to succeed, the owner must be able to provide a set of unambiguous performance specifications to the contractor and must have complete confidence in the capability of the contractor to carry out the mission.
This approach is the direct opposite of the owner-builder approach in which the owner wishes to retain the maximum amount of control for the design-construction process.
Example 2-8: An Example of a Turnkey Organization
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2.10 Leadership and Motivation for the Project Team
The project manager, in the broadest sense of the term, is the most important person for the success or failure of a project. The project manager is responsible for planning, organizing and controlling the project. In turn, the project manager receives authority from the management of the organization to mobilize the necessary resources to complete a project.
The project manager must be able to exert interpersonal influence in order to lead the project team. The project manager often gains the support of his/her team through a combination of the following:
In a matrix organization, the members of the functional departments may be accustomed to a single reporting line in a hierarchical structure, but the project manager coordinates the activities of the team members drawn from functional departments. The functional structure within the matrix organization is responsible for priorities, coordination, administration and final decisions pertaining to project implementation. Thus, there are potential conflicts between functional divisions and project teams. The project manager must be given the responsibility and authority to resolve various conflicts such that the established project policy and quality standards will not be jeopardized. When contending issues of a more fundamental nature are developed, they must be brought to the attention of a high level in the management and be resolved expeditiously.
In general, the project manager's authority must be clearly documented as well as defined, particularly in a matrix organization where the functional division managers often retain certain authority over the personnel temporarily assigned to a project. The following principles should be observed:
2.11 Interpersonal Behavior in Project Organizations
While a successful project manager must be a good leader, other members of the project team must also learn to work together, whether they are assembled from different divisions of the same organization or even from different organizations. Some problems of interaction may arise initially when the team members are unfamiliar with their own roles in the project team, particularly for a large and complex project. These problems must be resolved quickly in order to develop an effective, functioning team.
Many of the major issues in construction projects require effective interventions by individuals, groups and organizations. The fundamental challenge is to enhance communication among individuals, groups and organizations so that obstacles in the way of improving interpersonal relations may be removed. Some behavior science concepts are helpful in overcoming communication difficulties that block cooperation and coordination. In very large projects, professional behavior scientists may be necessary in diagnosing the problems and advising the personnel working on the project. The power of the organization should be used judiciously in resolving conflicts.
The major symptoms of interpersonal behavior problems can be detected by experienced observers, and they are often the sources of serious communication difficulties among participants in a project. For example, members of a project team may avoid each other and withdraw from active interactions about differences that need to be dealt with. They may attempt to criticize and blame other individuals or groups when things go wrong. They may resent suggestions for improvement, and become defensive to minimize culpability rather than take the initiative to maximize achievements. All these actions are detrimental to the project organization.
While these symptoms can occur to individuals at any organization, they are compounded if the project team consists of individuals who are put together from different organizations. Invariably, different organizations have different cultures or modes of operation. Individuals from different groups may not have a common loyalty and may prefer to expand their energy in the directions most advantageous to themselves instead of the project team. Therefore, no one should take it for granted that a project team will work together harmoniously just because its members are placed physically together in one location. On the contrary, it must be assumed that good communication can be achieved only through the deliberate effort of the top management of each organization contributing to the joint venture.Back to top
2.12 Perceptions of Owners and Contractors
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 in 1984. 
From the responses of six contractors, the key factors cited for successful projects are:
Conversely, the key factors cited for unsuccessful projects are:
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:
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.Back to top