Article by: Symon A.Kwatsima

The term project is used in project management to refer to an organization, usually a matrix one, which is different from an existing line-hierarchy. This reference is situating and the project serves as an alternative approach to achieving goals.

The term ‘project ‘used in general project management is different from that used in construction. In construction, the client is neither internal nor external .This is because the functional departments to be coordinated -design team, contractors, suppliers, consultants etc ,are not in most cases, part of clients organization. Consequently, it is difficult for the client to delegate fully the performance responsibility and authority to a construction project manager.

The construction project: – a special case
The construction project has the characteristics described as necessary in project definition. It however differs in many aspects from other types of projects.

The role of the client, although similar to that of top management of an institution commissioning a project, is rather unique. The client does not control the designing and the constructing firms administratively. It is the conditions of the contract between that regulate their relationships.

In the construction industry, the project approach is a normal way of doing business!

Structures of project organization constitute independent architectural, engineering, and quantity surveying practices as well as construction firms. A fully established construction industry indeed exists only for the purpose. This makes the construction project, compared with other types of projects, a unique case.

As an investment good, the projects product (capital good) contributes significantly to the gross capital formation of an economy. Governments, directly as clients and indirectly through the fiscal and monetary policies, use construction industry to regulate their economies. This is necessary in order to influence solvency, employment, economic growth, and control inflation.

No doubt, the “project “ implied in general “project management” theory faces different circumstances from those faced by a construction project. The nature of a construction product and the process of making decisions during its planning and construction differ very significantly from those of other sectors.

Due to the different ion of the services offered by the design and construction teams, the construction project is mainly coordinative. Design and construction are performed by different organizations. This temporal and organizational separation does not, in the operations, favors economies of scale, or, in the leadership, support the unity of command. The same has, within the professionals, led to a build-up of parochial royalties to their professions which threaten the co-operative effort of the project organization.

It is surprising that management methods have not established themselves in this area where, in the author’s opinion, they are most required. The industry is faced with the challenge to develop a professional with the technical know-how of the industry and a specialist in its managerial, economic and legal aspects. The engineer’s approach, which emphasizes on the tools, though a recommendable attempt, is not adequate. Tools and techniques are technology based and become obsolete with the technology. Management principles, on the other hand, provide a reliable and an all-time knowledge base.

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