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Task Duration in the Construction and Engineer Industry

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I will be comparing the Services Industry abilities in project planning to that of the Construction and Engineering field. The services industry falls short of CE (Construction and Engineering) in many ways and there is a lot of room for improvement. However, the two industries are very different in nature.

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Construction and Engineering has a long history of project management focus. It was civil engineers and architects that pioneered project management long ago in the early1900’s (Pinto, 1995, p. 2 ).

In the 1950’s, construction and engineering organizations really started to systematically apply project management tool and techniques. Henry Gantt was an engineer! From my experience, project managers in the SE industry are not trained especially for this role. Often we are in a functional role within the company and given a project to manage as extra responsibility. The SE industry is also a much more customer-focused business. It’s interesting to note that customer satisfaction runs high in the journal’s statistics, despite its low scores in other areas.

James Harrington (2000) said, “Quality is meeting or exceeding customer expectations at a cost that represents value to them. ” Project Managers in the SE industry will work harder to satisfy customers, allowing scope creep and the like in order to provide a better project in spite of time and cost delays. The following statistics summarize the journal article results for the CE and SE industry. SE cost and schedule overruns and organization support were the largest negative variances against CE. Project Planning Success in CE and SE Industry

CESEBetter/(Worse) Cost Overrun (%)17%23%(35%) Schedule Overrun19%27%(42%) Performance8. 18. 32% Customer Satisfaction8. 18. 32% Organizational Support3. 83. 2(16%) In a recent study of 100 companies, only 37% of major SE projects were completed on time and only 42% were completed on budget (Gordon, 1999). I think the answers to improving cost and schedule overruns lie in improving the organizational support first. Mochal (2003 p. 3) said, culture plays a big role in how successful SE’s are in executing projects.

SE’s typically have no formality or consistency in project management processes. Each time a new project comes up, the wheel is re-created. SE’s need a good, scalable project management process where teams are generally going to create and follow a work plan, and can use standard processes to effectively handle risk, scope change and issues. SE’s also need better governance. By this, I mean management needs to be more engaged and interested in projects. If management starts projects and leaves the project manager in a leadership vacuum, it’s hard to be consistently successful.

Accuracy in time and resources are also important factors to successful project planning. They are however, not as critical as in the CE business. If a task is over duration in the SE industry, it’s not like a multi million-dollar crane is sitting idol. The cost repercussions are not as easily quantified. There should also be some leniency to this within the SE industry. Task duration in the CE industry is easier to plan for. Historical data is readily available on pouring concrete foundations, laying brickwork, etc.

Within SE, the schedule may include a one-time task that the project manager has never performed before. Due to the complexity of the project the scope may not be wholly known making task duration even harder to calculate. While there is wide room for improvement in the delivery of time and cost estimates, the SE industry should continue to look and rely on its customer satisfaction rates. Projects should not be considered a success purely in terms of its timeliness. The Sydney Opera House was seen by most as a stupendous failure.

It was a music hall with poor acoustics, stunningly over cost and behind schedule. Decades later, this same structure in a national treasure to Australians, its massive cost and schedule overruns long ago forgotten. References: Gordon Mochal, T (2003) Tools and Techniques, Workforce Management, (Online) Available from : http://articles. techrepublic. om/5100-10878_11-5035216. html (Accessed April 12, 2010) Pinto J (1995) Successful Project Managers, Leading Your Team to Success, Project Management Journal (Online) Available from: (accessed April 9, 2010)

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