A project is a complex endeavor in which financial, human and material resources are of paramount importance. These are usually organized in a novel manner in order to effectively cover a defined scope of specified work. Usually, the amount and nature of resources that are employed in a certain project are depended on the complexity of the given project. Furthermore, project completion is expected within a given timeframe in a bit to meet quantifiable goals and objectives. The inherent time and costs constraints require that the relative expertise be coordinated accordingly and any shortcomings be addressed by relevant parties in an effective and timely manner. In this consideration therefore management of time and quality performance is essential for attaining the highest degree of sustainability. Furthermore, it can not be disputed that sustainable projects are influenced by efficient organization and mobilization of the available resources.
Just like other projects, construction projects tend to be complex in nature. Usually, these projects are categorized in different phases and stages. Tasks are undertaken progressively and within a defined period of time. In other words, the phases are sequential and assume the stages of development and implementation. Further, such projects involve different actors that arrange from clients to contractors and consultants. The tasks that these perform share an intricate relationship that requires utmost coordination. It is against this background that this paper provides a model risk management plan of building home in the Midwest. In order to enhance coherence, the paper begins by providing a description of the project. Then, it proceeds to underscoring a work program structure. From this, it highlights five critical risks and develops a viable management and monitoring plan to address the respective risks.
The project entails a design and construction of a house on a 7000 square foot land in Midwest. The relevant finances have been pooled together and would cater for the cost of human as well as material resources. The project is supposed to take a period of nine months and to undergo a series of sequential phases beginning with the program phase. After conceiving and analyzing the viability of the project, it was decided that it is viable as it would provide the family with essential housing. This preceded the design phase that would be characterized by a construction of drawings of the house in light of the personal preferences of the clients.
Notably, this is a complex and comprehensive task as client preferences are largely subjective. There would be need to contact a contractor who would be responsible for executing the job accordingly. The selection criteria would be based on a wide range of issues such as professionalism and effectiveness. Although the stage is very competitive, this would be dire need to embrace objectivity in choosing the contractor. The fact that the home would be customized would also require close collaboration with the client.
2.6.1 Installation of felt
2.6.2 Installation of shingles
2.6.3 Installation of vents
3.1 Framing the exterior walls of the building
3.2 Framing the interior walls of the building
3.3 Tilling the roof accordingly in a bit to make it water tight
4.0 Plumbing Infrastructure
4.1 Installing the exterior water lines in the system
4.2 Installing interior water lines in the system
4.3 Installing the exterior gas lines in the system
4.4 Installing interior gas lines
4.5 Installing the B/K Fixtures
5.0 Electrical Infrastructure
5.1 installing exterior wire lines
5.2 Installing interior wire lines
5.3 Installing exterior switches and outlets
5.4 Installing interior switches and outlets
5.5 Installing fixtures
It is widely agreed that in order to save time and enhance timely completion of the project, plumbing and cabling can be undertaken simultaneously with framing. The former plays an integral role in facilitating heating and lighting of the house. Nonetheless, this requires utmost expertise to avoid incidences of undermining the effectives of any of the procedures.
6.0 Plastering add Dry lining
This ensures that the walls are boarded with a board that is made of a high density material. In addition, the process culminates n development of smooth walls that are fundamental for effective decoration. Furthermore, plastering ensures that the wall is resistant to external forces that might compromise its longevity.
7.0 Second installation of fixtures
During the initial installation of fixtures, the kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms were installed along with sockets, light fittings and switches. The second fixing entails installation of the bathroom with these fixtures as well as ceramic tilling of the bathrooms.
8.0 Interior Decoration
8.1 Installation of carpets to enhance visual appeal
8.2 painting of the interior walls to enhance the visual appeal
8.3 decoration of the ceiling
Notably, all these activities are preceded by the installation of a dry wall. Basically, this is integral in ensuring a smooth finish.
9.0 External Works
9.1 landscaping enhances the exterior design and it needs to be undertaken by a professional in order to attain optimal results
9.2 Fencing is important to secure the home
9.3 Laying the driveway
10.0 Quality Control
Usually, quality control is attained through periodic evaluation of the project as it progresses. This is cared out by the site manager together with external agents in order to enhance objectivity. However, a final evaluation needs to be done by the site manager in order to make sure that the house is of high quality. This is important to identify any issues and resolve them according before handing over the project to the client.
The identification of this risk was done by brainstorming. In particular, a group of stakeholders that deal with varied areas of expertise a identified and a meeting scheduled for this. Then, the group leader introduced the topic regarding the anticipated risks that the project was bound to face. He then requested the members to make individual contributions based on the identified risk of complex structures that would undermine effective performance. From this, most members identified the relative poor planning of the subcontractors to be the most common shortcoming that construction projects grapple with. At this point, Bradley (2005) ascertains that construction projects require a wide range of parties and professionals that are responsible for performing different tasks. In particular, effective execution of the project requires input form the policy makers, consultants, designers, engineers and the general contractor. Notably, these persons tend to be already busy with other projects especially considering that they are not entirely involved in the project at hand. Incidences of poor planning are therefore inevitable as there would be need for fixing certain activities in their already busy schedules. This is particularly so because the respective activities occur during specified periods of the project cycle. In appropriate planning of these subcontractors has far reaching implications on the holistic welfare of the project.
To begin with, the characteristic delays can culminate in the delay of the entire project. This can lead to loss of trust by the client in the contractor. In addition, it can compromise the quality of the overall work as the contractor can be compelled to make rushed decisions in a bit to counter the scenario. The ultimate client dissatisfaction affects the reputation of the respective firm. According to Kerzner (1997), this has detrimental effects on the future welfare of such a firm as it reduces business prospects. Further, inappropriate planning can culminate in poor relationships between the subcontracting firms. In this regard, it is worth acknowledging that viable relationships are fundamental for effective functioning of all parties. This is because they aid in easing communication and information flow between the stakeholders. At this juncture, it can not be disputed that information sharing is imperatively important for enhancing timely decision making. Compromising this can have devastating effects on timely completion of the project. Again, this has diverse impacts on the quality of the work and credibility of the main contractor.
Identification of this risk was undertaken using the Delphi technique. In this regard, the project manager began by identifying key stakeholders in the project. Particular interest was placed on the experts that perform professional roles such as designing, consultancy as well as various contractors. One of the main risks that they agreed that it is likely to occur pertained to lack of sufficient financial resources by the contractor to finance the different stages of the project. In his research, Haugan (2002) agrees that the firm that wins the contract requires a certain amount of financial resources to begin the project, after which it would be progressively paid by the contractor. As aforementioned, construction requires a wide array of human and material resources that are in some instances very costly. The experts in relative fields agreed that the respective firm is likely to run short of financial resources before its application of first payment. Usually, this occurs due to changes in prices of the required resources. In addition, poor planning might also contribute to the shortage of financial resources.
In certain instances, the management of the project might be unfamiliar with the costs of the resources in the particular region. Coupled with uncertainty with regards to the cost of the resources, this can culminate in instances of shortage of financial resources at certain stages of the project. Likewise, this has negative effects on the holistic functioning of the project. To begin with, shortage of this critical resource can threaten the very completion of the project by halting it. In such cases, the client and other stakeholders suffer massive losses. The very firm suffers the most because of the resultant bad reputation as well as the legal implications of not completing the project. Shortage of funds can also compromise the overall quality of the project in different ways.
To begin with, the respective firm might resort to using substandard material to build the home. This undermines its stability and can have massive negative impacts in times of emergences or during natural disasters such as earthquakes. It might also cost the respective firm significant resources in the long run when it fails to meet the expected standards during evaluation. Further, shortage of financial resources is likely to prevent the respective firm form meeting the deadlines and cause unnecessary delays. Since various parties are often involved in the project, this has far reaching implications as besides delaying the completion of the process, it can also compromise the quality and ruin the relationships between different firms.
Considering that the project often has a definite timeframe, slow decision making has also been identified as a possible risk that can prevent timely completion. This risk was identified through face to face interviews with the relevant stakeholders. In this respect, the researcher developed an interview schedule and booked appointments with different experts that had participated in previous projects. Stakeholders of this particular project were also interviewed and findings indicated that the slow decision making process that at times characterizes the construction process can impact negatively on the entire project. In this respect, The Project Management Body of Knowledge (2001) affirms that the viability of construction projects is usually highly dependent on effective decision making. This is partly contributed to by the recognition that such projects are sensitive and involve a wide range of resources. Therefore, effective decision making is essential in enhancing their credibility and overall quality. In addition, the decision makers comprise of experts form diverse fields of specification. These have their individuals models of decision making that differ considerably form their counterparts. The need to consult amongst different stakeholders can in some instances slow the decision making process. Just like the preceding risks this affects the welfare of the entire projects in different ways.
Firstly, slow decision making can delay the completion of the project and culminate in dissatisfaction of the owner. This also hurts the reputation of the respective firm and makes it difficult for it to acquire future contracts. Slow decision making can also have adverse effects on the quality of the project. In this respect, it is worth noting that during certain courses of construction, delays can have detrimental effects on the respective building. For instance, slow decision making that leads to delays in roofing can expose the building to the extreme weather conditions. Ensuing implications can increase the costs of the projects and expand the budge beyond the expected limit. Secondly, slow decision making can trigger conflicts amongst stakeholders. For example, supposing the slow decision making pertains to making of payments, this can discourage the suppliers from making timely delivery of the required resources. This impacts on the progress of the project as subsequent tasks or activities would not be performed in a timely manner.
Although effective decision making is essential for enhancing optimal performance of the respective firm, this needs to be undertaken in a timely manner in order to ease operations. The ultimate decisions at different stages of construction also need to be communicated to the relevant stakeholders accordingly. This will play an instrumental role in enhancing operation and would avoid incidences of blame that undermine performance. Moreover, it would strengthen relationships between stakeholders and enhance quality production in the long run. Certainly, this is fundamental for attaining the highest degree of sustainability.
Through a comprehensive review of the documentation that was provided by the contractor, it was identified that inadequate experience is also an inherent risk that can undermine the quality of performance. In this regard, the project documents lacked certain critical information that inexperienced contractors exhibit. In addition, there were inherent inconsistencies in information pertaining to the scope of the project. Furthermore, missing information with respect to periodic evaluation was a clear indication that the contractor does not have sufficient capacities with respect to practical skills and knowledge to undertake the project in a sustainable manner. In his review, Chapman (2004) cites that this is a hidden risk that most managers fail to identify before hand. Usually lack of experience implies that the contractor does not understand the complex dynamics of construction. This also shows that the contractor is unlikely to deliver the highest quality on completion of the project.
Sufficient experience in the field of construction is very important for optimal performance. Besides having theoretical information at the finger tips, it is vital to have practical skills and knowledge that are only attained through experience. More over, experience enables an individual to understand the complex dynamics of the construction environment. The contractor in this regard is also able to understand the uncertainties that characterize the construction field. With this knowledge, the respective contractor would be able to perform optimally. In contrast, contractors who lack this knowledge seldom understand the dynamics of the construction field. They are unlikely to perform well because of the inability to anticipate uncertainties and take timely measures to cushion themselves against the relative negative implications of these.
By reviewing a checklist containing previous experiences, it was also identified that this type of project is likely to be liable to the implication of owner interference. In his study, Haugan (2002) contends that building homes or residential houses is often compounded by various complexities because more often than not, the owner might want to personalize the process. Aspects pertaining to color schemes and landscaping are likely to be determined by the preferences of the owner. In instances where the owner is likely to make changes along the way, this can have far reaching impacts on the entire project. This particularly occurs when the contractor has already ordered for and in some instances already paid for the supplies. It creates inconveniences and culminates in extra costs that the owner might not be ready to shoulder. Moreover, it creates conflicts amongst stakeholders and partners as mutual trust is eroded. This undermines performance because of the fact that activities are carried out under a tensed environment.
From the preceding analysis, it is certain that the identified risks can compromise the holistic welfare of the environment and culminate in inefficiencies. Most importantly, the risks can threaten the very wellbeing of the project by halting it. In this consideration therefore, it is important to put in place vital intervention measures that can be used to counter the scenario. Addressing these risks can go a long way in eliminating any inefficiencies and improving the quality of the ultimate results. To address the risk of poor planning by subcontractors, the main contractor needs to establish clear coordination structures that are characterized by effective and open communication systems that enhance information sharing. In addition, it is vital for the contractors to partner with subcontractors that have a record of quality performance. Although this may not completely eliminate the problem, it would reduce the probability of its occurrence.
With respect to shortage of finances, the respective firms need to ensure that they have extra resources to cater for emergent costs. In this respect, it should be appreciated that the market environment is particularly very volatile and liable to dynamic changes at any given time. It is therefore important for the contractor to ensure that there are sufficient extra resources to cater for these concerns. More over, contractors would be required to undertake an intensive market analysis with regards to prices of resources before making their quotations. This would go a long way in enhancing precision and accuracy. Besides, the contractors can address this concern by making single purchases in bulk. This will cushion them against the implications of market inconsistencies that can occur after the initial purchase. Basically, this requires effective planning as well as anticipation of uncertainties. Alternatively, the contractors can consider taking loans to finance the projects or the uncertainties in such cases. This can be effective in curbing the negative impacts that stem from delays and poor relationships.
As much as effective decision making is mandatory, it should be acknowledged that timely execution of decisions is essential during construction. To counter this, the contractor needs to ease communication and coordinate activities accordingly. Then, it is important for the contractor to have sufficient experience, skills ad knowledge to execute the project with ease. This can be attained through capacity building that usually occurs continuously. As indicated earlier, practical experience has immeasurable benefits as it sharpens the skills of the respective person. In addition, it exposes the person to a wide range of challenges, further enhancing critical thinking and analysis skills. Certainly, these are essential for addressing the emergent and complex issues that characterize the construction environment. With regards to client intrusion, it should be appreciated that this is inevitable because of the nature of the project. The contractor can deal with this by assuming flexibility with respect to decision making. In addition, sparing certain resources for such emergencies would reduce the severity of the respective implications.
As it has come out form the study, projects are complex endeavors that require effective mobilization of human, material and financial resources. Construction based projects are particularly sensitive and require utmost management in order to eliminate possibilities for losses that can be immense. Such projects tend to comprise of sequential phases that require effective and timely decision making practices in order to accomplish them. The project in this review entailed building a home in Midwest over a period of nine months. The work breakdown structure ascertains that the project is very comprehensive and requires the input of various parties in order to succeed. By use of multiple risk identification tools as well as techniques, it is certain that the project’s sustainability is undermined by various risks. These range from financial constraints, poor planning of sub contractors and interference by owners to lack of experience by contractors and slow decision making.
Notably, most of the risks can not be entirely eliminated and as such, measures have been identified to reduce their complexity an ultimate implication on the entire project. As it has come out form the study, measures such as sparing funds for emergencies, undertaking intensive market research prior to project execution and capacity building and training can go a long way in addressing the inherent inconsistencies. At this juncture, it is worth acknowledging that the entire exercise has been very insightful. Besides enabling me to understand the intricate complexities that compound project risk management, it has also enhanced by creative and critical thinking skills as well as my appreciation of the critical role of experience in improving performance.
Bradley, M. (2005). Independent Verification and Validation White paper. Retrieved 18th September 2010 from: http://www.mantech.com/comps/white%20papers/IVV%20white%20paper.pdf
Chapman, R. (2004). Work Breakdown Structures. Retrieved 18th September 2010 from: www.hyperthot.com/pm_wbs.htm
Haugan, G. (2002). Effective Work Breakdown Structure: The Cornerstone of Project Management. Virginia: ESI International.
Kerzner, H. (1997). Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Project Management Body of Knowledge (2001). Project Management. Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute.
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