In search of the project manager of the future in the construction industry - Briab - Brand, Risk & Säkerhet

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In search of the project manager of the future in the construction industry

Sweden is in the middle of an enormous challenge, where construction must become more efficient and sustainable. At Briab, we are convinced that more powerful project management is one of the solutions. So how does the relationship between builder and project management look today? We carried out our own, study to learn more. Here’s what we found.

Background

The challenge is clear. According to the National Housing Board’s prognosis, 710,000 apartments must be built by 2025. Add to this a lot of infrastructure and other urban development construction. But are we prepared? The country has not seen construction on such a level since the days of the Million Program in the 1970s. According to the Swedish Construction Federation’s latest report, a record number of residential construction projects have been started this year, but the number is expected to drop already next year.

Furthermore, in the year 2017, almost one third of production costs were wasted on mistakes that could have been avoided. Errors on drawings, materials delivered at the wrong time and costly delays due to poor follow-up are examples of carelessness that cost 50 billion annually in ready cash.

Since the industry has done well for many years, construction companies have not needed to put energy into renewing themselves. In order to deliver in line with the high demand, and adapt themselves to digitalization, there must be change and development within the industry.

How do we move into the future
Briab offers services within fire protection, risk management, and now also project management. We believe that advanced project management is a way of getting increased efficiency and better results in construction projects. However, how does the market look at the relationship between builders and project managers? What expectations do today’s project managers have?

We requested the investigation company Alba to conduct a study with the help of qualitative in-depth interviews. Alba interviewed purchasers of project management services, project managers within building and construction, pure project management companies and large IT companies.

This is what we found:

Who leads whom?
The project manager should guide the builder through complex projects, even though no one can oversee or have full control of the parts that are included. In return, the project manager expects the client to take the lead through well-informed and detailed documentation, while all the employees work together in the background. So, both the parties tacitly strive toward being guided through the project jungle and expect management from each other.

The clients expectations

Those who buy the services think that the project manager must have knowledge and qualities that far exceed the actual project. The client expects the project manager to spend a lot of time in understanding the project goals in depth and not just execute based on the available data. The project manager is also required to identify and manage stakeholders who are important for the project’s execution and the end result.

Often, the client feels that the project manager must have control of the entire project, even if he or she only has a contract for a smaller portion. The expectations are that the project manager should have an overall command of everything from finance to legislation and time frames. Moreover, the person should fit with the corporate culture, and deliver the project on time.

The project manager’s expectations
The project manager expects in return to be guided through the project by the client. This might be about being equipped with well-supported and accurate background information, but even if the client expects to have complete command of the compliance with laws and regulations. Not least, the project manager assumes that it is the client’s responsibility to drive and complete the project by the established time.

Three conclusions about the market’s requirements for today’s project manager
The result of the study shows that leadership and communication are crucial for the delivery of successful projects. And this is exactly where projects often fail, which leads to the construction faults and inefficiency.

  • The future project manager: a powerful leader and communicator
    The client expects the project manager to control the project with great technical expertise. Our study also shows that social skills and good leadership capabilities are increasingly in demand.
  • The project manager as a superhero
    The standards for project managers today are sky-high. Clients take it for granted that apart from what is included in the specification, project managers should also do the little extra and work as a catalyst. This may, for instance, involve taking complete responsibility for the whole of the project even if she or he is contacted for a limited part, or reading between the lines and meeting the client’s unspoken wishes.
  • The end for the sole project manager?
    The project manager bears a heavy burden of responsibility, which results in a reduced ability to perform optimally. “I don’t have the time to communicate with the entire administration and attend all the meetings”, is a common comment. In a world where the rate of change continues to increase, the “sole” project manager has limited possibility to take charge and deliver at a maximum level.

As a result of the study, we at Briab have chiseled out a new form of project management which we call project team management. We consider active risk management, clear communication and a more motivated leadership as evident factors for running construction projects safely and effectively. Do you want to know more? Call or email us, so we can book a meeting!

Sources: Rapport 2016:18 från Boverket, ”Reviderad prognos över behovet av nya bostäder till 2025”, Sveriges Byggindustriers konjunkturrapport oktober 2017, Slutrapport från Byggkommittén Fi 20014:15

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