The Case for Continuity
Can a strategic project management approach help overcome the problems clients are facing in getting their residential projects delivered?
The answer is a definite yes. The combination of initiatives designed to increase the supply of new housing and proposed regulatory changes have come together to make the case for appointing a Strategic Project Manager much more compelling. There are now three very strong reasons why clients should appoint a Strategic Project Manager at the start of their residential projects:
1. Managing modular construction effectively
The early appointment of a Strategic Project Manager allows co-ordinated decisions to be made on the use of modular construction. The use of volumetric modular systems has the capacity to reduce construction time and improve construction quality. However volumetric systems are not interchangeable and key procurement decisions need to be made prior to planning in order to maximise the benefits. Early procurement decisions need to be made in a co-ordinated way to avoid the loss of commercial tension needed to drive down prices.
2. Value engineering marginal schemes
A Strategic Project Manager can also coordinate upfront cost advice and “sense check” development appraisal assumptions. Alternative phasing and construction sequencing will affect the procurement options and timetable and can significantly change cashflow and peak debt. Waiting until after planning is too late to rescue a marginal scheme.
3. Managing BIM effectively
Finally, a Strategic Project Manager can co-ordinate the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to ensure that the digital records clients will now need to create projects, are produced in a timely manner. The increased focus on Fire Compliance and the proposed regulatory changes in response to the Hackitt Review mean that clients will have to take control of BIM on their projects. Clients will need to prepare Employer’s Information Requirements (EIR) and BIM Execution Plan (BEP) documents at the start to ensure that the 3D model is layered correctly and contains the right information. The 3D model will then need to be federated across all design consultants and the resultant digital record managed throughout the project lifecycle. Importantly, 3D models will now start to be used by construction quality compliance inspectors and fire safety compliance inspectors. They will also play a central role when clients prepare future Safety Case Reviews. The nature of BIM means that information cannot be easily extracted if the model has not been set up correctly by the client’s design team.
The key is to provide leadership and continuity throughout the project lifecycle. The way in which we deliver housing is changing and becoming more and more complex. We need effective leadership to bring all these new elements together.
Splitting delivery into two phases, led first by the client’s Development Manager and then by a consultant acting as Employer’s Agent creates real problems. The early appointment of a Strategic Project Manager overcomes these problems and provides the leadership and continuity that residential projects desperately need.
Philip Pamment is Associate Partner and Head of Residential (South) at CPC Project Services.
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