Global Director of the Built Environment, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Project management in the growing industry of construction plays a vital roll. However recent tragedies show more and more, the need for uniformity in standards.
Construction workloads in the UK are continuing to rise. Project management in this area not only occupies a central role in development and driving successful completion of projects, but recent construction-related tragedies have also highlighted the need for better management of both new-build and maintenance schemes. While there are many other challenges in construction, adoption of consistent and global construction standards would allow better management of projects, and would also give the UK a boost in attracting investment into vitally needed infrastructure projects.
At present, there is a lack of uniformity in how construction projects and costs are measured and reported around the world, which can provide risks. Ultimately, better management of schemes will depend on better decision-making regarding the complex tradeoffs between design, cost, quality and whole life considerations. In order for this to occur, these decisions depend upon better information and the need for standards to collect and compare data.
Common, international standards make decision-making simpler
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors(RICS) set standards for its professionals in the industry, and chartered quantity surveyors – experts in the financial management of construction – commit to working to the best practice through RICS standards. They are often responsible for managing construction projects, and they also ensure the economic optimisation of construction projects through a process of prediction, control and challenge. As construction becomes more global, both in terms of funding and implementation, international learning through common international standards becomes more important and ensures better information for investment decisions.
The sector’s growth means there is an increasing need for effective project management.
Clear standards against which professionals can perform their duties eliminate ambiguity and promote best practice. They also help to ensure clients receive objective advice, delivered in a professional manner, with a consistent approach, and they provide clients with benchmarks by which to gauge services when employing professionals.
Standards in Construction
RICS chartered quantity surveyors adhere to the RICS ‘Black Book’. It promotes best practice and guarantees clients receive objective advice with a consistent approach.
Aside from the ‘Black Book’, professionals should also adopt and be aware of International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS). ICMS is a high-level international standard that aims to provide greater global consistency in the classification, definition, measurement, analysis and presentation of construction costs at a project, regional, state or national/international level. The standard has already been adopted by many leading global construction consultancies including Arup, Arcadis and Turner & Townsend.
The standard has been written by a group of independent industry experts, and the International Construction Measurement Standards Coalition (ICMSC) is a growing group of more than 40 global professional organisations developing and implement international standards for benchmarking, measuring and reporting construction project cost.
Why adopt international standards?
The sector’s growth means there is an increasing need for effective project management. That growth fuels the need for more trusted, skilled and regulated professionals and the accurate reporting of costs. This is critical not only in terms of attracting investors, but also for assessing the economic viability of projects and maximising their impact.
While there are many other challenges in construction, adoption of consistent and global construction standards would allow better management of projects.
Widespread adoption of ICMS in the construction market here could provide the UK with a real competitive advantage and also provides global consistency in reporting; the kind of consistency that inward investors increasingly demand, and government projects need.
Equally, project managers in construction need a strong understanding that ethical behaviour leads to better business outcomes. Construction projects involve large financial transactions and a professional approach is required to objectively assess and decide the right course of action. International Ethics Standards (IES) provides best practice and is clear and very transparent about what professional ethics should be.
To succeed in project management, these skills and behaviours need to be augmented with high-quality soft skills in communication, negotiation and motivation. Bringing all this together results in a chartered project management surveyor who can add value and allow more certainty and transparency in the construction process. This will bring further investment to an industry that needs to deliver a huge programme of work if societies are going to benefit from modern, reliable and sustainable housing and infrastructure.
RICS UK Construction and Infrastructure market survey Q2 2018