Not yet a project DCM week #1

Maybe starting a project is the most challenging phase of large construction projects. The reason why I think scoping is extremely important and the reason why we discuss setting up a project during the first week of our course. There are several reasons to pay attention to scoping during the first week. I would like to address two of them in this post. The first is to understand what the project is about and the second is what your assignment and the assignment of others is.

The project scope defines what the project is. I like the boundaries approach: “this is within the boundaries and part of the project and this is out of the boundaries and therefore no part of the project”. The scope definition is important for the client, for you, and your team, in order to know what the aim of the project and your collaboration is. For instance. The aim is to design and construct a house, but the garden is not part of the project. The garden will be organized as a separate project. Or, the goal is to design and construct a theatre but the public space around it is not part of the project. The latter will be the project and responsibility of the municipality.

The second important reason to scope is to be able to define your responsibilities and the responsibilities of your team members, because the tasks of you, your team members, and the client are based on the project scope. Let’s call it the work scope. Remember that the work scope is not the same as the project scope and not the same for all. Partners will have different scopes for their particular work and tasks. The task of an architect is to design the thing and not to construct it. Construction it is for the contractor. Your task or assignment, being the manager, is also based on the project scope, but not the same. Maybe you are responsible for a successful conclusion at the end your task is managerial. You do not make the design, but you steer the process. You will not construct the thing but you will steer the tender process, steer the contract, see that the outcomes are checked, and build according to specifications.

Scoping is part of the initial phase of a project and often part of a feasibility study. A scope definition can be lean or extensive. If a family wants a house, maybe the budget defines the scope and the scope will become clear through first discussions with the architect. However, if your assignment is a theatre extensive work will be needed to define the project and the budget. Most of the time, not an easy and quick task because you will need a lot of information without knowing much of the future. Setting up a project can take years.

In the first week of our course, we will read a paper by Chung-Suk Cho (Cho et all 2001), Building Project Scope Definition using Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI). The paper discusses the PDRI model as a tool for an (extensive) scope definition. The index is divided into 3 sections, 11 categories, and 64 elements. The 3 sections are about project decision, project design, and the execution approach. Remarkable is that the scope index is much broader than a project brief you are maybe acquainted with and in which the focus is mostly about the project design, “the what”. The first and third sections of the PDRI are more about decision-making, the process, strategy, “the how and why”.

I would like to give an example.

Lately, I am asked to be the manager of a project in Amsterdam. The aim is to construct a primary school with 18 classrooms, a kinder garden, an underground parking place, five gyms that can be combined into one big sports hall, with a canteen and a tribune. The school’s playground is part of the project, the surrounding public space not. There is also the aim to build a park on the roof, maybe with public sports facilities.

Looking at “the what” the project is fairly clear. You can imagine the thing.

But looking at the “how” I stumbled on several questions using the PDRI as a guideline. I started with asking my questions to the client with the aim to get a better image of the how. It turned out that the client is not the only one. The client of the school is not the same as the client of the underground parking and the gyms. The future owner, the real estate department is not yet involved (PDRI category B). The first urban design sketches were made and it turned out that the kinder garden does not fit on the plot because it needs to be on the ground floor, like parts of the school and the gyms. I discovered that the budget of the school was set but not the budget of the whole thing, the gyms, and the parking. (PDRI section A). There is not yet a total budget and a clear division of costs derived from a budget (section C). Maybe the thing is more expensive because it is a combined building. There is no project organization set where all clients meet (section L). It is not clear who is overall responsible and many practical issues will need attention, like who holds the budget, who decide about architecture (section B), what is the wanted delivery year (section C), are there specific requirements, contingency in the budget, what to do when delays occur or what to do with budget overruns due to change orders (section K). These and other elements need to be defined before we can call the thing a project.

My conclusion is that the thing is not a project yet and my task cannot be the project manager. I proposed the client to meet with all other clients to start discussing the missing parts and use the next half year to sort things out to define it as a proper project. I call myself the manager of the scope and feasibility study with the aim to define the project. Maybe after all is clear I can be the manager of the project.

Geef een antwoord
Misschien ook interessant