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BUSINESS:  Project Management - Your Guide to a Successful Partnership


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The term Project Management (PM) refers to a sophisticated, high-level process and discipline that leads to the successful completion of specific goals and objectives. Whilst the description is quite specific the methodologies, processes and tools have evolved considerably over the years, shaping according to changing organisational goals and market conditions.

"Project ownership forms a critical part of today's successful PM and Management Contracting projects. As a PM organisation you have to be accountable for the project on various levels which includes costs - insuring best value -, the programme, daily management and the realisation of customer objectives," comments Dennis Heijink, Director, Projects GWS EMEA, Building Efficiency at Johnson Controls.

"In the past there was a strong focus on investment costs: now we look at the overall lifecycle of the project, focusing specifically on sustainability by ensuring the reduction in energy costs and the minimisation of a project's impact on the environment. There has been a clear shift to long-term goals and the project's impact over a period of years."

Heijink also comments that the IT tools used by PM organisations have evolved in their sophistication and allow for a myriad of benefits such as command and control of the project, transparency, communication and the ongoing delivery of information regardless of the project destination.

Adds Vusi Qwabe, Regional Director, Projects GWS Africa, Building Efficiency at Johnson Controls: " Our Sequentra project management tool, for example, provides a work interface which in essence offers both the client and our project manager immediate and visual access to a specific project, therefore up-to-date and transparent information at the push of a button."

If one considers the evolution of the PM market and its subsequent service offering what should companies consider when they start shopping around for a competent partner? Says Heijink: "Quite obviously cost and the solutioning are a major consideration, however, more importantly is the proposed Project Manager and project team and whether it is backed by a reputable, stable company. For example, insist on meeting and working with the Project Manager from the get-go. Is there a cultural fit - will you be able to work with the company on a daily basis?"

"Also, does the company in question have a proven track record and what processes and methodologies does it employ to realise successful projects. Today's foremost PM companies offer a global consistency with local delivery, therefore worldwide expertise backed by strong local knowledge and suppliers.

With this said, what lies at the core of a successful PM partnership and project? What do some of the most successful PM partnerships and strategies have in common?

"We believe trust is fundamental to any successful PM partnership. It is critical that parties make an effort to understand each other's expectations at the onset of a project. Communications is also another element and serves as the glue of any project. Regular status updates - through one point of contact - is key; where is the project, what are the expected timelines, what has been completed and so forth," explains Qwabe.

"Furthermore, the ability to successfully guide a project through challenges and solve these is a core aspect in any PM partnership. Ultimately, it is about understanding your client's business, its objectives and supporting it professionally and effectively, driving the success of the project forward."

If the above is in place, companies can rest assured that their PM partnership will take away the guesswork associated with projects, irrespective of their size and complexity. Their chosen partner will be backed by a wealth of experience, resources and real-world application gained through a rich experience of cross-industry projects.

"In-house project teams often don't have the resources or manpower to successfully rollout complex projects, particularly those that require a specialist skill-set. PM specialists, however, continually invest in improving their discipline through innovation, skills development and daily experience. Furthermore, you only pay for what you need whereas with an in-house team the resources are on your balance sheet, irrespective of the project status or workload," adds Heijink.

Lastly, does South Africa still have a lot to learn when it comes to PM and do we have the companies, locally, to realise successful partnerships? Qwabe believes the local market is increasingly outsourcing its PM functions, which is good news. "Unfortunately this has also lead to an influx of market players - some more skilled than others. Furthermore, often companies offer a complete package that includes project management. PM should always stand on its own in order to be successful".

"This said there are also companies such as Johnson Controls that offer specialist services, backed by global best practices and innovation that ultimately focus on the realisation of a lifecycle solution, underscored by sustainability and environmentally sound practices".

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