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PM Essence
 
A Reflection on the Project Management Principles for Construction Industry and IT Industry - A Case Study

Manjunatha, PMP
Project by definition in any field i.e. Construction or IT needs to have defined Start and end date. In my experience, when managing Construction and IT projects, there are some similarities and some differences. As a full-time IT professional, I got an opportunity to manage Project of constructing my own house. It's an excellent experience for me to manage the construction of two storied independent house along with the official responsibilities of managing IT Projects. The key challenge was to complete the construction within 12 months, with acceptable cost variance and good quality. By applying good Project Management Principles, I was able to complete this project successfully, meeting key challenges.
 
Let's look into the similarities and differences of managing construction and IT Projects by going through different phases of project.
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1. Initiating

a. Similarities:
I. Key decisions are to be made right at the beginning like selecting the Engineer, Architect, type of Contract etc. Similarly in IT Projects, key decisions include identifying stakeholders like Architects, Program Managers and Engineering Managers etc. 
 
ii. While identifying the Construction Engineer, we obtain multiple quotations and generally tempted to go with the least quotation. We don't study all the quotations in detail. In my experience, I did not go with the least quote as I enquired about the raw materials cost available in market and went with the quote which is in line with the market rates. Similarly in IT Projects, when we have the quotes from different vendors especially in MNCs having development activities spread across multiple locations, we need to use a more practical evaluation in deciding the best quote rather than go with the least quote.
 
2. Planning
 
a. Similarities:
I. Estimation needs to be as accurate as possible before execution else it would lead to a lot of delay and cost overrun during the execution and completion of the project.
 
ii. Spend sufficient time in planning. This will help to reduce the rework during execution, implementation and in completing the project on time. We had spent around 3 months on planning and had 6 different layout diagrams before we finalized the main one. Once finalized, created 3D View to have the reference for execution. Below is the 3D view example 
 
b. Differences:
I. In IT Projects, During Estimation of the project effort and cost normally we refer the past history of similar projects and take into account the buffer to have estimations. In case of Construction projects, this can be applicable only from schedule perspective but not for cost. We need to get the current market rates for the accurate cost estimation.
 
3. Execution
 
a. Similarities:
I. Quality comes with Cost. We always, need to have tradeoff between the Cost and Quality for Materials required for project. In construction the Major portion of budget goes in Steel, Granite, Wood and electrical items. In an IT Project, it is for License of Software's, Hardware's like Server, client etc. Above photos shows how the quality of the construction is carried out. We need to ensure that the good quality raw materials are procured at right time from right vendors. Also, the mason and his team should be well experienced in this type of project.
 
b. Differences:
I. When there is a rework at construction, it is very evident. It might be electrical wiring to be redone for UPS or working again on Tiles which were initially not  laid properly etc. Where as in the IT projects rework will not be so evident.
 
ii. Managing the team members in the construction project will be difficult as their maturity and behavior standards would vary from every individual as they are all from different background, where as in most of IT projects, people are matured and trained individuals and most importantly they are professionals at work place.
4. Monitoring & Control

a. Similarities
I. Always look for the Critical Path activities and give more importance to that. This is applicable in any type of project. Always give importance to the critical activity of the day.
 
ii. One of the main points to be noted in the Construction project, in particular for cost control, is to ensure that the Engineer we hire is well aware about the quality of raw materials available, its location and availability at reasonable cost otherwise, project will tend to have a high cost overshoot. This is one of the high Risk for the project.
 
In Case of IT projects, the knowledge about the product, domain by the Project Manager and the good architect will help in controlling the cost of the project.
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iii. Anticipate that there will always be risk of delay in raw material during execution of the project. For instance, there was delay in raw material availability  like Sand due to Strike from Sand suppliers Association. We had to use our buffers in terms of acceptable delays so that the strike will be withdrawn. It all depends  on your project priority and cost/schedule trade off
 
iv. Do expect there would be an increase in overall cost with respect to the planned at the end of the Construction project. This might be due to changes in the cost of raw materials or choosing a slightly higher cost material for better quality than originally planned. Similarly in IT Projects, Variation of cost could be due to large number of defects found during testing or late additional of scope which customer feels a must, not finding out the implicit requirements early.
 
b. Differences:
I. Cost spending from the beginning to the end of the project is different. In case of Construction, money spending will be very high towards end . Where as in IT, it  will be High during the execution and will come down during End.
 
ii. In construction project, we had a good Estimate with the defined quality .During execution; we tempted to do gold plating which leads to cost overshoot. Hence biweekly once, looked into the expenditure, status of completion with respect to cost, which gave lot of control on the cost. Normally in IT industry, the Cost will not play major role compare to schedule and quality during the execution unless it is a fixed cost project
 
5. Closing
 
a. Similarities
I. In Construction projects, the project completion is accompanied by the House warming celebration which is the tradition globally. Similarly in IT projects, we call it a release Celebration which is done by going for outing or having some gifts like T shirt, Bags with Project Names.
 
b. Differences:
I. In Construction projects, the End date of completion not only depends on the all planned work completion but also, on the good dates to carry out the House Warming as per calendar. In my case, the project could have been completed in 11 months; however we went slowly during completion as there were no good dates to have the House warming function.  In Case of IT Projects, There are no such dates we normally look for and depend on the need of the client.
 
To Summarize, project might be from different fields i.e. construction, IT project. What matters is, how efficiently and effectively the Project Management principles are inculcated in every step of the Project to excel finally.