International best practices in project management are influencing the Middle East approach to the built environment, but the phrase ‘best practice’ is often misunderstood by both Middle East clients and international consultants serving those clients.
The upswing in GCC government capital programmes amidst a global recession has brought sharp focus to the need for governments, and semi-government organisations, to deliver better value for money to their citizens and customers, and for this ethos to cascade through their supply chains, including international PM consultants delivering a more effective and efficient service.
Whereas the previous cash rich environment allowed both partners, the local client and the international PM consultant, to be unfocused in selecting relevant ‘best practice’, the downturn in the global economic climate is now dismantling those outmoded attitudes. Lack of focus is now an expensive luxury which can be ill-afforded, from the client’s cost perspective and from the consultant’s business reputation perspective.
Larger portfolios with high budget and high volume programmes have the most urgent need to deliver best practice PM benefits. Governments and semi-government organisations are therefore driving this change. This is strategically important for organisations seeking to procure international contractors, who are familiar with best practice and otherwise may be prevented or dissuaded from joining the organisation’s list of approved contractors.
Cultural nuances are very important in this market. It can be hard to break through the longstanding reliance on old-school hierarchical civil service structures.
Government aspirations are often very high and there may be keenness on all sides to bring international best practice to the project. However the government division is not always entirely clear on what this entails, so there is often scope for education at all levels across the organisation. Cultural nuances are very important in this market. It can be hard to break through the longstanding reliance on old-school hierarchical civil service structures. Even where this change is considered desirable by the client, there can be an expectation gap between the client and the international PM consultant. In practice it can take time before new methods are understood, accepted and implemented.
Local legislation can complicate the built environment arena. For example, government procurement laws do not always lead to an evenly balanced and transparent contract and many contractors run into litigation from day one.
Government rules regarding the funding of projects can prevent the contract terms being improved, so the international PM consultant should not waste effort in this regard, where he has no influence and no chance of affecting a change.
We encourage an evolutionary approach with our clients for the successful introduction of ‘best practice’. Firstly we take time to properly understand the client, working with suspected expectation gaps such as the legislative example above, to ensure actual gaps are identified and closed early in the service, in order to provide real improvement in the client’s PM practice.
Having taken appropriate care and due diligence to identify and close expectation gaps, we then work with the client to define a series of achievable improvement steps and quick wins. Quick wins provide confidence in the service and to deliver early, tangible benefits from PM process improvement. A quick win can be attained in any area of PM, ranging from a value management initiative linked to the CEO’s office to a safety initiative rolled out across construction sites.
A properly empowered international project manager has learned where change can be most effectively applied and which cultural sensitivities cannot be easily altered.
PM skills must therefore be adapted to suit local conditions, while targeting the client’s project goals. A properly empowered international project manager has learned where change can be most effectively applied and which cultural sensitivities cannot be easily altered. In the Middle East market, corporate/government hierarchies are a significant barrier to communication and timely action and this needs sensitive management to achieve buy-in by everyone involved.
Faithful+Gould has provided PM services in the Middle East since 2005. Our combination of global PM experience and local market-specific knowledge enables our clients to apply a lean and effective approach to a wide variety of projects.
Clients are increasingly engaging with our Project Management Office (PMO) service. We are currently working with Kuwait’s Ministry of Public Works, to undertake a review of its existing organisation and the methods used to manage its projects which will oversee its multi-billion dollar infrastructure development programme. Saudi Arabia’s National Water Company is another recent example, where we provided a programme and project management framework to facilitate timely completion of projects, appropriate utilisation of financial resources and delivery of business benefits to NWC.
Related news & features
Please contact us to be put in touch with expert on this subject.
No related events found
Please contact us for information on our many upcoming events.