In theory, the contractor and client have a common goal, and that is to complete the project successfully. But the meaning of”successfully” takes on a different interpretation depending on whether you are working with the contractor or with the client. Having worked with both contractors and clients, it enables me to see things from different perspectives from both sides.
As a contractor, the primary objective is to finish the project successfully with minimum cost and maximum profit. While I was with the contractors, I would not volunteer to give information to my client about the delay or the status outright especially if the delay was due to the contractor. However. when there were delays due to the client or third parties, I would make sure it would be documented and the client be notified within 14 days (depending on the provisions of contacts)about the delay. This would serve as evidence of delay for eventual claims for EOT.
As a contractor, one needs to know the project scope well as well as how to get it implemented. Do not do anything extra like “gold plating” for it will cost the company more money, for the client may come back and ask for even more”favor”. If it is not in the scope, the contractor will request a Variation Order, before he will proceed with the extra work.
Being a contractor needs to be very diplomatic when dealing with the client’s request. Typically, when the client makes a vebal request for extra work to be done, the contractor PM will not commit nor reject the request outright. Instead, he will say “Let me go back and think about it.”
As a contractor, one needs to control the sub-contractors and manage the client’s expectations. Do not over promise and under deliver!
Let me talk about being on the opposite side , i.e. the client side. The definition of project success is – complete on time with cost-saving against the budget. One needs to know the contract specifications and obligations of the contractor well. He needs to know what need to be done and when it should be completed. In my recent role as Project Manager, I paid close attention to the planning and site execution of work. A plan is not just a schedule! For a plan to be executable, there should be 5Ms.
- Method Statement
- Management Commitment
Being with contractors before, I knew I cannot totally trust the contractor to tell me everything. I requested the contractor to submit a rolling 2 months short-range detail programme where I will scrutinize together with the contractor, consultant team and my supervision team on the viability of the schedule and resources to be committed weekly. This ensures the contractor commits adequate resources on site to move the job. It is important to track the progress closely. These days with What Apps, it is very easy to share and keep the team updated on a regular basis. I used to send photo and emails to the senior management of both client and contractor when there were not enough resources to move the job. it proved to be somewhat effective as it prevented contractor’s site team from slacking and served as evidence of delays
Another vital role of client’s PM is to ensure that the project is being built and fit for purpose. Many times, the contract specification is vague, incorrect or missing. Client’s PM needs to coordinate with internal stakeholders to ensure that Variation Orders are issued timely.
Sometimes, when there are delays due to third parties such as authorities agencies, the client’s PM has to step in to front the agencies pro-actively. For delays due to third parties, the contractor will be too happy to tell you, the delays are not due to them and they should be entitled to EOT.
In conclusion, a project success depends on all parties: – the client, contractors and consultants. There is a need to have check and balance. Everybody plays a different role and there will always be different interpretations of project success.
About the Author:
Stanley Tey has more than two decades of project management experience after graduating from the National University of Singapore in Civil Engineering. He also obtained a Master Degree in Software Engineering from Institute of Systems Science, NUS where he specialized in Project Management and Systems Integration. He has worked as a Consulting Engineer, Project Planner, and Project Manager. Some of the projects he had handled are:
- North East Line
- Singapore 1st Desalination Water Plant at Tuas
- Integrated Resort Project at Sentosa
- Lonza Cell Therapy Plant at Tuas (Phase 2)
- Merck Junumet plant at Tuas
- Singapore Special Cable Tunnel Project