The case study investigated the project management techniques in a construction company focusing on BRJ & Associates LLC. The characteristics depicted by BRJ & Associates LLC are reflected in what construction entails and the need for any construction company to develop management devices. Preliminary information from this study reveals construction as having multiple variables that exist within an exceptionally dynamic and changing environment, something that makes management become a complex idea. From the study, secondary data obtained from the statement of qualifications and the company’s websites reveal that BRJ & Associates involves in multiple services, including planning, program management, project management, and finally, the management of construction. As a result, BRJ & Associates has adopted the progress review and reporting, design milestone document reviews, independent cost analysis, management of agency review and approval, value engineering, and constructability and bid-ability review as some of these tools and techniques to manage the projects they pursue their clients from the conception stage to the stage when the projects are completed with the intended resources and handed over to the clients.
Background Information of the Study
Construction involves multiple variables that are developed in a particular dynamic and changing environment making the management complex. However, constriction companies worldwide continue to improvise the sites amidst a lack of formal planning and failure to comply with the deadline (East 2015, p.23). The planning and control deficiencies cause low productivity in the construction sector leading to high losses and low-quality products. The United States construction industry is one of the leading globally, with annual expenditures of more than $1,231 billion in reference to U.S Census Bureau News (Demirkesen & Ozorhon, 2019, p.1643). The U.S Bureau of Statistics divides construction into five labor categories, including new work, maintenance and repairs, alterations, and additions. The construction industry is demanding, and thus the need for construction managers to plan projects down to the smallest detail while controlling work equity and control.
A project comprises a group of interrelated activities and is constrained by a specific scope, schedule, and budget for achieving strategic organizational goals (Clough et al., 2017, p.5). This means that a project is a system that is dynamic and ever-changing from one stage to another in a life cycle. For a generic project, the status changes from an idea or a concept through various stages of feasibility studies, execution, and completion. Additionally, the current projects are more complicated than before, involving large amounts of capital investments. Today’s projects also embrace several disciplines, many dispersed participants, tighter schedules, and quality standards that are stringent (Heigermoser et al. 2019, p.249). Therefore, in a constriction setup, the successful completion of a project involves effective project management (Sears et al., 2017, p.32). The management of construction projects requires modern managerial knowledge and an understanding of the design and construction processes (Ritz 2014, p.34). Thus, the aspect of management is equally important in the whole process and procedures of the project. Sørensen et al. (2016, p.438) presented project management as the process through which all the project’s activities are planned, scheduled, and controlled to achieve its aims and objectives. The primary function of project management is to achieve success in the construction project implementation process (Clough et al., 2017, p.16). According to The Construction Management Association of America, there is an average of 120 responsibilities in construction project management (Nitithamyong & Skibniewski, 2019, p.465). This means that project managers have to be strategic and thoughtful about working in an environment affected by constant changes.
However, it is no easy feat for a construction company to deliver a quality project to the client on time and within the budget while targeting a profit. For it to happen, Sørensen et al. (2016, p.438) argued that it requires that a company adopt the appropriate and effective project management techniques. Appropriate techniques facilitate the success strategies for any construction project to allow them to be implemented through cost, time, quality, and material management (Bosch-Sijtsema and Gluch 2019, p.7). Thus, through these techniques, the process of project management considers careful planning, detailed monitoring of the progress, and communication and collaboration among the team members and other stakeholders. Contractors and suppliers have to remain within the schedule and the budget to utilize techniques, strategies, and tools to manage their multifaceted work to meet the responsibility.
The adoption of project management techniques has helped change how to tackle different projects by the project managers. These techniques and tools are necessarily significant to ensure that project’s activities are accomplished without spending more and more of the revenue and manpower (Barnes 2018, p.71). Multiple techniques are applied in different areas of construction depending on the organizational culture and the objectives of the project to facilitate the creation of an efficient strategy and help deliver a top-notch project. There are several of these project management techniques that construction companies use, and the adoption of a specific technique is essential for finishing a project more easily (East 2015, p.43). The decision for choosing a particular technique is based on the project specifics that the brief contains, the nature and qualification of the teams that are involved, and the complexity level of the projects.
In the construction industry, the essential phase is the beginning of a project, and the ultimate success lies in how work is divided and set up the processes. It is at the beginning where there are multiple variables and needs procedures through project management techniques (Woodward, 2017, p.45). In recent years, several project management techniques have been adopted and used to ensure that every project can be delivered smoothly and within the provided period. This is because the project management techniques allow the organization of all the moving parts of the project into a logical set of tasks, and nothing is left to chance (Bosch-Sijtsema and Gluch 2019, p.10). Therefore, construction companies largely rely on using project management techniques in running their projects from inception to completion. For any construction company to use particular techniques and tools, the organization focuses on completing the project within the provided schedule, budget, and time regarding the owners’ expectations. It is based on this that the current paper examines the project management techniques that are used by BRJ & Associates in conducting its activities that are related to construction projects.
BRJ & Associates is a professional consulting firm specializing in the provision of services of owner-agency in various areas. The areas the company deals with including planning, program management, project management, and construction management. The company is located in Azusa, California, United States, and operates in the sector of business services. The company has 16 employees working across its locations, and its re revenue is at $4.54 million in sales. The team working for BRJ & Associates understands all the pieces of construction, including the complexities and connections.
The company’s team has gained experience in all the aspects of project development which include strategic and operational master planning at the earliest stages up to facilitation of master planning. The team is also involved in the reporting boards of governing and oversight. It is through the appropriate project management that the team ensures that there are effective interactions with all the phases of construction projects. The team of BRJ & Associates uses various techniques to reliably focus on every level of the project management in order to reach the goals of the client through budget control, scopes, schedules, and work quality. The fact that the company is involved in both large multi-project programs exceeding $800 million and smaller projects below $50,000 means that it needs to adopt strategic processes that involve project management techniques.
Purpose/Aims of the Study
This case study focuses on BRJ & Associates as a construction company operating in the American market. Construction companies are involved in many processes that range from the planning of the project to completion. Therefore, these companies require the proper management of the projects by adopting various techniques deemed appropriate to assist project managers (Bosch-Sijtsema & Gluch, 2019). Adopting new innovations such as superior project management techniques gives an edge to one company over the competitors, especially in a highly competitive industry like construction. As a result, American has seen significant development of a number of new project management techniques in the past years (Pilcher, 2012). This has been seen as an improvement since the American construction industry only utilized the Gantt chart almost exclusively in managing its projects in the past years. The use of this bar-chart schedule gave managers a rough composite of systems as the management provided with the overall view of the project, which proved to be a suboptimization process.
As one of the companies that operate in the Business Services sector industry, BRJ & Associates provides multiple professional services to clients. These services allow the management of planning, design, construction, and operations of the facilities for business purposes. Therefore, in order to help the client structure and control the process towards the achievement of the expected goals, BRJ & Associates has adopted multiple project management techniques. The purpose of this case study is to examine the project management techniques in a construction company with reference to BRJ & Associates. The study identified the various techniques that BRJ & Associates uses in planning, program management, project management, and construction management as its significant services offered. The study established the extent to which these techniques are used and accepted in the company and their increased adoption over time, especially in recent years.
Objectives of the study
- To identify the construction project management techniques employed by BRJ & Associates in the provision of services to its clients
- To establish the extent of use of the project management techniques adopted in the BRJ & Associates and distribution of their adoption over the recent past in the construction
- To establish the acceptance level of these modern project management techniques in reference to their effectiveness when applied.
Intended Outcomes and Intended Research Approach
The study examined the techniques used in the management of projects in construction sectors with the reference of the BRJ & Associates. From the nature of the study, the intended research approach adopted was qualitative that considered the case study as a strategy. The case study approach was intended a research strategy because the study was to include a wide scope that ranged from evolution, planning, and the projects management techniques and methods applied in BRJ & Associates as a subject company. The approach was considered appropriate in the sense that it would critically analyze and evaluate the techniques used in the subject company relative to other construction companies in the United States. The intended outcomes was to be able to identify the measures out in place by BRJ & Associates through its construction services to ensure that projects are managed. It was expected that the company utilizes some of the common techniques that include Gantt, the line of balance technique, PERT, and CPM. However, though the outcomes were not expected to direct use of these techniques by the company, it was expected that the company applies some of these methods indirectly in arranging and implementing its activities. The techniques were expected to be applicable in areas of strategic planning, operational planning, budget development, cost control, and architect or consultant selection.
The structure and outline of this dissertation are in accordance with the IBAM guidelines to facilitate the meeting of the objectives defined in this study. There are five chapters of the dissertation, including the introduction, literature review, methodology, results/data analysis, and conclusion and recommendation. The first step of the paper is the introduction which marks the beginning and helped to delineate the rationale for the study and the objectives while familiarizing the reader with the context of the study. This chapter investigated the background information on the techniques of project management as applied in the construction industry, critically evaluated the subject company, BRJ & Associates, and explained why the focus of the study. The paper proceeds to the second chapter that presents the arguments and counter-arguments presented in the literature review about the techniques. Under this chapter, the paper is more of doing a critical review of the debates around the project management techniques in construction companies encompassing the forms and the roles in the completion of the project. Some of the areas of focus in the second chapter include critically analyzing the broad idea of business management, the life-cycle, examine some techniques already documented, such as Gantt, CPM, and PERT, among others.
The paper proceeded to the third chapter that included the methodology that allows the discussion on the approached used in finding information on the study. The chapter was able to justify the design strategy and elaborate on critical issues in relation to the data collection methods, validity, and reliability of the data used and their implication to the study. A significant part of this chapter was able to illustrate the use of a case study as an approach used in the research on the paper’s topic. After the methodology, the most significant and lengthy chapter four followed and paid attention to the analysis of data with the inclusion of comparative aspects through harnessing various inferential techniques to interpret and present data collected to help in drawing conclusions and recommendations. This chapter is considered critical because it carries the heart of the study as it revealed the techniques BRJ & Associates has adopted in conducting its businesses and operations. The paper turned to the final chapter, which includes the conclusions and recommendations where the outcomes analyzed are assessed in reference to the literature and against the objectives to draw a suitable conclusion.
The study involves conducting a comprehensive literature review in construction on project management and the applicable techniques. The review of the literature in this chapter provides the various aspects related to what was undertaken. The relevant literature is significant in any research project since it facilitates identifying relevant themes of the study, avoiding replication, inconsistencies discovery, and defining the action of the areas of research. Thus, the reviewed literature included journals that are peer-reviewed and other relevant sources, which include research-oriented websites. The themes emerging from the review presented multiple aspects of project management and the involved techniques.
Construction Project Management
Chitkara (1998, p.21) defined project management as the art and science that involves the mobilization and management of people, materials, equipment, and money to complete the assigned project work on time and within the budgeted costs as well as the specified technical performance standards. This means that the management of the project has the aim to efficiently achieve the objectives that are specified for a particular work through the management of human energies and optimizing the non-human resources placed at their disposal. In comparison, Bhavesh (2000, p.7) extended the definition of what project management means, relating it to a process that facilitates the planning, scheduling, and controlling of all the project activities in order to achieve the aims and objectives.
The project management creative concept is universal and generic, where the project managers introduce the discipline of project management and tend to improve the performance of the existing project. Chitkara (1998, p.24) critically analyzed the major function of project management, which involves achieving the success of the construction project implementation process. This requires the efficient management of projects in the construction industry that plays a crucial role. In their investigations, Lyneis et al. (2001, p.239) critically evaluated the need for modern managerial knowledge and understanding of the design and construction processes in the management of construction projects. Since the construction projects specify the sets of aims, objectives, and constraints, project management ensures the project’s guiding from the beginning along with its performance to the closure. Shamp (2017, p.23), in their study, revealed that modern managerial knowledge is required in the management of road construction projects, including the understanding of the design and construction processes.
The study by Shamp (2017, p.13) critically analyzed construction as the foundation of America and as an integral part of U.S society. The researchers in this study by Shamp have identified California as among the U.S states, including Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi, as those with construction managers having completed an extensive part of the construction business of over $3.5 billion. Park and Peña‐Mora (2018, p.216) reported that the project managers in these states have continued to apply effective cost management amidst an increase in the construction of the new buildings in the recent past. However, the challenge of construction planning continues to face all levels of construction projects following the U.S population growth.
In the critical review of the literature, a significant number of earlier researchers found that the current practices of project management are isolated and more concerned with majorly managing the problems which are related to the projects’ individual stages. Among them is Potts (2007, p.7), whose critical evaluation found that if the project management lacks standard processes, it signifies the weakness of the traditional management manner. This is because the management of the projects is based on the experience that the project managers have since they have a specific assignment to the task. However, while supporting this position, Peterson (2013, p.45) argued that it happens every project manager would want to follow their own experience developed over a long period even if they belong to the same organization. Magalhães et al. (2017) critically observed that the different approaches are taken by these project managers often lead to variations in the management is practiced creating a significant impact on the capability of coordinating and controlling project information.
Syahirah et al. (2010, p.34), in their critical review, required the generation and updating of certain documents throughout the project if the construction management best practices are to be achieved. This often requests for the information, request for proposal, budget, schedule, and estimates. Sutrisna and Abbott (2012, p.67) critically evaluated the adoption of electronic communication and storage within the construction industry as a way of helping to achieve project management best practices. Shamp (2017, p.31) observed that the development of these technologies had been fueled by the declining costs of end-user computing and network communication.
The industry has embraced diversification into areas consisting of the special expertise to deliver the end product following the new project delivery standards and regulatory restrictions. Oberlender (2014, p.56) argued that these new changes have come up because of the increased complexity of the projects with shorter schedules due to more dramatic building forms. Hogan (2015, p.68) critically evaluated the case, arguing that it requires communication, coordination, and collaboration between various parties to the construction project to facilitate their working. Zeynalian et al. (2013, p.57) strongly held that construction personnel often use construction scheduling techniques that generate schedules that cause undesirable fluctuations in the resources hence becoming inefficient and costly to implement on the construction site. Oberlender (2014, p86), however, presented a different version of an argument that future project outcomes can be predicted based on the actual performance by scheduling forecasting. This calls upon the need to focus on the individual professional capabilities of an organization to facilitate the working of the construction teams towards objectives that are individually defined. Indeed, Elmabrouk and Aljiebali (2012) passionately associated the poor performance in delivering the project within the construction industry with the inability of the participants in the project to work collaboratively together.
Therefore, Chen et al. (2009), in their critical investigation, found out that the fundamental issues of the construction project management are the delays. Abdul-Rahman et al. (2011) added to this aspect, arguing that delay has become a significant and severe problem that project managers face in the construction industry and significantly impacts the process of completion of construction projects. Abdul-Rahman et al. (2011) observed that while the delay is significant in the construction project, it occurs at different stages, and researchers have identified that any late project causes the underlying problems. Some of these problems include the overrun of the budget and the reduction of the specifications in relation to the project concepts. From the critical argument presented by Cooke-Davies and Arzymanow (2003, p.23), multiple risks fall in the categories of time, cost, and quality-related factors, which lead to delays in the projects. This, therefore, creates a gap in the management of the project and requires examining the suitable techniques that would help tackle the problems that occur in the construction project management.
Multiple elements have been documented in the literature as the key contributors towards effective construction project management. Levy (2018, p.31) critically analyzed among these aspects careful planning, detailed progress monitoring, communication, and collaboration among the various team members. Oh (1999, p.49) further revealed that the facilitation of these elements requires that the techniques are applied to help achieve the project goals. The planning needs to be detailed and strategic and often seen as most important if construction project management has to be successful. While supporting this position, Ahuja et al. (2014, p.41) maintained that if the project is complex, more planning will also be required with the aim of maximizing efficiency, especially if the project is well-planned. Lyneis et al. (2001) critically evaluated the planning process as the need to develop deliverables, including the definition of goals and establishing the milestones of the project, which will require that the techniques are applied. The monitoring of the progress and making of the adjustments is a significant aspect considering the need to have all things progress as planned. Communication and collaboration were identified by Ahuja et al. (2014, p.43) as key in the managing of the project to help limit the chances of incurring delays and overruns.
Project Management Life Cycle
The duration of every project in the construction process is determined with the definite time when it begins and the identifiable end. According to the description by Magalhães et al. (2017, p.47), when the client conceives, the idea marks the beginning, and the point when the project is accomplished marks its end. Chitkara (1998, p.14) provided a critical definition of the project life cycle in reference to the Project Management Institute as the progression of any project steadily from the beginning to the completion. It is the time span of the project from when it starts to the time it is completed that represents the project life cycle ranging from months to years. Mazlum and Güneri (2015) found the life span of a project to follow a similar pattern such that the conception marks are starting, followed by the gradual build-up in the use of resources, then a long-duration plateau and towards the end where there is a rapid run-down to the completion.
Westland (2017, p.43) critically evaluated the typical construction project dividing it into various stages that include the formulation stage composed of the conception of the project idea, feasibility studies, investment appraisal, and definition of the project. The second stage is the mobilization that allows the preparation of the preliminary plan of the project, drawings and designs, contract finalization and specifications, and resource mobilization. The third final stage is the construction that entails the planning and controlling the execution of the project, resources induction, construction and commissioning, and final handing over of the project to the client for use. Chitkara (1998), on their part, critically analyzed various actors to the project life different from the initial findings, which include the owners of the project who first conceptualize the idea, the architect-engineer, constructors, general contractors, and other subcontractors.
Project Management Techniques
The literature review has identified multiple techniques that are used in construction project management. However, from the critical analysis by Sievert (2011, p.74), there is no enough evidence to show the methods applied by the pre-modern era in marshaling the resources required to accomplish their projects. This is despite the fact that construction was an essential element of the various civilizations of pre-modern times. According to Bell (2013, p.28), the technology used in pre-modern construction was based on trial and error, artistry, intuition, and the gross synthesis of experience, though unsupported by science. As a profession, engineering was based on the practical application of science dates from the period.
Years later, the scientific principles began to apply to the actual performance of work rather than to the design of the physical end product. Ahuja et al. (2014, p.32) argued that before this period, the process of suboptimization was used in job planning and supervision within the construction industry. This marked the introduction of the techniques used in managing the construction projects of the period. Oh (1999), Sievert (2011), Akintoye and MacLeod (2007), and Chou and Yang (2012) are among the researchers who critically analyzed the early period techniques, including the Gantt chart, balance line, and precedence network. However, Zeynalian et al. (2013) found that the advancement of information technology has seen new techniques emerge included the 4D models, work breakdown structure (WBS), program evaluation and review technique (PERT), critical path method (CPM), and Kanban.
According to Chou and Yang (2012, p. 53), the Gantt chart is considered amongst the visual project management techniques established in 1917 by Henry Lawrence Gantt, who was an associate of Taylor. From these authors, the introduction of this technique brought about the Graphical Daily Balance in Manufacture as the management tool that was later used overall by the construction manager. Shamp (2017, p.65) argued this technique was made the centerpiece of discussions of project planning, progress monitoring, and scheduling among the construction management texts. Thus, though it is among the many visual management techniques available to date, Oh (1999, p.18) critically analyzed the Gantt chart as one which has more applications for a project manager and having enough importance to warrant an illustration. A sample of a Gantt chart is shown below in figure 1:
Through making the Gantt chart is a technique, it can be easier to execute if combined with a Gantt chart tool. When using, Akintoye and MacLeod (2007, p.28) argued that the Gantt allows planning where the project is broken down into work elements and schedule. Additionally, the score of each element and assigning a specific time is determined, and all tasks are performed simultaneously. However, upon examination, Chou and Yang (2012, p.43) maintained their position that Gantt charts are more helpful beyond planning and scheduling tasks when used in multiple projects. Therefore, as Shamp (2017, p.65) presented in their conclusion, project managers may use these charts to plan and schedule entire projects, plan in sprints and milestones. Similarly, the teams’ work can be scheduled and compare the planned from what is in the actual timelines of the project.
From the findings by Woodward (2017, p.89), the construction of the Gantt chart entails the aid with a preparation of a simple tabular with a large amount of calculation not directly represented on the charts and graphs despite being necessary for constructing a schedule. However, Bell (2013, p.36) substantially recommended that the Gantt chart be backed up with separate equipment, materials, and financial schedules, personnel employment, and cumulative percentage schedules on critical elements. The study by Zeynalian et al. (2013, p.54) recently evaluated the use of an online Gantt chart in the ProjectManager, which allows the freedom to adjust schedules needed and tend to link the dependent tasks. The dependencies of tasks are used when some tasks cannot start until the preceding one is complete. Zeynalian et al. (2013, p.54) found the linking on ProjectManager prevents blocking of team members or downtime.
The advanced technology allows each task to be assigned to individual team members and project managers for possible automation of notifications on upcoming deadlines to keep the project on track. Ahuja et al. (2014, p.27) critically analyzed that despite being an overall project management technique, the Gantt chart has shown some weaknesses. The Gantt chart fails to show the interrelated dependencies among the activities that are connected with the various classifications of work. In addition, Ahuja et al. (2014, p.27) concluded that the chart could not point to the critical activities to work completed based on the schedule. However, Mubarak (2015, p.48) maintained that despite these weaknesses, the Gantt chart remained a universally popular technique most applied in the construction industry. This is because of its basic simplicity and the easiness of understanding it.
Balance Line Technique
Yamin and Harmelink (2001, p.376) critically analyzed the Line of Balance in which they defined it as a technique of production control that was developed to monitor the processes of manufacturing. The conceiving of the balance line was originally to eliminate bottlenecks in the production of ordnance equipment. However, Bell (2013, p.14) argued that the adaptation of the line of balance for use in construction requires a large number of identical end products for the individuals to work elements for each product. These elements must be repeated severally when the overall project is to be accomplished. Potts (2007, p.54), in their critical study of project management, found this technique as the most recommended for use in project works that involve repetitive activities. Some examples of these projects include the private sector, townhouses, high-rise building construction, and single-family dwellings. A sample of the line of balance technique is shown in figure 2 below:
Limmer (1997) critically evaluated the balance line technique in which they found it to consist in tracing called the Cartesian axis lines, which represent an activity and the respective time. According to Soini et al. (2004, p.13), the time and the ordinate are on the horizontal axis mark showing the cumulative progress of the planned values for each unit assembly. The technique is used for technical application, making it necessary to know the number of services to be performed and the teams’ productivity. Mendes (1999, p.69) evidently maintained that this information is necessary for scaling the enforcement teams and when it comes to the analysis of the interference between the activities of the simulation and balancing. This is allowed by the simulation of the production lines of the process to perform all activities continuously. Unfortunately, Levy (2018, p.46) evaluated the balance line technique through which they found out that it is not applicable to the large percentage of construction projects that are built especially based on a unique design with substantial task repetition.
The utilization of a graphical presentation is among the principal advances associated with this technique. According to Limmer (1997, p.87), the graphical presentation allowed the portrayal of the interdependencies of the various work elements in the construction of a single end product. The portrayal was alongside the time required by each element. The lead-time chart or the program is the device used in portraying these relationships. Levy (2018) described the line of balance identifying two additional graphical presentations as necessary in developing the technique as a working tool. Simmons (2002, p.1788) substantially found the objective curve as the first graphical representation that involves a simple plot of the end products on the axis against the other.
Lyneis et al. (2001, p.247) described the balance line as a stepped-down line graph that is overlaid across the program progress chart. This chart shows the number of elements for each work element that should have been completed by the time of measurement if the project is to be on schedule as indicated on the object curve. From the critical description by Simmons (2002, p.1789), the balance line technique utilizes data from the lead-time chart since it is projected from the objective curve to the program progress chart. Bell (2013, p.128) considered the technique as a powerful tool in the hands of the project manager since it shows exactly how things stand against the schedule of the project in relation to the work element. The project manager is now able to use the technique to allocate the resources to maintain the project on schedule before the problems get out of hand.
Project Evaluation Review Technique (PERT)
Mazlum and Güneri (2015, p.453) critically analyzed PERT defining it as a project management technique that is used to identify the time taken to finish a particular activity or task of a project. Simmons (2002, p.1788), in addition, revealed that the technique was developed in the 1950s by the U.S. Navy to allow the management of the Polaris submarine missile program of their Special Projects Office. As a system, PERT helps in the scheduling and coordination of all tasks in the entire project. According to Mazlum and Güneri (2015, p.454), the technique manages probabilities by the use of many simple statistical methods. It ensures that the tasks are broken down into detailed activities with the aid of the work breakdown structure. The tasks or activities broken down are then added to a Gantt chart to identify the interdependent ones.
Pilcher (2012, p.14) evidently argued that the data is used in the creation of an illustrative map of the network of activities and their interdependencies. Thus, the estimation of the duration of the project is based on the analysis of task sequences. Simmons (2002, p.1791) critically analyzed the importance of PERT as being useful in planning projects with the duration of uncertain activities. Often, Pilcher (2012, p.14) made a critical discovery arguing that project managers tend to use this technique to create realistic schedules by coordinating activities and estimation of their duration by assigning three estimates for each. Bishnoi (2018) critically evaluated the role of PERT in project management, which includes the simplification of the projects that are deemed complex. The project managers estimate the time one needs to schedule the project and the required resources. An illustration of PERT is shown in figure 3 below.
Critical Path Method (CPM)
In their critical evaluation, Simmons (2002, p.1787) found that the CPM technique was developed in 1957 by E. I Dupont Neymours with deterministic characters. The CPM technique, according to Yamin and Harmelink (2001, p.376), is considered the cornerstone of the project management techniques. It requires the construction of a project model, which includes a list of all tasks, the duration for the completion of each task, the dependencies linked to the tasks, and the endpoints, including the milestones and deliverables for the project. East (2015, p.37) critically observed that the provided information allows one to calculate the longest path from the planned tasks to the completion, which includes the earliest and latest time the tasks can start and finish without the impact on the schedule of the project. The prior study by Charvat (2003, p.23) focused on making it known about those tasks that are critical to the project and which have a float or can be delayed even without lengthening of the timeline of the project. An illustration of CPM is shown in figure 4 below, where the boxes and arrows depict the project network.
Yamin and Harmelink (2001, p.378) substantially described CPM as a sequence of tasks that adds up to the longest overall duration indicating whether there is a float or not. The information can help the project manager and the entire team to figure out the shortest time that is needed in completing the project. According to East (2015, p.39), at the heart of the CPM is the construction that is presented graphically or within a computer for a network of the interrelated dependencies of the project work elements. Lu and Li (2003, p.415) argued that all project management tools do not automatically filter the critical path but instead require one to do the calculations. The critical path is found by ProjectManager after the click on the Gantt view to allow the saving of valuable time. Yamin and Harmelink (2001, p.378) maintained that the baseline is set on the Gantt after planning the schedule to compare actual progress against the planned effort to allow the stay on track.
Yamin and Harmelink (2001, p.377) significantly linked the CPM with the rest of other techniques that begin with the planning of work as the first step. This stage of CPM involves the breaking of the job into manageable work elements. The next stage is estimating the duration for a very element that requires the analysis of the work elements to be the best to facilitate the crew sizes to be determined, including the number of hours or the days the crew is expected to work. According to East (2015, p.43), in construction project dealings, there is usually a lack of significant amount of uncertainty that is inherent in research projects. Instead, the average construction project lacks multiple variables for years. At the same time, a tremendous amount of knowledge has been accumulated to design, manufacture, assemble, and cost. Bell (2013, p.78) substantially found out that the CPM used deterministic estimates with the expected value that is estimated to be directly from the past experience. Therefore, this technique is almost exclusively considered as the network technique which is used on the projects of construction.
According to the analysis by Yamin and Harmelink (2001, p.376), the work elements are assigned with the estimates for each of them to facilitate the finding of the longest path through the interdependency network. This path can be found upon adding the estimates for every element in each parallel tract from the beginning of the project till the end. Ahuja et al. (2014) found those elements in the longest path to be called the critical path since the overall completion date of the project is fixed by their aggregate. If any of these critical elements of work undergo the identical change within the overall completion time for the project, then the change in the time is required. Levy (2018), however, indicated that there is leeway when examining the performance of the elements out of the critical path. It is only through completing the preceding tasks before setting the earliest start time for the identified elements. At the same time, the setting of the latest start time happens by counting back from the completion date of the project that was established by the critical path.
Yamin and Harmelink (2001) describe float as the leeway existing between the earliest and latest times. An arrow is utilized by the interdependency diagram used typically with CPM to depict each of the work elements. The double slash (//) is used to mark the critical path with the earliest date at every point, typically shown in a circle on the diagram while the latest appears in a square. The arrow is used to show the duration taken at each work element and sometimes shown below the arrow. The project manager can then proceed towards scheduling the work once they are armed with the required information. The established start dates of each element are fixed on the calendar and fixed the start dates for other work elements to give the best resource utilization between the projects and the current one based on the scheduler. Simmons (2002, p.1786) observes that the project manager can utilize a CPM network to tell immediately whether the delays happening in multiple elements of work have an adverse effect on the completion of the project or whether they are absorbed in float.
Thus, Bishnoi (2018) critically evaluated the CPM as an algorithm that helps make the decision. This is achieved through specific data, including the start time, duration, and finish, to determine the activities that are most important for the success of the project. Levy (2018), on their part, made crucial findings that CPM is effective when it comes to dealing with contingencies through the fast-tracking process. It allows multiple tasks to be run on the critical path in parallel to reduce the time for the project. Thus, overall, Yin (2015) evaluated the CPM as significant in reducing the delays through optimizing the work along the critical path. It contributes towards the improvement of the organization by breaking down the deliverables into sequences.
The adoption of linear programming techniques among the contractors was projected by the Engineering News-Record. Bell (2013, p.64) described this as an extension of the CPM to assist the best ways that would be used to allocate equipment and materials among the available workers of the concurrent projects in a manner deemed profitable. Simmons (2002, p.1787) defined the technique as precisely proportional programming that applies certain mathematical techniques to get the best solution to a problem that involves limited resources. Both CPM and PERT are usually mentioned when speaking about construction management regarding problems assignment and transportation. Figure 4 show compares and contrasts CPM and PERT as they are used in the project management process.
Project Management Techniques in the United States Context
From the historical analysis, Loosemore et al. (2003, p.47) critically evaluated the use of project management techniques by various agencies in the U.S. According to Collyer and Warren (2009, p.357), Navy Department developed the Line of Balance technique because of the need for a thorough, systematized approach to managing projects. However, Hajdu (2016, p.35) maintained that even the development of the Line of Balance technique did not prove sufficient since it applied highly repetitive forms of construction, including housing tracts and high-rise buildings. This led to developing the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) and the Critical Path Method (CFM) to assist in managing the projects. In relation to the findings by Loosemore et al. (2003, p.47), the development of the techniques occurred almost at the same time. The Navy and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) together quickly undertook the adapted these techniques for construction.
The techniques bring into visibility the interrelationships of the various project elements. The assigning of the estimate on each element allows the identification of the elements that are most critical upon which the earliest completion of the work is dependent. The construction of the elements can be manually or for more complex projects, use the electronic computer (Bosch-Sijtsema & Gluch, 2019). The proper updating allows them to give the contractor a complete picture of the moment of the project status. The introduction of the cost information into the network allows the prediction of the cash flow with a high degree of accuracy, which stands out as a distinct advantage in the planning for financing of materials and labor. Research disciplines have facilitated the contribution of the methods of project management that construction managers can use (Bosch-Sijtsema & Gluch, 2019). The techniques are especially applicable for limited resources assignment to numerous simultaneous tasks, waiting for the time for service operations, and inventory management.
In recent years, Giao and Trang (2020, p.59) analyzed the American construction industry in which it was found that it has embraced adopting the critical path method (CPM) to lead to a rapid transition towards achieving modern project management. This follows the prediction by the prestigious weekly construction industry magazine about abandoning the traditional bar (Gantt) chart. This provided the basis of the requisite condition for the American construction industry to apply modern methods for the management of the project (Bosch-Sijtsema & Gluch, 2019). The publishing of the CPM manual by the Associated General Contractors of America, which is the primary national organization of the construction industry, has standardized network analysis techniques with the industry. The U.S construction contract administration officials and the industry and government agency officials have been expecting rapid universal acceptance of the new project management techniques.
Chapter two was a presentation of the literature review on the techniques used in project management by construction companies. The chapter first examined the concept of project management through various definitions by Chitkara (1998, p.21) and Bhavesh (2000, p.7) in which it is related to art and science that involves the mobilization and management of people, materials, equipment, and money towards the completion of the assigned project work. The project management ensures that activities are accomplished on time and within the budgeted costs as well as the specified technical performance standards. Thus, as critically analyzed by Bhavesh (2000, p.7), the concept entails planning, scheduling, and controlling all the project activities in order to achieve the aims and objectives.
Besides the project management concept, the chapter examined the life cycle of a project through which the critical evaluation of Magalhães et al. (2017, p.47) and Westland (2017, p.43) identified various stages that include the formulation stage composed of the conception of the project idea, feasibility studies, investment appraisal, and definition of the project. Further stages include mobilization that allows the preparation of the preliminary plan of the project, drawings and designs, contract finalization and specifications, and resource mobilization. Finally, the construction entails the planning and controlling the execution of the project, resources induction, construction and commissioning, and final handing over of the project to the client for use. The chapter significantly identifies and discusses multiple project management techniques as analyzed by Sievert (2011, p.74), Chou and Yang (2012, p. 53), Shamp (2017, p.65), and other researchers. The significant techniques include the Gantt chart that is considered amongst the visual project management techniques established in 1917 by Henry Lawrence Gantt. The Line of Balance is a technique of production control and PERT that is used to identify the time taken to finish a particular activity or task of a project. The final technique examined is CPM that highlights a list of all tasks, the duration for completing each task, the dependencies linked to the tasks, and the endpoints, including the milestones and deliverables for the project.
The purpose of this study was to outline the project management techniques that are used in the construction company with the focus on BRJ & Associates as the construction company in California. The achievement of the research objectives requires a methodology that is rigorously designed so that far-reaching, accurate conclusions are drawn. Thus, the research methodology part is crucial in the analysis and the production of data. According to Saunders et al. (2003), it is essential that the research design is divided into consecutive phases and the researchers define the tackling of these phases. The researcher has to determine the approach to be used for each phase before answering the research questions. The phases are depicted by proposing to the research process union framework, which can be utilized to outline the key assumptions of the research philosophy that distinguishes between the inductive and deductive approaches.
This study has a qualitative approach and adopted the case study as the research strategy with the scope of bringing the evolution, over time, the planning and the project management techniques and methods applied in the construction company regarding the subject company and verify their applications in various companies in California, the United States, and the world at large. From the literature review as evaluated by Hajdu (2016, p.36), project management has a rich evolution in the American construction industry since the development of the line of balance technique and Gantt by the Navy Department as a systematized approach to managing projects in early years. However, as argued by Bosch-Sijtsema and Gluch (2019, p.6), because of the inefficiency of this method in managing projects, new developments were adopted where techniques such as the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) and the Critical Path Method (CPM) to assist in managing the projects. This opened an avenue for more techniques such as work breakdown structure (WBS), waterfall/linear technique, Kanban, and scrum to be developed and adopted in the construction industry in the US and the world at large. Therefore, from the literature review, the majority of the construction companies apply these techniques hence the need to examine the specific methods applied based on a practical company. It is based on the information from the review of studies that case study is seen as the best design of the research vehicle. The design was effective in adopting a specific company-review approach to critically analyze the techniques used in that particular company to reflect on the entire construction industry.
Thus, as a result, the research approach adopted was the case study of BRJ & Associates as a construction company. The application of the design in this investigation was based on the findings by Sutrisna and Abbott (2012) that this approach has been regarded as a strategy or a stance rather than a research method. Though the case study approach has its strengths and weaknesses, as depicted by Sjoberg et al. (1991), it is considered within a broad rather than a narrow framework. The research methodology used was critical in defining the way the research was to be undertaken and understood in identifying the techniques adopted by BRJ & Associates in relation to the rest of the construction companies. Thus, in this case, BRJ & Associates was regarded as the sample company with the results that reflected on the rest of the companies, their operations, and how they offer their construction services.
As an approach, Sutrisna and Abbott (2012) indicate that a case study is perceived as an empirical inquiry that facilitates investigating a phenomenon in its natural settings. BRJ & Associates, as a sample company, is considered uniquely positioned to identify the techniques it applies to help inform the researchers and the readers on the applicability of the management methods already identified in the literature review, such as CPM, Gantt, and PERT. This approach has been widely used in research that involves construction projects for different purposes. The data available about the construction projects were provided by the stakeholders of the projects that are based in the construction industry. For the current study, this data about the projects in construction was made available by accessing relevant documents with information on the projects that had been conducted by BRJ & Associates. According to Barrett et al. (2005), the investigations that have been conducted in the construction projects usually aim at identifying the gaps and help to improve the practices currently within the construction industry. The researcher in the current study reviewed various documents on the project management techniques in addition to the established documents of BRJ & Associates to measure the scope and the extent to which the company applies techniques in the management of its projects.
According to Merriam (2014, p.19), the case study design is often used when there is a need to expand on the existing literature, such as adding more on the perspectives of the project managers in regard to their choice of the techniques perceived as effective in pursuing construction projects. The literature review in this study highlights only some of the common project management techniques such as CPM, PERT, and Gantt that are considered older in the industry. Therefore, the case study was seen as appropriate for the current study since there was the need to explore the techniques and the process of project management from the perspective of a single company, BRJ & Associates, where the projects are controlled by multiple groups of people working for the company (Yin, 2015, p.32). However, the operations and performance of projects for this company reflect the rest of the construction companies. Eisenhardt (1989) examined the use case study design as having the researcher analyze data from one or more cases either from within a single case or across multiple cases.
A critical analysis was performed at the initial point of the research on the current state of the knowledge in project management from the literature review topic where various techniques already known were identified. The case study was then decided on as the research strategy to check the current status of the use of techniques that are adopted by BRJ & Associates as the construction company alongside other companies of the same nature as advocated by Yin (2015). The author examined this strategy as applied to questions such as why and how, especially when the events involved, the researcher has little or no control the way it is in the current study where the focus is on the project management techniques that are applied in the BRJ & Associates in planning, executing, and running the projects for their clients. One aspect that was incorporated in the case study approach was the comparative study that involved multiple techniques applied by the company in its project management, considering that the strategy allows the confront and compare by looking at the phenomenon in different contexts.
Case Study- BRJ & Associates, LLC
The case study involved BRJ & Associates, LLC, a company that offers is professional consulting with many services, including planning. The company was founded in 2001 by Dr. Bonnie James and Mark Edwards, who joined him two years later as a partner. It operates within the business service sector with its team trying to understand the complexities and the connections between the various activities the firm takes part in. Located in Azusa, California, United States, BRJ & Associates, LLC has 16 employees working across its locations, and its re revenue is at $4.54 million in sales. An insight into the company’s revenue for the past two years is shown in figure 6 below.
The company is involved in both large multi-project programs exceeding $800 million and smaller projects below $50,000 mean that it needs to adopt strategic processes that involve project management techniques. Since the company began in 2001, it has been able to provide owner-agency services in the subject area mentioned as its focus in carrying out both multi-projects and individual projects. The staff of BRJ & Associates, LLC are highly trained and professionals with the expertise to ensure they are able to maintain the schedules, budgets, and scopes of the projects for customers. The company remains submissive to innovative approaches even as it manages the design, construction, planning, and post-construction to add value to the project goals of the clients.
The case study identified multiple projects carried by BRJ & Associates, LLC that were the major focus in defining the techniques that were developed by the company throughout its project management. San Gabriel Unified School District project was performed in San Gabriel in California. The project ran from 2007 to 2009, and the owner/client for the project was San Gabriel Unified School District that involved assisting the District administration, staff, faculty, and the board in developing an educational master plan. The BRJ & Associates role, in this case, involved leading the board of education towards developing a final District Strategic Directions set, developing the district educational master plan, and the strategic directions translation into sound action plans. Among the staff involved in the project include the planning services director, vice president, and marketing coordinator.
The other project for the case study was Alhambra Unified School District that was located in Alhambra with Alhambra Unified School District as the client. It was a master plan that involved the assistance with campus/district program planning review through working academic and service departments to analyze the conditions of the programs, such as the immediate facilities issues. The infrastructural project was that of the solar farm called the Crafton Hills College located in Yucaipa, California, which ran up to April 2012 as its completion date. It involved the installation of about a 1.3mW megawatt concentrator photovoltaic system to produce up to 85% of the electricity needs of the college. The systems for the project consist of 140 arrays on a large acre of land and are considered the largest CPV plant in California. The role of BRJ & Associates entailed being a partner to Kitchell CEM to provide Construction Management Services.
Crafton Hills College was the utility corridor project with an estimated projected budget of $5,002,884, and its completion date was set as September 2009. The client for the project was San Bernardino Community College and was located in Crafton Hills College. As a utility corridor, the project provided underground utilities with the scope of new chilled water and hot water system distribution lines. It also involved the special coordination and safety systems and the new equipment connections within the existing facilities. The BRJ & Associates role includes partnering with Kitchell CEM to provide the management for program services. The Crafton Hills College is a mass grading site preparation project with a budget of $16,402,200 and San Bernardino Community College District as the client.
Role of the Researcher
The research plays an essential role in any research by being aware of the various underlying aspects of the research design to inform the conclusion. Lampropoulou and Myers (2013) observe that the researcher needs to connect the environment to the aspects of the study to help expand the understanding of the phenomenon. This allows presenting the perspectives of research in the convincing text to demonstrate a full understanding of the case. The project managers determine the completion of the construction within the required time in an expected manner by comparing the progress of the project with a baseline. For the current study, the comparison was conducted by the researcher on the various projects undertaken by BRJ & Associates LLC and among the techniques applied by the company in performing these projects. The comparison was to determine the common techniques that are utilized by the project managers of BRJ & Associates relative to those that are available and discussed in the literature. This was essential in understanding the project management of the subject company with respect to the construction industry in the U.S and the rest of the world.
The study involved the collection of secondary data that was used to establish the project management techniques that are used in the construction company. The data was about the company’s services that it offers to its clients that had earlier been identified as planning, program management, project management, and construction management. Johnston (2017) defined secondary data as that which has already been collected and is readily made available from other sources. Thus, the parties that are involved in the collection of secondary data are different from the researcher of the current work. These data are considered cheaper and can quickly be obtained compared to primary data and act as a substantial element when primary data is not available at all.
Sørensen et al. (2016) identified literature reviews as those which account for many varieties of secondary data classification, such as the ones that distinguish between raw data and compiled data. Johnston (2017) identified various common sources of secondary data, which include information that is obtained from government departments, records of the organizations, and data collected originally for other research purposes. There are other sources that include the books even though they are considered traditional, published sources that may be electronic and printed, journals, and websites, among other sources that are considered significant on the provision of the information needed for the study.
The major secondary source for the current study was the Statement of Qualifications of BRJ & Associates LLC as the company used for the case study. Besides this statement, data was obtained from the company’s official website (http://www.brjassociates.com), which provides information on the processes, services, and the work performed by the institution towards the clients. These sources were essential in extracting data on various techniques that are applied in the project management processes.
The measures of the project management techniques were devised based on the contents of Charvat (2003), which express what project managers need to do in planning and managing their projects. The findings of these measures were obtained from the company’s site and its statement of qualification, as shown in the diagram below.
The measures for the techniques used in BRJ & Associates were obtained from the services offered by the company. The offered services include planning, project management, program management, and construction management. The focus on these aspects is based on the understanding amongst the teams working for the company on the complexities and connection of the various pieces of construction. Thus, through the identified measures, the team can master the way of running different aspects of project development from the earliest strategic and operational master stages, planning, reporting to governing board and oversight board, manage the development design and construction professionals until the clients are brought to occupancy. Thus, the mentioned measures encompass all the requirements for the project managers and the responsible teams to manage the entire project right from the time of inception to the point of completion when it is handed over to the owners to occupy it.
According to Saunders et al. (2003), any research would be reliable if the measures examined result the outcomes that reflect different occasions. The reliability of the current case study relied on the information gathered from BRJ & Associates on the project management techniques and how these techniques could apply to the rest of the construction companies in California and the rest parts of the United States. For the researcher to ensure reliability, a comparison was made with the techniques applied in other companies as well as those mentioned in the literature review. The aspect of generalizability was not questionable, considering that one construction management organization was targeted to inform on the techniques applied in the business service sector to manage projects. The theoretical framework built by the researcher was based on the literature reviews that were well-researched to help design, validate, and use reliable instruments. The analysis of data collected and its interpretation was conducted to adapt to the research methodology that involved a case study around the subject organization, BRJ & Associates, in comparison to the rest of the other companies that deal in construction.
The ethical considerations were the basis of conducting the case study since the research focused on a construction company. Therefore, there needed to first seek consent from the company management before the use their information available in various published documents for the study. It was significantly important that data obtained from the company’s sites and statement of qualifications was to be used only for the study and not for any other reason. This means that the information would not get out of hand to reach the company’s competitors and be used against them.
This chapter examined the approach to be used to answer the research questions through the collection of relevant data. The design/approach that was choosen was qualitative which involved the adoption of the case study as the research strategy with the scope of bringing the evolution, over time, the planning and the project management techniques and methods applied in the construction company. This design was informed by the literature review that described project management as having a rich evolution in the American construction industry. The review identified multiple techniques that are commonly applied such as PERT, Gantt, line of balance, CPM, work breakdown structure (WBS), waterfall/linear technique, Kanban, and scrum. The case study approach adopted was that of BRJ & Associates as a construction company in relation to the techniques the company applies in its operations. In this chapter, BRJ & Associates, LLC is identified as a sample company in the US industry that offers professional consulting with many services, including planning. Similarly, the researcher played an essential role to identify various projects undertaken by BRJ & Associates LLC and among the techniques applied by the company in performing these projects. The data collected was secondary to establish the project management techniques that are used in the construction company. The major secondary source for the current study was the Statement of Qualifications of BRJ & Associates LLC and the company’s official website.
The chapter allows the presentation of the data obtained through the case study of BRJ & Associates. The obtained information is analyzed and interpreted in response to the research questions of the study. The analysis and interpretation of the obtained data is aimed at answering the following research questions:
- What are construction project management techniques employed by BRJ & Associates in the provision of services to its clients?
- What is the extent of use of the project management techniques adopted in the BRJ & Associates and the distribution of their adoption over the recent past in construction?
- What is the acceptance level of these modern project management techniques in reference to their effectiveness when applied?
This chapter examines the services that the company offers, the approach to the management, and the project types that BRJ & Associates has performed in order to make it easier to compare the techniques applied to managing these projects. The chapter presents the application of these techniques in various projects to bring out the extent and the adoption over the past years, considering that the identified projects occurred over different periods. The team working on the various projects helps illustrate the level of acceptance of the use of modern management techniques in BRJ & Associates. This is the case because a project that proved effective was widely accepted and substantially used by the company’s representatives.
Projects and the Applicable Techniques
An analysis was conducted to ascertain the projects that BRJ & Associates has undertaken in respect to how the company managed them. The table below shows the summary of these projects, type, and location, completion period, and budget where applicable.
|San Gabriel Unified School District||San Gabriel, CA||Master planning||2007 to June 2009||n/a|
|Alhambra Unified School District||Alhambra, CA 91803-1618|
|Crafton Hills College||Yucaipa, CA||Solar Farm||April 2012||$ 7,400,000|
|Crafton Hills College||Crafton Hills College |
|Utility Corridor||September 2009||$5,002,884|
|Crafton Hills College||Yucaipa, CA||Mass Grading Site Preparation||$16,402,200|
|Crafton Hills College||Yucaipa, CA||Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) |
|Athletic and Community Recreation||Yucaipa, CA||Site Preparation||September 2009||$ 5,469,499|
|Compton Community College District||Compton, CA||Upgrades | Utility Infrastructure and Central Plant||April 2005 to September 2007||$ 6,149,000|
|North Hall Offices and Classrooms, Valley College||San Bernardino, CA||Office and Classrooms||February 2010||$ 34,050,782|
|Compton Community College District||Compton, CA||Learning Resources Center||December 2003 to February 2008||$ 16,311,250|
|San Bernardino Community College District||San Bernardino, CA 92408||Capital Improvement Program||October 2006 to 2011||$ 200 million|
Since BRJ & Associates offers multiple services, the projects were the basis for defining the company’s techniques in accomplishing the steps involved in each project. The initial project of San Gabriel Unified School District, BRJ & Associates, was involved in the master planning. The company developed and defined the strategic direction and the process for decisions on the allocation of resources. By working with the District Administration, BRJ & Associates developed an education master plan critical in supporting the construction bond election. The company ensured that the strategy is implemented by dividing tasks among the team members, including the director of planning services and the marketing coordinator. For the Alhambra Unified School District, different strategies were developed by BRJ & Associates towards managing the project, which includes introducing the District Program Planning Review.
The Program Planning Review applied by the company reflects on the PERT technique that was critically analyzed in the literature review. From the study by Mazlum and Güneri (2015, p.32), this technique allows the scheduling and coordination of all tasks in the entire project. The method creates various tasks or activities that are then broken down are then added to a Gantt chart to identify the interdependent ones and allow the estimation of the duration of the project is based on the analysis of task sequences. Simmons (2002, p.1786) indicates that the importance of PERT is useful in planning projects with the duration of uncertain activities. In the case of BRJ & Associates, the technique involved working with various academic and service departments to analyze the current conditions of the programs to ascertain how they would be undertaken and implemented in the course of the project, as presented by Mazlum and Güneri (2015, p.32) in the literature. In order to manage the project, the company has to prepare education master plans that allowed the provision of leadership and support to determine the institution’s goals over an extended period. The company also adopted the strategy to analyze existing facilities and plan for scheduled maintenance and deferred maintenance programs to complete the project.
Project Management Approach in BRJ & Associates
Over the years, BRJ & Associates has been able to develop the management approach for the projects to enhance the construction of any project. This is done in the company through the ongoing review of quality work and adherence to contract requirements. From the literature review, a critical analysis of Syahirah et al. (2010) required that there is generation and updating of certain documents throughout the project if the construction management best practices are to be achieved. Shamp (2017), on their part, recommended the development of the technologies has been fueled by the declining costs of end-user computing and network communication. BRJ & Associates’s expertise is the “start-to-finish,” which has shown an excellent record of the whole process of the project and the completed work of the built-in documentation of the project. Thus, as a company, the management approach undertaken provides the solution and progress to the activities undertaken within the organizational facility. The project management approach of the company takes different forms that include team building, progress review and reporting, bidding and construction planning, program assessment and strategies, cost control procedures, quality control, schedule controls, and project close-up. This reflects on the initial definition of project management in the literature by Chitkara (1998, p.21) and Bhavesh (2000, p.7), in which the authors argued that it is the art and science that involves the mobilization and management of people, materials, equipment, and money towards the completion of the assigned project work on time and within the budgeted costs as well as the specified technical performance standards.
Team building in BRJ & Associates allows the project managers to assemble the teams for various activities to work together to help them overcome obstacles and ensure they meet the deadlines by working efficiently. Walker (2015) indicated that the success of any project starts at the team level and that a project management team that is considered effective is equally essential. This is because teams which cannot work cohesively may be unable or struggle to achieve the goals of the project as there may be dissonance between members, or there may not be the direction (Sahin et al. 2015). For BRJ & Associates, the project management approach incorporates early, efficient, and team-based work as it is seen as being critical.
From the literature review, Shamp (2017, p.13) concluded that project managers found the experience possessed by the team in creating collaboration among every constituency category as a source of advantage that helps to move the work forward. This applies in the case of the sample company such that in the program assessment and strategies, the physical and systems environment of each project is analyzed alongside the history of the customer prior to the starting and in the midst of the project before BRJ & Associates and the management team is involved in the project. Through this assessment and strategies, the principals understand the structure of the organization, personnel, and the overlay of the construction projects as they are directly linked to every client.
The effective approach taken by BRJ & Associates in the management of the projects is bidding and construction planning. From Sahin et al. (2015), construction project management runs many projects at one time, which then requires particular projects to come first before others. With this strategy that involves bidding and construction planning, the company ensures that all those projects which have failed or not yet successfully bid become the first targets. For those of this kind assigned with contractors, the construction activity is immediately planned for them. For the company, BRJ & Associates is at the leading role towards ensuring that the disruption of the operational site is minimized and work efficiency is maximized.
The approach also considers the use of the site by contractor, construction activity safe segregation, and how the surrounding neighborhoods become of significant concern. Safety is a significant aspect in the management process which is examined by Loosemore et al. (2003), who agreed that sometimes a program involved in the construction could have a goal that is higher compared to the safe work execution. For BRJ & Associates, the company is able to implement education involving safety with client staff which makes it easier to raise awareness of dangers inherent during construction. As this happens, it was in the findings by Magalhães et al. (2017) that the company project managers tend to hold the contractors accountable for the safe operations that are significant in the successful completion of the project.
In the project management approach undertaken by BRJ & Associates, progress review and reporting are given priority. Collyer and Warren (2009) hold that the project manager is always aware and familiar with the activities of each site of the program on a daily basis. As a result of this, the critical analysis of Oberlender (2014) found that project managers get an opportunity of involving in monitoring the planning and progress of construction, the adherence to responsibilities by the team, and the appropriate responses of the architects to the questions and submittals. The team is able to get the report from the minutes of the meeting held weekly on the progress with accompanying materials to communicate the projected and current conditions of schedule, scope, and cost. According to Collyer and Warren (2009), this reporting and review of the progress are considered significant in monitoring the project and ensure that issues that occur during the project are taken care of and handled so that they do not negatively affect the project completion.
The cost controls procedures are an important element in the process management approach used by BRJ & Associates, as supported in the report of Hendrickson et al. (2019) that all projects are subjected to the possibility that they will change the costs. In the case of BRJ & Associates, the company uses an approach that is proven to guard the best interests of the clients. Hendrickson et al. (2019) substantiated that these procedures tend to apply various strategies or techniques that include project changelog, systematic change evaluation, and regular reporting. A project changelog is a tool used by BRJ & Associates in its daily categorizing and tracking of any potential change issue in the contract or project as it arises. The systematic change evaluation, on the other hand, provides a manager review of construction and architect, detailed entire team buy-in, and cost ratification (Chen et al. 2009). The ultimate technique under the cost controls procedures in BRJ & Associates is the regular reporting that entails the step by step information that is provided to the clients on the possible liability in different sectors of schedule and cost, including the inspection costs, a local agency, and design costs.
Thus, through these tools, the company is able to provide a clear picture of what the project entails for proper management to ensure it is completed within the schedule and planned resources (Magalhães et al., 2017). It is also in the requirement of BRJ & Associates that the contractors are able to submit the “look-ahead schedules” of three weeks on every project that is undertaken for proper management of these subject projects. The submission of these documents is because they contain and articulate the planned work of the contractor for the period to come and give the opportunity to the managers of the project to focus on any possible problems or questions that may arise.
The schedule controls are committed to ensuring the compliant pursuit of the schedule as expected of all the participants of the project; hence is considered a strategy adopted by the company. The quality controls and the close-up of the projects were considered by Alothaimeen and Arditi (2019) as key tools in the management of the project. Since the architect of the project has the responsibility of ensuring the execution of quality construction, BRJ & Associates has prioritized matching of the documents of contract in a quality top priority. The company’s team has specific attention to the contractor’s operations in relation to the ongoing site operations (Magalhães et al., 2017). For proper management of the projects, the teams of BRJ & Associates ensure that documentation and planning are well done for the project from the start to the end.
Project Management Techniques
Forms of Project Management Techniques Utilized by BRJ & Associates are applied in its program management, project management, and construction management. The techniques are considered critical for the company since they allow they facilitate the provision of services to the clients through the management of design, operations of activities, and construction process. Thus, the project managers and their teams ensure that management tools are introduced to assist in structuring and to control their process leading to the achievement of the expected goals in any construction project.
The management of the project is what is depicted at the onset of the project during the planning stages of BRJ & Associates. This form of project management is performed through the design, construction, and completion of the project. Haidar (2015, p.2) defines program management as a process that tends to balance the key program constraints and helps to provide a tool for making decisions in the entire program cycle based on the performance metrics, aims, values to benchmark, and procedures that are established in the construction project. Earlier on, Florez et al. (2013, p.1172) had associated the program management to the various projects that are related to construction that are performed to achieve defined objectives to the clients.
This, therefore, requires that the program manager is familiar with the methodologies and techniques that are fundamental in dealing with complex issues. According to Jia et al. (2011, p.836), program management applies various techniques for any organization to be able to run multiple projects that are related at the same time and obtain significant benefits from such a collection. This means that many projects are brought together and managed as a program. It is considered a fairly new technique that continues to develop. For the case of BRJ & Associates, the company has employed multiple techniques to facilitate the management of the programs in the construction sphere. The techniques included strategic planning, operational planning, budget development, cost control, and architect or consultant selection.
Under the program management for construction projects, the emphasis is on the planning as the teams put measures in place to run through the projects successfully. In the strategic planning technique, the project managers and the responsible team, including the contractors, are involved in the planning forum to allow the stakeholders in carrying out a project to suggest the ways they would the project to be performed. Loushine et al. (2006) indicate that the essence of having a planning forum at the initial stage of the project is to ensure that the goals and objectives of the organization align with the needs and benefits of the client.
Besides the forum, the program management also entails the statement of values which informs the concerned team on the expectations of every project and the need to remain aligned to the project objectives and goals. The important tools employed by the managers of the program at this state include guiding principles, strategic goals, action plans, and the review cycle. The review cycle, according to Demirkesen and Ozorhon (2017, p.1642), provides the path to be followed in reviewing any project completed or yet to be completed to ascertain the success or issues holding the successful completion of such project.
On the educational planning, BRJ & Associates conducts an environmental scan to establish the external and internal factors that need to focus on in accomplishing the project. Prieto (2008) indicated that environmental scan is significant in allowing the project management team to make any adjustments or improvements on the planning to stand various issues or obstacles the project goes through. The program assessment, participation of the stakeholders, action plans, review plans, and review cycle are significant in educational planning by the team from BRJ & Associates. These strategies play a critical role in having the ideas of all the participants on board and decide on the elements of the project that are considered a priority besides an action decision on what needs to be achieved. It is at this initial point that plans are put in place by the company on how the review is conducted in the course of the project or after the completion.
From Magalhães et al. (2017), for the operational aspect of the projects, the company is involved in various programs that form the basis to accomplish the project. The plans put in place include resource, staffing, and technology plans, which entail placing the resources for efficient and effective use during the project implementation. Planning for resource allocation and use is critical to ensuring that the project does not run dry before completion. The correct technology and relevant people are assigned tasks according to their qualifications, knowledge, and skills.
The development of budget is a significant element with the program management, and BRJ & Associates has employed multiple strategies towards meeting the financial resources of the projects undertaken. Among the tools used to develop a budget are revenue projections, project budget breakdowns, and program contingency. Peterson (2013) found revenue projections important in managing financial resources in any project, which include the costs for each task. The Project budget breakdown identifies the activities of the work to be performed and assigns the specific expenditure for each of these activities. At the same time, the program contingency ensures that a specific sum of money is put aside to cater for the expenses that are not anticipated in the project but occur at some point in the course of work. BRJ & Associates has developed different tools or strategies to control the cost, including the use of budget adjustments and audit controls that make changes to the financial allocation to the work activities of the project.
Bhavesh (2000, p.7) critically analyzed the project management in which it was defined as the step in the life of any project that begins once the project is designed, working through the construction, and the completion of planned work. According to Chitkara (1998, p.34), project management itself defines the process through which all the activities of the project are planned, scheduled, and controlled to achieve its aims and objectives. Bhavesh (2000, p.7) in the literature review, argued that the major function of project management is to achieve success in the construction project implementation process. In the case of BRJ & Associates, multiple techniques have been identified and applied by the management team to run the projects towards completion. The techniques are divided into design-phase management and bid and award phase management. For the design-phase management, techniques included are design milestone document reviews, management of agency review and approval, independent cost analysis, constructability/bid-ability review, and value engineering (Shamp 2017, p.13). Bid and award phase management, on the other hand, involves the techniques such as bidder outreach program, bid packages, analysis of bids, and verification of final contract documents.
Peterson (2013) identified design milestone document reviews as key in the management of the project. Often, this technique involves a checklist with some worksheets of about four, with the first worksheet being design milestones and others include high-level pre-design, technical requirements, and documentation, and user interface. The design milestones worksheet, according to Ford et al. (2014), lists the major tasks or milestones of the design in the specific stages within the phase of construction. The independent cost analysis involves an assessment of elements that would cost the project at every stage and determine how much it would cost for the entire work to be accomplished.
Westland (2017) argues that such an analysis should be based on reliable sources, which include the historical prices that have been incurred before in other works of construction or depending on the survey conducted before the project. Value engineering, according to Sievert (2011, p.4), is an approach that multidisciplinary and function-oriented that is effective when used to plan building projects. In this method, a multi-disciplined team is involved in identifying and reducing unnecessary costs and poor performance while at the same time the quality of the product is maintained. For value engineering, there are five phases involved which include information, creativity, evaluation, development, and implementation.
For construction, project management techniques are conducted in various stages, which include the construction phase, project move-in, project closeout, and project warranty period support (Shamp 2017, p.13). BRJ & Associates has developed various tools and techniques that can help to manage the project activities through the construction process. Among these tools include conducting schedule reviews, controlling budgets and costs, moving plans and schedules, punch list completion, and the final report of the project. For the company to conduct these activities that help to manage projects, Janani et al. (2018) indicate that the project managers have the role of working in conformity or follow the aspects provided by the techniques that have been identified in the literature, such as Gantt, CPM, and PERT. The strategy adopted by the managers in BRJ & Associates aligns with the requirements and the aspects described by the common methods used in the construction industry.
The link between Techniques employed by BRJ & Associates and commonly used Techniques
The case study around BRJ & Associates indicates that the company has employed several techniques through the various stages of planning, program management, project management, and construction management (BRJ & Associates LLC. 2020). Among the techniques identified to be used by the company include are design milestone document reviews, management of agency review and approval, independent cost analysis, constructability/bid-ability review, and value engineering. However, these techniques are connected to the commonly identified methods in the literature review, such as Gantt, Balance Line Technique, CPM, and PERT that have been discussed in the literature review. The literature review critically analyzed the Gantt chart technique in the project as having the special features that allow the works to be broken down into work elements and schedule (Shamp 2017, p.13). This is followed by determining the score for each element and assigning a specific time to allow the simultaneous performance of tasks.
The Gantt as a technique has been critical in defining how BRJ & Associates renders its services from the time when they begin to plan up to the execution and the final completion of the project. The company has emphasized planning under the program management for construction projects. In the strategic planning technique, the project managers and the responsible team, including the contractors, are involved in the planning forum to allow the stakeholders in carrying out a project to suggest the ways they would the project to be performed (Zeynalian et al. 2013, p.56). BRJ & Associates has also involved in educational planning as established on the definition of Gantt, in which the company conducts an environmental scan to establish the external and internal factors that need to focus on in accomplishing the project.
The operational planning aspect is key to the projects of BRJ & Associates to put in place include resource, staffing, and technology plans, which entail placing the resources for efficient and effective use during the project implementation as depicted by the Gantt technique. It is evident from Chou and Yang (2012) that Gantt charts are more helpful beyond planning and scheduling tasks when used in multiple projects. Project managers may use these charts to plan and schedule entire projects, plan in sprints and milestones (Abdul-Rahman et al. 2011, p.49). Similarly, the teams’ work can be scheduled and compare the planned from what is in the actual timelines of the project. As a result, the application of the basics of Gantt has resulted in BRJ & Associates setting the ground for the projects, allocation of resources including funds and people, and follow up to the end.
Similarly, the construction schedules are at the heart of many projects’ execution using the Gantt chart, which gives the time frame within which tasks and activities are conducted. The Gantt chart used in this context involves the preparation of a simple tabular with a large amount of calculation not directly represented on the charts and graphs despite being necessary for constructing a schedule (Zeynalian et al., 2013, p.56). As Bell (2013) recommends, the Gantt chart should have separate equipment, materials, and financial schedules, personnel employment, and cumulative percentage schedules on critical elements. Project managers can use the Gantt chart to adjust schedules freely and link the dependent tasks, especially when some tasks cannot start until the preceding one is complete (Abdul-Rahman et al., 2011, p.43). This has been practical in BRJ & Associates as it is a requirement by the company that contractors submit “Three-Week Look-Ahead Schedules on every project that is undertaken. Through these documents, the contractors are able to articulate the work that is planned for the following period and provide the best opportunity when problems and questions can be anticipated (Zeynalian et al., 2013, p.56). The most important thing that the company is involved in is coordinating the diverse people and organizations that get involved in the projects considered complex. Thus it requires the pursuit of diligent schedule compliance by the participants of the project. In order to ensure that schedules provided by the Gantt chart are adhered to, BRJ & Associates has become adept with multiple scheduling software and also savvy enough to understand the tool to be used to the unique complexity of the project as well as the needs (BRJ & Associates LLC. 2020). BRJ & Associates ensures that there is frequent maintenance of schedule through weekly project status meetings to give room for each member to access the schedule updates and work around the project under the scheduled deadlines.
The Line of Balance technique has been identified in the literature as being the commonest that was developed to monitor the processes of manufacturing. In the construction sector, the use of this technique requires a large number of identical end products for the individuals to work elements for each product (Elmabrouk and Aljiebali, 2012, p.37). The identified elements are then repeated severally for the completion of the project and often involve repetitive activities. The analysis of the interference between the activities of the simulation and balancing is allowed by the simulation of the production lines of the process to perform all activities continuously (Abdul-Rahman et al., 2011, p.43). It involves the identification of two additional graphical presentations to develop the technique as a working tool. It also makes use of data from the lead-time chart since it is projected from the objective curve to the program progress chart.
BRJ & Associates has shown proof of applying the balance line technique by conducting an ongoing review of quality work and adherence to contract requirements. The company has recognized the “start-to-finish” strategy that records the project and the completed work of the built-in documentation of the project (BRJ & Associates LLC. 2020). Thus, as a company, the management approach undertaken by BRJ & Associates provides the solution and progress to the activities undertaken within the organizational facility. Similarly, the design milestone document reviews use to allow the checklist with some worksheets to lists the major tasks or milestones of the design in the specific stages within the phase of construction (Zeynalian et al. 2013, p.56). The listed tasks and milestones often involve the repetitive nature from one project to another; hence the project manager tends to master all the relevant processes involved in any project.
PERT has also been identified in the literature as the project management technique that measures the time taken to finish a particular activity or task of a project (Elmabrouk and Aljiebali, 2012, p.23). The technique has been perceived as helpful in the scheduling and coordination of all tasks in the entire project. The probabilities and use of simple statistical methods break down tasks into detailed activities with the aid of the work breakdown structure. The tasks or activities broken down are then added to a Gantt chart to identify the interdependent ones.
Thus, PERT plays a significant role in simplifying complex projects to help project managers get an estimation of the time one needs to schedule the project and the required resources. In reflection of the PERT technique, BRJ & Associates is involved in the progress review and reporting in which the project managers get familiar with the activities that happen daily on each side of the program. They engage in planning for the various activities from the start to the end and determine the time to be taken by each one of them (Zeynalian et al., 2013, p.59). This allows them to monitor for the planning and how the construction project progresses, moving from one task or activity to the other. By assigning the time to tasks, the team in BRJ & Associates adheres to the requirements at every stage of the project.
The final technique that is linked to the operations in BRJ & Associates is the CPM that lists all tasks, the duration for the completion of each task, the dependencies linked to the tasks, and the endpoints, including the milestones and deliverables for the project. Zeynalian et al. (2013, p.56) found that the application of design milestone document reviews in the management of the project with a checklist of some worksheets is enough proof that the company applies CPM to calculate the longest path from the planned tasks to the completion. BRJ & Associates apply various strategies or techniques in the management of their project, including project changelog, systematic change evaluation, and regular reporting. These techniques according to Elmabrouk and Aljiebali (2012, p.23) help to determine the length of the project and plan on the delivery of the project within the expected period as per the client’s request. A project changelog is a critical tool used by BRJ & Associates in its daily categorizing and tracking of any potential change issue in the contract or project as it arises. The ultimate technique under the cost controls procedures in BRJ & Associates is the regular reporting that entails the step by step information that is provided to the clients on the possible liability in different sectors of schedule and cost, including the inspection costs, a local agency, and design costs. The tools allow BRJ & Associates to provide a clear picture of what the project entails for proper management to ensure it is completed within the schedule and planned resources.
The common project management techniques of Gantt, CPM, and PERT are illustrated in the project management scenario of BRJ & Associates through the phases employed by the company. These phases, which are classified as design-phase management and bid and award phase management, facilitate the categorization of the activities based on the schedule to ensure that a step-by-step design is followed in completing the project. For instance, in the design-phase management, there are multiple techniques that are given priority, including design milestone document reviews, management of agency review and approval, independent cost analysis, constructability/bid-ability review, and value engineering. Bid and award phase management brings in other significant activities that need to be undertaken before the project is conducted and concluded (Zeynalian et al. 2013, p.56). The tasks undertaken at this level include bidder outreach program, bid packages, analysis of bids, and verification of final contract documents. The independent cost analysis assesses elements that would cost the project at every stage and determine how much it would cost for the entire work to be accomplished. This strategy is effective in ensuring that the assigned tasks and resources are completed as per the schedule.
This chapter is a presentation of the findings of the study following the case study around BRJ & Associates LLC. These findings were based on a management approach towards the projects to enhance service provision to the clients and achieve the expected goals and benefits. The techniques used are applied in its program management, project management, and construction management. The management of the project is depicted during the planning stages through the design, construction, and completion of the project. The techniques included strategic planning, operational planning, budget development, cost control, and architect or consultant selection. For project management involves the planning, scheduling, and controlling of the tasks and activities in the project. The design-phase management includes design milestone document reviews, management of agency review and approval, independent cost analysis, constructability/bid-ability review, and value engineering. All these techniques employed by BRJ & Associates LLC are related to the common project management methods since they involve planning, identifying tasks, scheduling, and budgeting for the projects.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The case study investigated the project management techniques in a construction company focusing on the BRJ & Associates LLC. From the study, secondary data obtained from the statement of qualifications and the websites of the company reveal that BRJ & Associates involves in multiple services, including planning, program management, project management, and finally, the management of construction. The location of the company is in Azusa, California, with 16 employees working across its locations. In all these processes, BRJ & Associates, under the leadership of the project managers, have the duty to serve the clients and ensure that they get the expected benefits and value for their expenditure. The teamwork of the company has experience in all aspects of project development, including strategic and operational master planning and reporting to the boards of governing and oversight. The company, on its part, focuses on achieving the anticipated goals and objectives. As a result, BRJ & Associates has adopted the progress review and reporting, design milestone document reviews, independent cost analysis, management of agency review and approval, value engineering, and constructability and bid-ability review as some of these tools and techniques to manage the projects they pursue their clients from the conception stage to the stage when the projects are completed with the intended resources and handed over to the clients.
The study focused on defining BRJ & Associates LLC in relation to rest of the construction companies not only in the US and California in particular but worldwide. As critically analyzed by Demirkesen & Ozorhon (2019, p.1643) the general principles of construction apply across the entire industry. Therefore, the characteristics depicted by BRJ & Associates LLC are reflected in what construction entails and the need for any construction company to develop the management devices. Preliminary information of this study revealed construction as having multiple variables that exist within a particularly dynamic and changing environment, something that makes management become a complex idea. Studies including that of East (2015) have found that many construction companies or those working in the business service sector across the world have been faced with the challenge of lacking formal planning and failure to comply with the deadline.
From the U.S Census Bureau News, the critical analysis in this study established that the country’s construction industry is one of the leading globally, with annual expenditures of more than $1,231 billion (Demirkesen & Ozorhon, 2019, p.1643). BRJ & Associates alone has revenue of $4.54 million in sales. These statistics are a reflection of the significance of the construction industry towards the global economony. Due to the significant role played by the industry, Schieg (2016, p.79) found the need for project managers in the U.S and across the board have to be strategic and thoughtful about working in an environment affected by constant changes in construction project management. Even the team that works for BRJ & Associates understands all the pieces of construction, including the complexities and connections. Most of the U.S companies have continued to improvise the sites through adopting suitable project management techniques that allow them to achieve their intended goals and offer the anticipated benefits to their clients.
From the literature of the study, the need to adopt the management techniques in the project is based on the common features of the projects in the construction sector. These features are borrowed from the Clough et al. (2017, p.5) in respect to the specific scope, schedule, and budget towards achieving strategic organizational goals. Significantly, research has established that projects undertaken by BRJ & Associates in the current context involve large amounts of capital investments and embrace several disciplines, many dispersed participants, tighter schedules, and quality standards that are stringent (Lock, 2016). Thus, the study has critically concluded that the project managers tend to develop the persuasion that a project is a dynamic and ever-changing system that runs from one stage to another in a life cycle. Thus, it first starts at the conception stage, moving all the way through the stages of feasibility studies, execution, and final completion. It is based on this argument that the current study had to search from the literature on what these stages mean in the life of any project since the knowledge and understanding of the relevant steps contribute to the success.
The significance of examining and investigating the life cycle of the project is such that it marks the start and the end of involved activities. In this study, the project life cycle, as indicated by the Project Management Institute, shows the progression of any project steadily from the beginning to the completion (Park & Peña‐Mora, 2018). Since it shows the time span of the project from when it starts to the time it is completed, project managers get in a better position where they are informed of the pattern to design the appropriate methods and techniques, followed by the determination in the use of resources, and the duration towards the completion. This is seen essential considering that the typical construction project moves from the conception of the idea, mobilization for preparation of the preliminary plan, designs, specifications, and resource mobilization up to the construction and commissioning, and final handing over of the project to the client for use (Lock, 2016). All these aspects need to be in the custody and knowledge of the project managers to facilitate their development of the appropriate techniques for the success of the anticipated project.
The basis of this case study is based on what entails in the management of projects and the techniques considered in achieving the expected timelines and budget. Through project management, the project managers plan, schedule, and control the activities of the project to achieve its aims and objectives (Liberatore et al., 2017). Thus, for the successful achievement of the project, strategies are implemented through cost, time, quality, and material management. The adoption of project management techniques and tools is necessary to ensure that project’s activities are accomplished without spending more and more of the revenue and manpower (Lock, 2020). The organizational culture and the objectives of the project determine the application of different techniques in the areas of construction. Thus, the decision for choosing a particular technique is based on the project specifics. For whichever project management techniques are adopted, they have to allow the organization of all the moving parts of the project into a logical set of tasks and leave nothing out to chance (Froese, 2018). However, in all circumstances, the focus should be on completing the project within the provided schedule, budget, and time regarding the owners’ expectations of such a project.
Therefore, the preliminary sections of this study have illustrated the features of the construction companies and their involvement in many processes ranging from the planning of the project to completion. With the focus on BRJ & Associates, it allows the understanding of the management of planning, design, construction, and operations of the facilities in the industry, considering that the company has adopted multiple project management techniques (Giao & Trang, 2020). This sets the basis of this study to examine the project management techniques in a construction company and help establish the extent to which these techniques are used and accepted in the company and their increased adoption over time, especially in recent years.
The literature review of this research focused on the most common techniques that are used in the construction and service provision sectors. By considering the lack of enough evidence on the pre-modern era methods used to marshal resources to accomplish their projects, the techniques used then and in modern times are identified for the reference of the findings of BRJ & Associates (Brown & Adams, 2019). This means that the review identified among the popular techniques, including the Gantt chart, balance line, work breakdown structure (WBS), program evaluation and review technique (PERT), and critical path method (CPM). The Gantt chart technique was first introduced as a management tool in the Graphical Daily Balance in Manufacture before it was later used by the construction manager. The Gantt chart allows planning where the project is broken down into work elements and schedules and helps to assign a specific time to all tasks (Levy, 2018). The technique has been found to be more useful even beyond planning and scheduling tasks when used in multiple projects. With the advancement in technology, the online Gantt chart is used in ProjectManager for free adjustment schedules as it may be needed while linking the dependent tasks (Lotfi et al., 2020). Similarly, it has been possible that tasks are assigned to individual team members and project managers for possible automation of notifications on upcoming deadlines to keep the project on track.
The Line of Balance monitors the manufacturing processes considering that its use requires a large number of identical end products. The elements are then repeated severally for the overall project to be accomplished. Hence used in project works that involve repetitive activities and for technical application, making it necessary to know the number of services to be performed and the teams’ productivity (Dasović et al., 2020). PERT has been identified as a technique used to identify the time taken to finish a particular activity or task of a project. It is possible to use PERT to schedule and coordinate all tasks in the entire project since it is able to manage the probabilities by the use of many simple statistical methods and breaks down the tasks into detailed activities and added to a Gantt chart to identify the interdependence. PERT is important in planning projects, especially when the duration of activities is uncertain. The final common technique examined is the CPM technique that works with the help of the construction of a project model that lists all tasks, the completion duration, the dependencies linked to the tasks, and the endpoints (Heigermoser et al., 2019). Through this technique, project managers are able to determine the longest path from the planned tasks to the completion by considering the earliest and latest time the tasks can start and finish without impacting the project schedule of the project. The manager and their team can use the CPM to break the work into manageable work elements.
The study is based on the commonly used techniques to draw the line on those that are applied in BRJ & Associates. Thus, the qualitative approach and the adoption of the case study were used as the design for the research. The use of a case study is perceived as an empirical inquiry that facilitates the investigation of a phenomenon in its natural settings and has widely been used in construction projects. Data about the projects in construction was made available by accessing relevant documents with information on the projects that had been conducted by BRJ & Associates. The major secondary source for the current study was the Statement of Qualifications of BRJ & Associates LLC and the company’s official website (http://www.brjassociates.com), which provides information on the processes, services, and the work performed by the institution towards the clients. They helped to extract data on various techniques that are applied in the project management processes.
The findings of the study about the techniques used by BRJ & Associates LLC were based on a management approach towards the projects to enhance service provision to the clients and achieve the expected goals and benefits. The techniques used are applied in its program management, project management, and construction management. The management of the project is depicted during the planning stages through the design, construction, and completion of the project. The techniques included strategic planning, operational planning, budget development, cost control, and architect or consultant selection. For project management involves the planning, scheduling, and controlling of the tasks and activities in the project. The design-phase management includes design milestone document reviews, management of agency review and approval, independent cost analysis, constructability/bid-ability review, and value engineering. All these techniques employed by BRJ & Associates LLC are related to the common project management methods since they involve planning, identifying tasks, scheduling, and budgeting for the projects.
Project management techniques in the construction industry have evolved over time, moving from something as simple as spreadsheet products to sophisticated elements, including web-based project information portals. The changes have been attributed to the dynamics within the business services and construction sector that have complicated functions towards conducting projects and successful completion. BRJ & Associates LLC, as one of the services offering companies in construction, has employed multiple techniques and tools towards managing its projects amidst the challenges and dynamism brought about by various elements such as technology, financial, and time constraint. Therefore, following the findings of this case study, the following recommendations are applicable in the situation of BRJ & Associates LLC and other construction companies when it comes to the use of project management techniques:
- The case study has indicated that most of the current project management techniques are introduced and applied in managing the problems that occur within the individual stages or activities of the project, such as the additional costs for reworking and lack of integration among elements. Therefore, there is a need to avoid this situation by ensuring that adequate communication is available between the members or stakeholders in the project. The stakeholders include contractors, project managers, and constructors, among others. The project manager has the duty to ensure that correct, accurate, and timely information flows from the client, architectures, designers all the way to the constructors to limit the problems that occur amidst the stages of project construction.
- Research has revealed the massive introduction of technology in construction in the 1990s, which then resulted in the production of very powerful software packages for the construction industry. However, even with multiple software introduced in the recent past, there has been a lack of integration among these systems weakening the management of the project. Therefore, there is a need for the development of international standards that facilitates the integration process and ensures that there is a proper exchange of information even when the company uses different techniques in project management. This will have a positive impact on the utilization of the resources, including time and funds, when conducting the project.
- As it is currently, the emphasis is shifting towards managing the flow of activities in the life cycle of the project as the focus is on the activities that are valuable. This, therefore, requires that the construction industry, including BRJ & Associates LLC needs to embrace a Web-Based Project Management System (WPMS). For the company to do this, it has to considered people, process, technology, legal issues, procurement, and knowledge management in equal measure. The efficiency of the current processes needs to be re-engineered to use the advanced technology while the company working towards the minimum common standards that ensure the information is flowing across the life-cycle of the project to realize the value of the techniques employed.
- From the findings, it is evident that the culture of a construction company impacts the performance when it comes to the use of specific management techniques for projects. This, therefore, calls for conclusive consideration of all the important factors around the project and the company, including risk mitigation plan and resource availability and allocation before starting off the project. This aligns with BRJ & Associates LLC considering that the aspect of mitigation of risks has not been substantially touched in its project management processes.
- The current case study focused on BRJ & Associates LLC as the company offering business services in the construction industry. With the findings, it is evidence that companies in the developed economy, such as the U.S, employ most of the advanced techniques when managing their projects. However, limited information has been availed in relation to the developing countries. This, therefore, calls for the need to conduct investigation among companies in the developing or less-developed countries to ascertain the ability to apply the common techniques such as Gantt, PERT, and CPM in addition to modern and advanced methods.
- The current study employed a case study approach about BRJ & Associates LLC as the reference company. However, this gives rise to data that is already recorded and stored in the documents of the organization, such as the statement of qualifications and the website. Therefore, there is a need to use a different approach to the collection of data, such as interviews and administering questionnaires to obtain raw data from the project managers and other stakeholders on the techniques they use and the ones they find suitable and appropriate for use in different projects.
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