The spotlight might just benefit – in more ways than one – regional project managers, who have historically had to contend with lack of awareness about the value they can add as part of a project team. Fortunately, as Fisher points out, this perception is changing.
“There is still a mixed view of project managers across the GCC,” he says.
“In more mature countries and clients, an understanding of the [project manager’s] value has evolved over the years, and the [...] role has evolved, from being a post-box or policeman, into a person or a team that develops a strategic value chain for the client and brings specific specialisms to different project types.”
The client-centric approach Haddad previously outlined is also finding its way into the Gulf’s construction sector, thanks to clients that want “project managers to be truly embedded within their team”, Fisher says.
“There are still some entities that prefer to not utilise project managers, although the percentage [of such firms] has been dropping. In times of tight finances, it can be easy to look to cut this [expense] from the development budgets, but this rarely aids the turn-out costs, as the outlay is a relatively minimal percentage of the overall budget, and a competent project manager can either save or prevent expenditure many times the consultancy cost,” Fisher adds.
Clients reluctant to employ project management teams may find themselves left behind in a market that is quickly adopting new models to fund its products. As Ashraf Al-Garf, chief executive officer at Projacs International, explains, public-private partnerships (PPPs) – a fundraising model that is gaining immense popularity in the GCC – reiterates the important role of project managers in construction teams: “Most owners, whether public or private clients, are implementing PPP schemes, where project managers [are necessary].
“However, the approach of having this scope mandated by the owners has changed. Project management firms have to be part of a big consortium, mainly led by the general contractor or the financial body, [who] should be flexible enough to adopt our work models to cope with [PPP needs].”
While hurdles related to perception and cost-benefit remain unchanged, today’s typical project management team, led by risk-averse construction clients, is evolving into a more flexible entity than ever before.
“Due to current economical limitations, project management firms have to adapt themselves and offer [independent] services,” Al-Garf tells Construction Week.
“It is not necessary [for the client demand] for the full project or cost management scope, so we should be flexible and ready to offer [individual] services, such as design reviews, value engineering, costing, planning, and so on.