Don’t Forget Your Umbrella!

Don’t Forget Your Umbrella!

Matthew Schofield, Executive Director, and Sean Vernon, Senior Contractual/Commercial Consultant at Quantum Global Solutions continue their series of articles on the construction industry. This month, Sean questions your memory and asks how many of you consider having an umbrella in Qatar a burden or a blessing? Indulge me for a moment and let us have a short quiz. How many of you can say with any certainty what you ate for lunch on 24 March 2015? What about remembering if it rained on 12 January 2017? I am fairly sure that, with the exception of something having made an event memorable, the majority of us would have extreme difficulty in remembering such details of our lives. Of course, some people are blessed (or is that cursed?) with an ability to recall everything that has happened to them. Some things are better forgotten, such as returning from abroad and thinking that my car had been stolen only to discover I was in the wrong airport car park. But other things, such as your wife or husband’s birthday, are things that are essential to remember if life is not to turn unpleasant. In life there are many ways to remember dates and events. Traditionally one can use memory aids such as mnemonics. Silly rhymes to jog the memory, such as, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” to remember the date of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America. Alternatively, one may jot things down on scraps of paper, write diaries, or, in the age of the mobile phone, set a reminder alarm. All of these may assist your memory. So what does...
Making some sense out of claims

Making some sense out of claims

The potential change in Security of Payment legislation, which is set to become law in Hong Kong later this year, will govern payments for construction work done in the public and private sectors, and will set out rules for when and how payment must be made. This is very similar to the UK legislation known as the Housing, Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996, later updated and revised in the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. Was the UK legislation successful? The straight answer is yes. It promoted the flow of cash, which as we all know is the lifeblood of our industry, and it promoted that through statutory legislation in the 1996 and 2009 Acts. How will this operate in Hong Kong and whom does it affect? The objective of the Hong Kong legislation is to make money move freely and to stop unfair payment clauses. This means that ‘’Paid when Paid’’ contracts in which, for example, the subcontractor only gets paid when the contractor gets paid, will be unenforceable in court, arbitration or adjudication. Unreasonable payment periods – such as 90 days for interim payments – will no longer be allowed. All this can only be a good thing. In the public sector, the legislation will cover all construction contracts, regardless of value. In the private sector, however the legislation will apply where the contract for a new building has an original contract value greater than HK$5m ($644,000). When this applies to the main contract, it will automatically apply to subcontractors, too. This is a minor drawback, which begs the question of why the authors...
What is a Risk…?

What is a Risk…?

Last month we talked about “The Right Order”, placing our requirements and ensuring each piece of the jigsaw is delivered in the right sequence, but placing our requirements and delivering in the right sequence has pitfalls.  In basic terms these pitfalls are risks, but understanding what is risk and how we control risk is a different story altogether. The Oxford Dictionary defines risk as: A situation involving exposure to danger; and The possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome will happen. Last month we discussed how we placed an order for a lovely steak dinner, obviously the steak needs to be cooked, this involves heat (a lot of heat) and to cook the steak to perfection the chef would use scalding hot oil and butter, how will the chef avoid being burnt, what are the risks … and how do we control them? So cooking a steak, with hot oil on a hot stove, is definitely a risk. In everyday life we go about our business, we get out of bed, we shower and dress, most get in to cars, trains or buses and go to work.  At work we start a normal work day; completing tasks and attending meetings, until it is time to go home.  We then travel home and spend the evening with family or friends, before we go to bed and start the day again.  What risks do we face each day? Do we know the risks and deal with them? Or, do we just not have a care in the world? Take driving a car for example, many countries provide cheaper car insurance if the...
Food for Thought

Food for Thought

Matthew Schofield, Executive Director, and Sean Vernon, Senior Contractual/Commercial Consultant at Quantum Global Solutions continue their series of articles on the construction industry. This month, Sean moves into the kitchen and discusses the implications of giving the right order …   The use of design and build, Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) and Engineering Procurement Installation Commissioning (EPIC) contracts seems to be on the rise and you can see the advantages to the client. Cut out a tier of administration and complexity. Leave the problems of both construction and design to the contractor. Give your order and wait to pick up the keys to your new building. However, it also seems that in many cases the client often does not understand the right way to administer such contracts. Imagine that you are dining out in a nice restaurant. You want to eat a certain dish so you scan the menu and select what you fancy. Maybe steak. An Argentine kobe, 250 grams, medium done, with a beef jus sauce. Side order of fries and haricot verts. A nice Malbec to accompany it. In other words you have given your requirements and you now wait for these to be fulfilled and the meal delivered to your table. The chef served his apprenticeship at the Ritz in Paris as a commis chef before working for a further two years as sous chef at Maxims.  The kitchen has been inspected by the authorities and complies with all relevant legislation and food hygiene guidelines. The staff are also highly trained and aware of the requirements of running a top class restaurant. The detail...
Do we really need to communicate?

Do we really need to communicate?

Matthew Schofield, Executive Director, and Sean Vernon, Senior Contractual/Commercial Consultant at Quantum Global Solutions continue their series of articles on the construction industry. This month, Matthew discusses how communication is a critical component in project management. Last month we discussed how instructions and indeed drawings need to be complete and more importantly be fit for purpose for any construction project to be finalised. This included constructing an IKEA desk compared to a multi-million dollar project, but how is this possible in today’s world. So many organisations have so many different departments, 3rd party consultants, various sign offs and approvals with some being in different countries. How on earth can anything be put together, agreed on and completed? How do they communicate to get alignment? It is simply impossible to project, manage, construct or even define what somebody actually wants without communicating. To communicate doesn’t necessarily mean being a great talker. Research has shown that even in our earliest days in the classroom we are trained to focus on presence, vocabulary, delivery, expression, grammar and so on. One of the best diagrams in the project world to understand how communication has broken down, or how assumptions are made and perceptions derived, is the Project Tyre Swing Diagram. This truly demonstrates the result of what happens with the breakdown of communication and not understanding what somebody wants or even means. Does the diagram show a true reflection on what happens on a project when communication breaks down? Yes very much so and rework costs a lot of time and money. Great communicators possess a heightened sense of situational and contextual awareness....
Women in project controls – Spotlight on Lucia Vernon

Women in project controls – Spotlight on Lucia Vernon

Lucia Vernon was recently promoted to Associate Director after having worked as a Senior Forensic Planning Consultant for Quantum Global Solutions in Doha, Qatar. She was born in a small village in Slovakia to parents whose dream it was to build a big house for their family. Her favourite daily game during her childhood was building sand castles. As a result, her dream was to work in construction when she grew up and wear a helmet and big boots. Following her dream, she studied civil engineering at the Slovak University of Technology and afterwards she finished a Master’s of Science degree (MSc) in Management and Economics in the building industry. Showing her commitment to her dream, she achieved the academic honour of best student of the year. During her studies she sat in class and watched the building of Burj Al Arab in Dubai and dreamt about being a part of the Middle East construction boom. Lucia spent her summer holidays on a students’ work program and travelled in foreign countries. She still remembers her best summer holiday working as an architect’s assistant in AX Holding Company in Malta. After her university studies, she got a job offer from a well‐known engineering company in Slovakia, IDO Hutny Project, where she started as assistant to the project manager preparing the tender for a desalination plant in Malta. She spent four years working for this company in different job roles which led to the position of Project Control Manager. It was at this time that her dream to work abroad was re‐awakened.         Lucia gives big part of...