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...
Coffee Tables and Claims – Design as It Relates to Contractors

Coffee Tables and Claims – Design as It Relates to Contractors

Most of us are familiar with IKEA as a leading seller of flat-pack furniture even if we have not actually bought any furniture from them. The rental flats of the world would be empty if not for IKEA. When you buy a piece of IKEA furniture, such as a coffee table, for example, you are in a similar situation to a Contractor starting up on a construction contract, setting aside that you have actually paid for the furniture. On opening the flat-pack it is essential to find and read the instructions. These instructions are equivalent to Issued for Construction (IFC) documents, a combination of specification and IFC drawings. It is essential to read and understand the instructions much as it is to read and understand a contract’s documents. Fail to do so and the outcome will be exactly the same be it constructing a coffee table or a flyover. IKEA’s designers have worked many hours to produce a coffee table design that will hold several cups of coffee, a selection of magazines and the essential TV remote. This coffee table has also been through testing to ensure its suitability for this job. The result is what you see in the brochure. Follow the instructions and you will go from flat-pack to coffee table in no time at all. Each element of the coffee table is shown on the drawings with the method of fixing specified. This should also be the case for IFC documentation on a construction project. The design is the Employer’s and the Contractor takes this and builds the project in accordance with this design. The end...
Important questions to ask before a project starts

Important questions to ask before a project starts

Jon Sanderson and Matthew Schofield, Quantum Global Solutions Associate Directors continue their series of articles on the construction industry… this month discussing the important questions to answer ahead of a project beginning. Last month we discussed should the same project management techniques and procedures be used on every type of project, irrespective of its size and importance. In our view, for a project to be successful, project management techniques and procedures are essential no matter what the size of the project and missing a single element can put the project at risk. Therefore, for best practice all tools and techniques used in the process are required to be reviewed, used or eliminated. But before any process can be followed, what should be asked and completed before the project actually starts? The objective is to eliminate any chance of failure or any chance of putting the contractor at risk, considering unmanaged risk may equate to potential loss of money. Also, asking pertinent questions before a project starts shows that the contractor is a professional organisation that cares about the project, its people and the overall process. What is the right time to ask the tough questions, about process, organisational politics and risks? Asking direct questions will hopefully go a long way to ensuring that the right processes suitable for the project are applied. Furthermore this sets the right expectations in regards to how the team integrates and communicates.         Photos by Jack Murphy So going back a few steps and understanding the goal of the project will help in devising a project strategy and having an ultimate...