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Project management can mitigate market risks in the GCC

by Neha Bhatia on Aug 12, 2017

Market conditions have prompted a shift in the GCC’s project management practices.
Market conditions have prompted a shift in the GCC’s project management practices.

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It is undeniable that the dynamics of delivering a construction project in the Gulf are rapidly changing. As regional leaders contend with the impact of reduced petrodollars, a new economy is emerging within the GCC’s building market. Developers, now faced with limited budgets, are demanding more environment-friendly projects, at lower costs, and within shorter timelines.

Now more than ever, a project manager holds the key to rationalising the oft-challenging demands of construction teams in the GCC. As William Haddad, chairman and founder of MACE Contractors, explains, shifting economic trends have reiterated the need for agility in project management teams.

“In these tight times, where every dirham counts and is counted, our focus has shifted to value-creation and value engineering,” Haddad tells Construction Week.

“Therefore, project managers have to become more strategic thinkers. It is important to understand that every project is embedded in a strategy. This means that if we don’t understand a company’s strategy, then we cannot decide which projects should be executed and which shouldn’t.

“Therefore, strategy needs to be clear at all parts of the organisation to make decisions that are aligned and speak the same language.

“[The] big challenge that companies are facing today is the ability to translate strategy into well-defined actions, such as projects and programmes that need to be implemented. Achieving this requires competent people, and the application of the right processes and tools,” Haddad says.

Amid contemporary market conditions, construction finance has become a notable determinant of project management delivery programmes.

However, as Brian Fisher, head of project management at Faithful+Gould Middle East, points out, the significance of competent change management in mitigating construction risk cannot be understated, regardless of market finance patterns. Fisher has supported – and is continuing to support – the delivery of some of the Middle East’s most ambitious projects, including Dubai’s Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences.

“The ability of a competent project manager to manage risk and change, and ensure that the client is communicated to as soon as issues [may] arise, is paramount to any project’s success,” he tells Construction Week.

“During periods of low or tight liquidity, budgets are understandably monitored and managed in even more detail. In these [situations], clients place incredible emphasis on change and risk management, as capital is constrained. This doesn’t detract from the core competencies of project management – it just places a particular area in the spotlight.”