A task force on project management services delivery is in the final stages of developing a guide that aims to shed some light into how stakeholders involved in a project can interact with project management (PM) firms and what roles and responsibilities those involved have.
"As a group we have struggled — struggled is probably a kind word — collectively with project management firms, how they interact with us, how we interact with them," explained Kees Cusveller, chair of the General Contractors Council during a meeting at the Canadian Construction Association's (CCA) 99th annual conference in Mexico.
"We've had on our agenda for some time now, (a method) to try and come up with a way on how we can deal with project management firms and how they can deal with us."
Initially the task force was established to assist owners that were considering using PM firms, but the scope was expanded to develop best practices for all stakeholders such as owners, PM firms, consultants and contractors.
"We do need to make this an all-inclusive document. It does affect everyone in the industry," explained task force chair John Owens.
Mark Mulholland, of PM firm Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions, was on hand for the council meeting to discuss his involvement with the guide and how the industry can work together to make projects run more smoothly.
"It (the guide) became more than just what should a PM firm be doing, or why should an owner select a PM firm and how should they select a PM firm," he said, adding he understands the concerns brought forth from contractors regarding PM firms, as in some instances the roles and responsibilities may not be clearly defined, which can blur lines during a project.
"There is some misunderstanding about our role. We represent the owner, but the owner has overall authority at the end of the day, not the PM firm," he said.
Mulholland was asked during the meeting what value a PM firm provides and why they are used at all.
"There's many reasons why an owner will engage a project management firm," he stated, adding in some instances owners do not have "the tools and processes in place to manage the program of projects. We're there as the owner representative to ensure that we're still on target from a client perspective, a budget perspective and scope point of view. Whether we're there or not there's always a project manager of some form. It's more than just managing a contractor on a project."
Included in the guide will be a document that includes a RACI (Responsibility, Accountability, Consulted and Informed) Matrix that explains the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders. It provides a detailed list of project management activities and the stakeholders' relationships to those activities.
"It's for clarity. The roles and responsibilities are identified at the beginning of the project," he said.
"This is not a top secret document. This is something that should be shared within the confines of the project and it should be done at the early stages of a project."
The draft guide will likely be ready in time for the CCA's spring board meeting in St. John's, N.L. in May.