Civil engineers face the challenge of needing to meet or exceed the expectations of three parties – the client, their firm, and the public – for a project to succeed. How does an engineer develop to optimize the likelihood their project will be a success?
Risk management for public design-build projects involves not only the technical aspects the work, but also attending to the human factors that influence the success of a project. For civil engineers, if the client, typically a government agency, their firm, or the public is not satisfied with the outcome of a project, their work might be technically unimpeachable, but the overall project is likely to be considered a failure. In order to minimize the risk associated with the relationship aspects of a project, the engineer needs to avoid the most common sources of dissatisfaction among stakeholders.
Three Obstacles to Project Success
The root of most relationship problems associated with design-build projects lies in misunderstandings and communication issues about the fundamental aspects of a project. The three areas where engineers, clients, and the public and/or third parties are mostly likely to develop misperceptions include:
• Project Cost: While the cost of services may be outlined, clients often do not consider when they are late in reviewing and approving elements of a project, the delays may increase the expenses associated with the project.
• Scope of the Project: Often one party might assume a particular task is included in the engineer’s services, when it is not. Additionally, an engineer may do work that is normally included in a certain type of project, but the client made arrangements for another provider to handle a particular task.
• Project Schedule: Uncontrollable events can derail the scheduled completion of a project. Clients need to be aware of the situations that can delay a project that are beyond the control of the engineering firm.
Just as an engineer develops a blueprint for the design of a structure, he or she also needs to create a plan to manage the human side of the project. Part II of this series will review seven elements of engineer- stakeholder relationships that require attention and planning for a project to succeed.