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LETTERS: ... or do we?

So Railtrack, advised by their project management consultants, judge that the mainstream construction industry is not well equipped to provide project and programme management skills (NCE 3 June).

For those with awareness of developments in project and programme management thinking this will come as no great surprise.

Construction is shackled by a mindset of 'We do and always have done projects - so we must be good at it.' Traditionally contractors have managed to achieve their (low) margins despite generally poor project management by aggressive use of the contractual small print and have had little incentive to give attention to developing the project management competence of their personnel.

Railtrack wants programme managers - I doubt that many in construction truly understand programme management, how it differs from project management and the different competencies it requires.

The emphasis is shifting sharply from increasing recovery to managing costs properly - which requires development of project management competence. Clients are looking for partnering and other forms of co-operative relationships with their suppliers - which require a set of competencies broadly lacking within construction but with much in common with those required for programme management.

Those organisations, be they consultant, contractor or specialist subcontractor, who recognise that they might have something to learn in these areas and take active steps to address that need, will be those best placed to reap the benefits. And the rest? They will eventually suffer the same fate as the dinosaurs.

Jerry Bailey (M), director, BCMS, bcms@saqnet.co.uk

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