- Raj Kalady, Managing Director, PMI India
How important is project management in the development and operation of airport infrastructure and what are the advantages of adopting project management?
Airport infrastructure and operation involve various stages from concept, design, quantity estimates costing, financial close, pre-construction activities (land acquisition, removal of encumbrances), EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction), project closure, COD (Commercial Operations Date), operation and maintenance (periodic as well as regular), final maintenance (prior to handover) and handover. Further, some factors associated with airport infrastructure projects like managing multiple stakeholders, suppliers, and contractors within strict deadline and budget, and in some cases, even working amidst a fully operating terminal, etc. All this requires precise planning and coordination and this is where project management comes to play an important role.
The rationale for project management arises from the need to institute consistent standards and methods to eliminate project delays, correct poor or improve project planning processes, provide clarity on roles to ensure authority matched with responsibility for project completion, advance project performance, remove cost overruns and contain costs. It thereby aims to separate project performance (success or failure measures) from project progress (meeting clearly agreed milestones or setting parameters at the end of each phase, etc.), guarantee quality to project needs and augment customer or coordinating agency satisfaction.
Are project management practices followed in Indian airport infra development?
Though not as widely as desired, project management practices are adopted and practised in projects in this segment. Though organisations are realising the growing need for structured project management, many are looking at short term training programmes to enhance the skill sets of their project teams. However, the situation warrants a more serious approach. The PMI - KPMG study on project schedule and cost overruns, Expedite infrastructure projects survey reveals that by 2022, Indian infrastructure sector is likely to have a shortage of around 3 million project professionals including project managers, civil engineers, planners, surveyors, safety professionals, etc.
What are your recommendations to the government?
PMI and KPMG have identified following recommendations: Set up a single window clearance mechanism to simplify the regulatory approval process; set up a three-tier project management office structure to monitor and de-bottleneck infrastructure projects above a certain threshold limit (say over INR 100 crore) or for projects of national importance; substitute existing bidding process with the average-bid method, where the contract is awarded to the contractor whose bid satisfies a certain relationship with the average of all bid prices; develop robust process for fast and efficient dispute resolution by strengthening existing arbitration laws, encouraging institutional arbitration, and creating dispute resolution boards; institutionalise project management training for professionals as the lack of project management skills in professionals working on infrastructure projects is impacting efficient project delivery; reform India´s vocational education and training programme to create a large pool of employable work force; develop efficient transport and logistics system to enable faster project implementation; create an exhaustive list of empanelled vendor at Central level for infrastructure projects and promote PPP model by creating a detailed policy for implementing PPP projects, ensuring adequate returns to private players and developing a long-term debt market for infrastructure projects.