Letter from MD, PMI India | Download a PDF version  



Giri: Even as India marches ahead, there are a lot of gaps (between the current state and what it should be). Cost and time over-runs are a serious issue in infrastructure projects. We have with us today a panel of speakers who have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and will share with us some of their thoughts and ideas.


Jain: My ministry monitors central government projects that are Rs 150 crore and above, and presently of the 606 projects underway only 18 are on or before schedule. Most of the delays have been due to hurdles in land acquisition, environmental clearance, and forest/wildlife clearance. The loss due to project cost over-runs has been pegged at Rs 40,000 crore a year. But more stringent clearance, stricter monitoring of projects and the move to fi x responsibility for delays have brought the cost over-run in central government public sector units down from 62 percent in 1991 to 20.7 percent in 2010. The loss to the economy due to time over-runs in projects is Rs. 88,000 crore a year. Here comes the importance of project management to control time and cost over-runs and make projects more successful.


Modi: How close are we to reality? Execution doesn’t happen in boardrooms, but at project sites. Between 2000 and 2005, the government annual budget for highway projects was Rs 5000 crore. Now the government is spending Rs 1 lakh crore a year. This has created opportunities across the value chain. Today I consider 30 percent annual growth in my company low. To tap into the opportunities, companies should shift the focus from reducing attrition to increasing employee engagement, and thereby increasing productivity. Companies should communicate, listen and reach out to its employees. The motto should be to provoke thought and inspire action. We need human genius as much as we need technology. I believe in 9 Ps for project success: pride & passion, perseverance, patience, planning, preparedness, pragmatism, profits, principles and prayers.


Kapur: When we get low returns on a project, why don’t we cancel the project? The idea is to not repeat mistakes, catch the mistakes early and prevent failure. At Harvard, we did a study on ‘no failure’ professions, where failure is absolutely unacceptable. These professions were identified as those of a combat pilot, civil pilot, anesthetist, restaurateur and magician. The elements that are high in professionals in these ‘no failure’ jobs are a process-oriented approach, passion for the job, techniques, tools and a strong instinct. Equally important is discipline. Do good things when nobody is watching!


Batra: India’s infrastructure story is at its pinnacle now and will help in further economic growth. More than one percent of the GDP is getting lost due to lack of infrastructure. India still lives in a village. There are large gaps in the current and desired state in rural infrastructure. There has been progress, for example in electricity generation, the growth has been 60-65 percent of late. Project progress dropped in 2008-2009. But the biggest constraint is talent management. 60-70 percent of projects are slipping. We need a good risk management and quality project monitoring and reporting which will lead to successful project management.


(This is an excerpt of the panel discussion highlighting some of the key points discussed.)

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