India Emerges as a Global Brand in Projects
Dr. Mangesh G. Korgaonker
Director General, National Institute of Construction Management and Research, Pune
Project management has assumed great significance in India, a high growth economy propelled by massive investments, particularly in the infrastructure sector. Professional project management competencies are needed in infrastructure development, setting up manufacturing plants, product development, space exploration, oil and gas exploration, research and development, defense, social development, rural development, urban development, real estate development, and so on. Central, state, and local government agencies are engaged in bridging the gap between availability and requirements in nation-building projects. The investment for infrastructure development in the Twelfth Five-Year Plan is slated at around US$ 1 trillion. In 2009, a total outlay of Rs. 6072 billion was tied up in 941 central government projects alone. In the private sector, the investment value tied up in projects stood at over Rs. 100 trillion.
Important changes in project environment
With the rapid growth of project activity in the country, several farreaching changes have occurred in project management in the country like:
- Public Private Partnerships (PPP) using models such as Build Operate Transfer (BOT)
- Increase in size and capacity of projects
- Consortia, joint ventures, strategic alliances
- Rapid entry of new entrants and rapid corporatization
- Improved practice of project management
- Improvement in productivity, quality, and delivery capability
- Mega project financing, both within and outside India
Thrust on investments, structural alignments, and transfer of risk and ownership through PPP will not be enough. Issues like implementing state-of-the-art project management processes and best practice, building leadership and professional competencies, gaining mastery of project management knowledge, developing specialist talent, and creating skilled workers in large numbers need to be addressed.
Illustrations of recent brand building projects
Project management capabilities are constantly improving countrywide and the entry of a large number of new players from within India and outside has been a big boost. India is emerging as a global brand in projects. Most of the world’s best-known names in projects are now active in India’s growing project market. Here are a few pathbreaking projects that take Brand India further:
Strategy for Brand India in project management
- Space exploration—Chandrayaan, Indian National Satellite (INSAT), space launch vehicles
- National highway development and Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojna
- Manufacturing projects such as the Reliance Jamnagar Refinery
- The Konkan Railway project
- Delhi Metro rapid transit system and other rapid transit systems
- Bandra—Worli Sea Link Bridge Project in Mumbai
- Mundra Port & Special Economic Zone (SEZ): India’s largest private sector port and SEZ
- New/modernized airports — Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi
- New product development project like Tata Nano
- Nuclear and thermal power plants
- Nationwide telecom networks
Key elements of the strategy to make Brand India go higher, stronger, and longer should be:
1. Develop Leaders for Project Management
Leadership is the scarcest resource in the Indian project sector. There are only a handful of role models who are capable of making an impact in infrastructure, manufacturing, services, IT, and defense.
2. Develop Project Management Systems
Organizations must create project management processes using well-accepted process groups and knowledge areas. PMI’s global standard, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)
, focuses on five process groups and nine knowledge areas.
3. Define and Measure Project Success for Customers and Stakeholders
Project success is generally measured using “efficiency measures” like scheduled delivery dates, budgeted costs, yield, and other efficiencies. These are “necessary” measures across all domains, particularly in industry and infrastructure, but not “sufficient.” Project success must consider long-term impact on customer, project team, business, and preparedness for the future.
4. Develop Strategic Perspective of Project Management
An international survey of over 400 Architectural, Engineering, and Contracting (AEC) companies revealed acute gaps in Strategic Management (SM) processes in AEC companies. AEC companies are 30–40 percent less involved in SM activities than Fortune 500 companies. They have dispersed SM profiles and pay selective attention to knowledge resources, finance, and markets.
5. Innovate to Manage Complex Project Supply Chains (PSC)
PSCs comprise designers, consultants, technical specialists, contractors, subcontractors, vendors, and service providers. There are wide variations in capabilities across the supply chain. Significant gaps exist in design, consultancy, technical talent, specialized technology, and vendors. Coordination and integration of PSCs is a formidable challenge.
6. Adopt Lean Project Management (LPM)
LPM minimizes waste in projects, engages manpower in continuous improvement, and implements best practices through different phases like design, procurement, human resource management, planning, and construction.
7. Focus on Talent Development and Management
Project talent base must be built around high performers who are knowledgeable, innovative, and problem solvers; technical analysts who adopt best practice, and enhance customer satisfaction; and people who consistently exceed performance norms. Strong public private collaboration is necessary to address the challenge of developing trained resources.
8. Develop and Assess Key Competencies for Project Management
Upgrading of project management competencies is a continuous process. Well-documented systems for project competency assessment, mapping, and improvement are now available.
9. Embrace Green Construction
Projects impact the environment, health, safety, and the livelihood of local people who are directly affected by the project. Adoption of green buildings and construction methods/practices are vital. Green building implies reduced use of resources, and enhanced quality and diversity of life; correctly installed and operated building systems; the use of rating systems to evaluate a building. Focus during construction should be on low emissions, better fuel-efficiency, planning, and scheduling. Site disturbance should be minimal, materials and equipment free from contamination. Training is essential to raise awareness of sustainable construction, reduce waste, and adopt sustainable operating conventions.
10. Develop National Approach for Education, Training, Research, Certification of Project Managers
Worldwide, there are more than 450,000 people who hold the Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification. In China, the Ministry of Construction is actively involved in accrediting over 140 institutes as project management training providers and certifying over 500,000 project managers. Ministries such as Nuclear, Defense, and Oil & Gas have made project management certification mandatory. In India, although certification is rising, it is nowhere close to China. In 2006, India had around 6,000 PMPs, while China, had over 70,000 project managers who had undergone training. There is also an acute dearth of project management curriculum at the postgraduate, undergraduate level, and vocational certification levels or even within individual organizations.
The following actions will be helpful:
- Create professional project management courseware. Develop this discipline as a field of study at various levels. Provide impetus and certify institutes in the private sector for this purpose.
- Set up Indian institute/s of project management and research as central government institutes.
- Make project management certification widespread across all spheres.
- Create competency development and refresher courses for working professionals.
- Pursue skill development programs through industry—government collaboration at the state level.
India needs a sustained effort to cope effectively with the gigantic challenge of planning and executing a diverse range of projects envisaged in the country’s Twelfth Plan period, involving massive public and private expenditure. This requires effective participation of the central government, state governments, enterprises in public and private sectors involved in project activities, educational institutions and certifying agencies, and players in the project supply chain in a well-coordinated national-level strategy for effective project management. Concerted efforts are needed in the area of curriculum development, research, awareness building of project management, setting up new institutions, certification programs, and mass media support. Sustained advocacy at all levels of the government is equally crucial.