The demand for project management consultancy has seen a rising trend with increasing spend on infrastructure and built assets. The scope of PMC varies from client to client. In India mostly, construction supervision is synonymous with project management consultancy. IFIs and MNCs demand monitoring of quality, cost and time. On the supply side many large MNC consultants are operating in India. There are also a few good Indian consultancy firms which offer PMC services. With the rise in demand finding quality resources to deliver PMC services is becoming a challenge.
S S Acharya, Managing Director, Mott MacDonald India shares insights with Sandeep Sharma about the need and importance of project management in large capital projects, verticals and geographies driving growth, challenges and opportunities before the project proponents in India, key performance indicators and actionable insights about his company, emerging global trends in the project management space and opportunities in the Smart Cities segment. Edited excerpts...
What is the need and importance of project management in large capital projects? In what way your company can provide holistic solutions in managing large capital projects in India?
Large capital projects have inherent characteristics: longer duration, large capital outlay, managing complex interfaces and longer payback periods. Most often than not, these projects face significant time and cost overruns. At times the viability of the asset comes under question. Changes in user needs and technology advancements further complicate the situation leading to failure of large projects to achieve desired objectives. Project management plays a significant role in managing completing projects on time, costs and quality and to the satisfaction of the stakeholders.
Mott MacDonald has an established practice of PPCM (Project planning and Commercial Management). The practice leverages upon our century long experience of conceptualising, designing and implementing large capital projects across all the continents in diverse fields of large infrastructure, industrial built environment projects for public sector and private corporate. In India we have provided end-to-end solutions for large capital-intensive projects funded by International Financial Institutions, MNCs, Indian corporate, lenders as well as international equity firms.
Which verticals and geographies are generating good business for you? Who are your major clientele, and which are your major projects in India?
Urban infrastructure, transport, water resources, renewable energy is experiencing good traction. Projects are being funded by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan Bank of International Co-operation (JBIC) as well as large corporate houses with support from lenders. Government initiatives like Smart Cities, Dedicated Freight Corridor, Industrial Corridor, Housing for all, Highway development; Sagarmala, etc. are attracting significant investments from International Financial Institutions as well as private sector.
What are the challenges and opportunities before the project proponents in India? What level of customization can be brought to the table by your participation?
The project proponents face challenges in land acquisition, changes to project scope, obtaining statutory approvals and in some states obtaining raw material for construction beside shortage of skilled labour. Delay in decisions by various stakeholders also adds to the project timelines and increases project risks.
Based on our experience, we assist investors and developers in implementing an effective risk management system; which is in-house developed and tested across the globe. This allows the investors and developers to access the impact of incidences w.r.t. cost, quality and schedule and thereby take informed decisions. Further from our international best practices and learning’s from project experiences we help our clients to manage risks and maximise opportunities.
How far the key performance indicators (KPIs) are likely to change for Infrastructure/Real Estate Developers once your company is on board?
We help our clients in better scoping, precise budgeting, realistic time planning, quality assurance, and close monitoring. Our hallmark remains our unflinching commitment to ethics, and to a sustainable and safe environment. We are able to create a positive learning environment at site with different stakeholders like contractors, clients and designers; which allows them to keep project objectives at the forefront while taking any decision.
We have successfully been able to optimise designs, reduce costs and also speed up construction work by using our international expertise and local knowledge about the supply chain.
Could you share with us actionable insights that prompt companies to explore your services or give repeat business?
Quality cost based selection is the criteria for International Financial Institution (IFI) funded projects. Hence, for IFI project our winning mantra is right quality staffing and provides a sound workable methodology including robust quality assurance processes to deliver project. We have continuously received repeat business from our key accounts in private sector. We have added value to not only our clients but for our client's clients. Procurement process in private sector allows them to select consultants based on past experience and value created. Our ability to provide end-to-end and out-of-box solutions, maintaining global delivery standards, maintaining highest standard of ethics and safety is something which differentiates us from competition.
The Government of India is laying emphasis on building 100 smart cities in India. What is your take in the demand/supply scenario for project management in the changing realty and infrastructure space?
The demand for project management consultancy has seen a rising trend with increasing spend on infrastructure and built assets. The scope of PMC varies from client to client. In India mostly, construction supervision is synonymous with project management consultancy. IFIs and MNCs demand monitoring of quality, cost and time.
On the supply side many large MNC consultants are operating in India. There are also a few good Indian consultancy firms which offer PMC services. With the rise in demand finding quality resources to deliver PMC services is becoming a challenge.
Could you provide us insight about the emerging global trends in the project management space?
There is a changing trend in project management with technology playing an important role in the way project systems and data are managed. More and more companies are switching to project management systems in the cloud as they find it faster, less costly and also better to edit on cloud-based systems. Beside the cross-company collaboration is much easier via cloud system. Level of efforts will be automated by use of artificial intelligence so that informed and faster decisions can be taken by the project manager.
Globally the availability of a quality staff will remain the most critical factor in project planning and delivery. In many parts of Europe, Asia including India there is competition between project management consultancy firms for good quality resources and many a time it takes several months for key vacancies to be filled and this adversely affects the project progress.
Going forward, where do you see your company after five years in India?
We would like to play an important role in planning and advising our clients for large-scale infrastructure and industrial projects in India including PPP projects. We will continue to provide our project and programme management expertise to large scale projects in transportation, water, urban infrastructure, health, education, skills and industrial development.