HOW DID YOU GIVE YOUR PROJECT A ‘PASSED MARK’?

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More than a decade ago I was introduced to the field of Quantity Surveying, the experiences have been both interesting and challenging. The needs of clients are ever changing so as the expectation of clients from their financial and contract managers (QS) on projects becoming complex. The complexity of projects emanates from technological advancement that impacts on construction materials, construction methodology and change in building codes. Government ministries and agencies, civil societies, financial institutions, funding organizations are demanding more transparent, quick, but yet efficient procurement methods.

Traditionally the tripod of client requirements or the assessment of project success is on QUALITY, SCHEDULE and COST. I will limit my interest on quality today (subsequent write-up would consider other parameters of project success, like satisfying project stakeholders, and meeting project business or social requirements.

The term QUALITY is a bit ambiguous in the modern day quality management system. It’s more simplified on ICT projects, yet ambiguous on construction and engineering projects. In most cases we limit our definition of quality to zero defects during defect liability period or at the point when final certificate was issued.

Modern days project management gives clear robustness in managing project quality and this can be addressed using variety of criteria or tools like (Cause and Effect diagram, Scatter Diagram, Histogram, Pareto diagram, Control charts, Flowcharts, etc.). Quality consider the following factors and many more;

a)      Fitness for purpose (Eventual Performance cum functionality of project)

b)      Zero defect (Performance cum functionality at the point of project delivery)

c)      Conformity with specification/requirements (Comparing intended specification with achieved specification)

d)      Cost of good quality and cost of bad quality (Cost of good quality covers training, document processes, testing and inspection cost; while cost of bad quality includes, rework, scrap, liability, warranty work, lack of repeat business from clients)

It’s wrong to believe a project was successful simply because it was completed on schedule and within the cost\budget. The parameter of QUALITY travels far in considering whether the scope and stakeholders’ requirements are met or not. it’s important to note that the competing elements or forces in Nigeria construction industry always almost makes project a failure, it’s not a mere assertion, a project is not of good quality if the cost of delivering quality as defined in the project requirement management plan exceed the ‘cost ‘of bad quality.

I recently travelled to my hometown Ipetumodu, Osun State, Nigeria, and I noticed a Solar powered street lighting project initiated, supervised and financed by Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), which the people in that community praised about 3 years ago has completely stopped working, another similar project by ECN with equal abysmal result along Ede Road after OAU Campus gate in Ile-Ife, Osun-State, all still comes back to our perception of project quality! The objective was to show that ‘we are working as a Commission’, not thinking of the project sustainability and quality issues. The folly has permeated the core of our governance structure that a state like Osun thought the only way of achieving quality education was to demolish foremost academic institutions physical assets in the state, the Aregbesola led administration demolished St. Augustine Catholic Primary School, Ipetumodu, the School I graduated from in 1998 (Arguably the best public Primary School in Ife North Local Government), the foremost Fakunle Comprehensive High school, Osogbo was demolished, while leaving wide virgin land alone to build new educational facilitates. I believe the government didn’t consider the economic loss of complete demolition of built assets. These are few out of many ill-conceived projects like various Borehole projects sponsored by (Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Commission), Health and educational facilities across the country, and diverse uncompleted programme of government. I was not surprise when an illustrious professor of Quantity Surveying, Prof. Godwin Onajite Jagboro recently choosed to deliver an Inaugural Lecture at Obafemi Awolowo University; titled,  ‘UNMASKING THE TOWER OF BABEL AND THE SCOURGE OF ABANDONED PROJECTS IN NIGERIA’, I was not opportuned to attend, I believe He must have done thorough and robust academic dissection through his scholarly mind, and recommends solutions to our plague of ill-conceived projects that fill the horizons of our nation.

These thoughts filled my heart:

1)      Every kobo used as bribe on capital projects limits the possibility of achieving quality project, or increases the cost of quality. How then can we work in order not for politicians to see project as avenue to unconstitutionally feed from public treasury?

2)      How long are we going to continue initiating projects based on political prejudices and not on effective needs assessment plus due diligence?

3)      What is wrong in conducting life cycle costing of real estate and construction projects?

4)      Can we say our political leaders understand QUALITY leadership that is built on sustainable growth, rule of law, and strong institution?

5)      Have we individually evaluated the cost of delivering quality projects, products, and/or services over cutting corners and taking the easier paths?

6)      What is my role as a trained Quantity Surveyor in ensuring quality project without allowing my clients to pay more, or double of the real cost of project?

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Ayo Faleye

A writer

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