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a.

Research and Professional Experience


When a contractor submits his bid for a construction project and goes through the rigorous
process of tendering, evaluation and subsequent award, he is hopeful that he will make
appreciable returns. It can be quite frustrating however, during the execution of the works,
where the contractors feels and realises that he is not getting the desired returns on his
investment.

About a decade ago when I worked for a construction company on the National Service
Scheme, there was a huge disconnect between the monies that was being paid the workmen
and what was eventually certified by the consultant and paid in terms of work done for the
contractor. The contractor was always complaining that the firm was making a lot of loses
and that the consultant and client were underpaying or to directly express his sentiments,
cheating him. As part of his professional team who has just been employed on the project, the
reality was true but I could not just agree with him on the face of the certified works but
wanted to prove with some empirical evidence why it is so, before making any unjustified
claims to the client. I set to investigate the issues by analysing each bills of quantities item
and how it is executed on site in terms of material use and workmanship.

After a thorough study I found out that the contractor was making loses due to the fact that,
site management processes were not being adhered to, leading to excessive wastage of
materials and human resources. For most building construction activities, the material
component of the cost matrix is about 60-70 percent of the total cost, and thus any
deficiencies in these areas, affected the project adversely. There was no properly lay down
process and procedure for ordering materials for the project, neither were there any controls
to check whether what was ordered or procured was used for the intended part of the works.
Also,any trade headsman could go and request for materials without recourse to the General
Site Supervisor or manager.

There was little or no structure in the organisation of the site personnel. There were only two
managers from the main contractor and the rest were sub-contractors, and everyone was his
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own boss; thus, there was almost total chaos on the site. The above mentioned factors coupled
with others, were the real issues which led to the contractor getting less than expected. A
critical cost breakdown analysis of the bills of quantities rates, revealed that the contractor's
margin for that particular project was below the market range therefore a worsening of any of
the factors mentioned above, causes a further dip in the contractor's profits. There was a huge
disconnect as to what the estimators had envisaged the execution phase will be which
informed the way the bills of quantities were priced, and how the project was actually being
executed.

On my current role as a procurement consultant at a project implementation unit of a


government agency, I see this and similar situations creeping up in some of the projects I
supervise. This time, in a much complex array of worsening economic conditions, contractors
are aggressive in their pricing of works and during the execution phase they seem to focus
their energies on complaining instead of delivering on the project and finding solution to their
self-inflicted problems.

I see a growing disconnect between the tendering stages and the implementation stages of
projects. Of worrying concern, is that most professionals that a contractor proposes to use
during the bidding process, do not end up being part of the final team who are to execute the
work. Some contractors tend to produce quite convincing evaluate-able and verifiable
documents during the tendering stage however at the time of execution, most of the winning
teams do not show up. This is a growing phenomenon with contractors bidding for projects in
the public sector where the government is the largest spender on projects. There are more
questions being raised about this phenomenon that is to say whether the contractors only use
those professionals document to satisfy the rigid or high criteria of the client, or it is an issue
of leveraging on cost saving on the professionals cost input to compensate for he the
contractors low price that he won the bid with.

Reliable cost data for construction is difficult to come by in Ghana now. This situation makes
planning and budgeting difficult. For the public sector, there may be some form of
institutional memory in terms of previous works done, but for the private sector there is no
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clear cost data to guide estimating and planning. The current project that I am working on, is
a typical example, in which the parameters for the budget, were not consistent with the reality
on the market and thus from day one, the project has been bedevilled with budget constraint
issues, while there is a tall list of beneficiary expectations to meet. With the aforementioned
challenges that arises in projects, I believe that some solution can be arrived at, when the
projects integration is designed well. In pursuing this program I hope to gain considerable
knowledge in the area of Project Integration and how it can be effectively implemented, in
order to ensure efficiency in the Construction Industry

b. Statement of Purpose
Growing up as a child I tended to challenge myself to do more than two chores at the same
time. My late father was always concerned about me doing that. His reason for discouraging
me from multitasking, was that, if I did not learn how to do one thing at a time, I would
always have too many things undone at the required time. I heeded his advice. However,
around Primary 6 when I started playing the then popular Game Boy; a handheld video
game device, I realised that because of my fathers advice, I ended up focussing on one part
of the game, which led to me being confused, and eventually ended up losing the game. I
went to my father one day after loosing a game and express my frustration to him, and to my
surprise, he had a good laugh at me. He then retorted that, focusing did not mean not thinking
about other things that are equally important. This childhood episode has been with me
through my growing life and has endeared me to approach every task that I am engaged to
deliver to my optimum best without loosing the fact that other things are equally important.

In my few years of practice as a professional I have seen a lot of issues which have gone
wrong on projects which I felt could have been handled better. I will give most of the
professionals who were in charge or in the mist of those issues, high marks when it comes to
professional competences they had, however, average marks when it comes to the
management of the people they engaged. In Micheal Vinje, Founder of Trissential LLCs
article, Project Expert: Balancing Art and Science in Project Management, which was
published on TechTarget, he poses a very important question that Is project management an
art that you're born with or a science that you can learn? The truth is, it is both. The artistic
aspects of project management include qualities such as; leading, enabling, motivating and
communicating. An artistic project manager can direct the team when work priorities shift,
resolve issues when they arise, and determine which information to communicate when and
to whom. The science side of project management includes planning, estimating, measuring
and controlling the work.

I believe that in the bid for those managers to satisfy the sponsors of the project, those
professionals turned to focus more on the science aspect of managing the project to
achieving the set goals and voluntarily or involuntarily ignoring the artistic aspect. There is
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sometimes a dichotomy of the two aspects and that is what is motivating me to pursue this
program with your institution.

If granted admission, I hope to be better off, when it comes to managing the two aspects of
project management, in order to enhance my output in project delivery in Ghana.
More especially Ghana though declared middle income status, does not have what it takes to
move it to the next level of industrialization. The government is focusing on improving the
access to and quality of technical and vocational education in the country to prepare the
nations human capital be better positioned for the challenge of its new status. A lot of
indicators point to the fact that there is a wide infrastructure deficit which needs to be
bridged. I do not want to be left behind in this huge challenge of the industrialization agenda
of our country and to this end, the pursuance of this programme will add a lot of value to my
skill set in pushing the nations industrialization agenda.