Project Controls


auteur: Huib Roskam
datum: 10-07-2014

What is Project Controls? Not project control but Project Controls. Project Controls is the cohesion between a number of project disciplines that are fully dependent on each other and, apart from the execution of the technical project, will lead to an optimal project result. Project Controls is rapidly finding its acceptance in the world.

Disciplines such as contract management, planning & scheduling, risk management, cost engineering, project financial control, project management (PMO), information management en legal & compliance. 
You will find these disciplines described on the site of Civetta, the association for Project Controls, www.civetta.nl.

With the exception of a few successful projects, 80% of the projects develops different from what has been agreed contractually. Over the years it has been fascinating to see that we can spend billions per year on failure costs, without being able to change it. If we would have been able to cut the failure costs in two, we would have been far more competitive, there would have been less taxes, a better health care, better social services and substantially richer companies.
I do not know whether the latter would increase our wellbeing.

For more than 50 years we have had the most fantastic instruments to our disposal in hardware and software to help us manage projects, we are higher educated than ever, and the accessibility of data is better than ever before to help us learn from the past.  Nonetheless, we do not succeed to manage complex projects successfully.

Governmental ICT projects have cost overruns of hundreds of millions and hardly generate revenue after completion, we build tunnels that do not comply with the requirements, the costs of civil projects quadruple compared to the original views, road building projects spin out of control, turn-arounds on refineries turn into drama's, hospital project plans are marvelous and overpriced, housing cooperatives have lost touch with reality and banks have lost the ability to perform their basic function of financing major and minor projects and sell products beyond any responsibility just for the quick win. There is an endless record of drama's, all of which will have to be paid for. These costs, including failure costs, are born by you and me. Politicians, board members and bankers can't wait to explain that they had nothing to do with, or did not know anything about it. Sounds familiar?


Systemic flaw?

Is it a major flaw in part of mankind?

To me it has been evident for many years that success or failure of projects is largely dependent on organisation culture and behaviour. The culture in banking in the last decade has brought us to, and beyond, the brink of disaster. It is highly unlikely that the billions lost will ever be recovered. With the exception of a few very brave and conscientious smaller banks, the ability to learn from earlier mistakes is practically non-existent in this field. This is very disturbing considering the social responsibility that banks have. Governments and political representatives who allow for this behaviour often find a nice place in this field after their political career. 

I could image that you ask yourself; What has all of this to do with Project Controls? 

For almost 25 years my company, Vijverberg Advies Groep, assists companies and organisations in the execution of complex projects. We are called to assist in two different kinds of situations:

Either companies have a good vision and culture and call in timely support by professionals during the investment phase, the initiation phase, the tender phase, the contract award and the execution phase. These companies want to meet the challenges adequately in time while being confronted with the continuous change of circumstances on projects in general. We are also frequently asked to coach, train and assist the project crew. Fighting the cause shoulder to shoulder for optimal results. In these circumstances it is very rewarding to achieve a successful project and improve the competencies of the crew at the same time. 

Ór the project is already lost, frequently accompanied by a number of different disasters. In this case there is no Project Controls culture, the main approach is project recovery, there are many extra costs of which nobody has a clue about how to handle them. All that is done is to salvage what can be salvaged. We often see a lack of structure, behaviourial issues, and a lack of self-reflection. In these organisations it is very often experienced as being too painful to admit the absence of structure, team spirit, competence, management and vision. Sometimes in this stage we are called in and even, though we warn in advance that our findings will also be painful, it hurts and does often not fit in the career perspective to admit that serious mistakes have been made. The classical "Shoot the messenger happens often.

Again you might ask yourself; "What has all of this to do with Project Controls".

Apparently the human factor is so important and so difficult to manage, that the need to implement a culture of Project Controls and install a coherent structure becomes vital. In the USA, the British Commonwealth, with multinationals, major industrial contractors and owners this awareness is very much present. Here, Project Controls as aspect of corporate culture has become commonplace. The Project Controls manager fulfills an essential function for the implementation of their vision on Project Controls, thereby providing for an essential cohesion between the different disciplines.

In a society where our education levels continues to increase, where the variety of educations continues to grow and every educated man or woman wants to be respected in his or her discipline within the dynamic world of projects, the skills required by the Project Controls manager to let each person in his or her discipline function and communicate optimally, is a task that requires great skill and perseverance. To create the coherence between all these aspects and to achieve a top level project, it is necessary to become aware of what is possible in each discipline, what are the best instruments to work with, and how to cope with the information flow. To integrate these into a manageable functioning system is the ultimate goal of Project Controls. 

Project Controls is in continuous development. Technical developments cahnge, stakeholder requirements increase, law-  and environmental demands change, culture and behaviour are permanently subject to change what is the normal, is outdated tomorrow– and all this influences Project Controls. Even, though the words Project Controls do not indicate it, we are talking about a very dynamic environment, where all aspects are very dependent upon each other. The ancient Greeks knew this already; "Everything changes, nothing remains". The new Greeks have already illustrated the need for a different approach. 

Old wine in a new bottle? When in the 1980's someone addressed the famous management guru Peter Drucker on a symposium: "Mr. Drucker, what you're telling us, is nothing new." his answer was "Then why don't you f... do it". 

Projects become more complex by the year, partly because we make them more complex, partly because we translate the risks in increasingly larger amounts of money, we become more claim sensitive, data has grown exponentially and has subsequently more difficult to control. Additionally, projects increase in complexity because we showcase more paranoid behaviour resulting in less trust  between parties, because we have become more complex as human beings and frequently have lost our basic essentials, because we have cultivated our ego's and money appears to be a disturbing motivator. 

Than it is reassuring to realise that in this time of a vast amount of influencing factors, there is a well-defined structure of disciplines that can help to balance the project culture in organisations. Project Controls is such a structure. 


Brielle, July 10, 2014

Huib Roskam



Profile Huib Roskam

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Huib Roskam is active since 1991 in the field of contract management & claim consultancy, conflict management, mediation on major projects and acts also as coach and trainer. He is managing director of Vijverberg Advies Groep. Huib is specialised in claim prevention, claim managent and project recovery. Hij is a certified mediator.
Huib is a passionate consultant with empathy for people. Coming from a background od industrial contracting, he is not afraid of taking appropriate measures. He leads “five to twelve” corporate and project recovery, trains and coaches on the project Controls disciplines and effective performance.
Huib is boardmember with verious professional societies such as Civetta, the association for Project Controls, the Contract management Institute Netherlands and the Dutch Planning and Scheduling Association.
Huib is also a registered therapist and apart from his entrepreneurial actvities since 2008 active in his BodyMind psychotherapy practice.

1951
1963 - 1971
1973 - 1980
1973 - 1976
1980 - 1990
1991
1991 - current
2000 - 2001
2003 - 2010
2007
2008
2011
2011
2013

Born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Gymnasium β
Various procurement and contract management employments
Business Economics, RRR
Various management functionses SGS Nederland
Creation Vijverberg Advies Group
Managing director Vijverberg Advies Groep
Postgraduate Master Changemanagement, VU Amsterdam
Postgraduate BodyMind Psychotherapy, BMO Rotterdam
Mediator, CEDR Londen
Practice BodyMind psychotherapy
Boardmember Dutch Planning & Scheduling Association (SPIN)
Boardmember The Contract Management Institute (CMIN)
Boardmember Stichting Civetta, the association for Project Controls


Memberships of professional associations:

PMI, AACEi, CEDR, Civetta, SPIN, CMI, RBNG, SRBAG, SBLP.

- Project Controls matrix

- Project Controls

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