A paper presented to the International Seminar on Project Management for Developing Countries, September 4 to 6, 1991, in New Delhi, India. The audience was made up of mostly construction people, but much of the following content could equally apply to large projects in other areas of application.

Executive Summary  | Index | Part 1 | Part 2 | Conclusions | References

When Should a PMA be Conducted?

Both "planned" and "spot" appraisals are possible. However, a program of planned PMAs, in which the parties concerned are notified well in advance, are much less intimidating and more constructive. This enables key information to be extracted or retained as a basis for the review, with minimal interruption to on-going work. It has the added merit that management will be obligated to set standards of conduct and performance, while individuals will keep mindful of these standards in the course of their daily activities!

In determining the timing for PMA, it is important to relate to the four basic phases in a typical project life cycle.

The first phase of a project involves its conceptualization, including preliminary configuration, technical and economic feasibility, positive and negative social and environmental impacts, and examination of project alternatives.

The second phase involves stages in which the technical plans are developed, any required technical feasibility studies are conducted, and the resulting findings provide input to a thorough planning stage. This planning stage typically culminates in a Project Brief which should both constitute justification for funding the implementation of the project, as well as provide the base line data necessary for exercising control during its execution. In other words, the conclusion of this phase represents a major go/no-go decision point in the life of the project, a distinctive separation between the planning of the project and its realization.

The third or execution phase of a construction project typically encompasses the stages of detailed design, procurement of construction services, i.e. tendering and award of contract(s), followed by the major part of construction.

The final or finishing phase of a construction project is not strictly discrete from prior stages, but is sufficiently different in content to warrant separate consideration. It not only involves the testing and startup of the facility, but typically includes training of operating personnel, transfer of responsibility for the facility, release of project resources and closing of project documentation.

Given this brief outline of the construction project life cycle, it will be seen that PMA should be planned into the project early in the second phase, by identifying the PM Appraiser and together establishing a suitable mandate. A PMA can be conducted with advantage towards the end of the second phase, which provides an opportunity to verify the various risks involved, and possibly identify additional risks, which can then be provided for in the Project Brief. This can add significantly to the credibility of the Project Brief and its chances of securing funding for the ensuing phases of the project.

PMA activity would normally be stepped up during the several stages of the third phase of the project and, like the various other project activities, trailed off in the final phase. Nevertheless, the PMA documentation can make a significant contribution to the project's final close-out report.

Should the PMA be Conducted?  How Should the PMA be Conducted?

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