Hills Global Technical Core Team Advancing PM Best Practices

Hill’s Global Technical Core Team Advancing PM Best Practices

TCT is implementing improved practices for project management systems, project manager’s integration, audits and training programs

A prime objective set by Hill’s top management for Technical Core Team (TCT) Global for 2016 was to integrate the two groups within Hill International’s 2015 structure – the U.S. Project Group and the Hill International Group – on issues related to project management systems, project manager’s integration, audits, training and other closely-related PM processes. Originally set up in 2006, TCT Global is now poised for a bigger leap, said Akram Ogaily, who has been the TCT Global director since it was established and who has, to a great extent, single-handedly taken the initiative to set up this capability with ample backing from Raouf Ghali, current President and Chief Operating officer, and Abdo Kardous, then senior vice president for the Middle East and now managing director for Asia-Pacific. “The challenges was, and the objective I aimed for, was to continue to create a Hill brand for PM performance. I believe we have been successful,” he said, adding that through TCT Global, Hill is also setting up programs and conducting seminars to improve standards and sharing knowledge through all PM teams along with developing expertise to evaluate and maintain quality standards for its projects.

The start-up of TCT Global can be linked to the Lagoon Project in Dubai for which Hill was awarded a contract in 2005 to provide PM/CM services and one which Ogaily termed as “one of the most complex” mixed-use development projects that involved procurement of 12 international consultants for various design and construction packages of civil works, buildings, utilities and facilities. “I led the 32-member Hill PM team. But after a year the project was put on hold, resulting in the need for my team to be engaged elsewhere,” Ogaily said. With more than 40 years of expertise as an architect/urban planner, that included an architecture degree in Baghdad, Iraq, a masters from the BartlettSchool of Architecture in UCL London, setting up his own design practice “Archicentre”, and being awarded design competition of major institutional and housing projects in Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, the UK, the UAE and Algeria, he utilized this vast experience and knowledge combined with Hill’s PM undertakings of Kuwait Islands development and the Lagoon project in Dubai as an opportunity to forge ahead with setting up the TCT PM International Group. “I decided to utilize the learnings and experience as I saw opportunities to improve PM process systems and organization, training, quality control and monitoring within Hill International. When we started TCT in 2006, we decided to use the same team that came out of the Lagoon Project,” he said. Stating that project and construction management services require a well-designed database and proper process manuals of procedures to establish operational chain in each project, Ogaily said a mandate for TCT’s role and its objectives were set up and issued in late 2006.

TCT’s Global Mandate

The objectives included setting up and developing a Hill database in Dubai that included all PM/CM documentation; engaging TCT in the start-up of projects; supporting projects during construction; prequalification of consultants and contractors and preparing RFPs for all types of projects; supporting business development efforts and in their proposal write-up and presentations; design review and value engineering for different projects; and auditing project performance.

“In 2006 when TCT was begun, there was a company manual which mostly applied to the U.S. market PM processes focused on the public sector. There was a need to develop PM/CM procedures that addressed the different environment of market standards, types of developers and complex major projects to drive PM team performance for the International Group,” Ogaily said. While work started diligently on creating a database, TCT Global also began engaging itself in helping to start up projects that were awarded to Hill. “A challenge faced by the team was a timeline of one-to-two months to deploy staff and also set up the project management system. We go in, within a short period after signing the contract, to set up the project systems and the tools, start reviewing the contracts and prepare RFPs for early procurement services. These services have often been used by our business development team to win contracts,” Ogaily said. Besides reviewing the design, TCT Global also follows up with the consultant on any changes that have recommended. Also in certain cases, the TCT has led as the PM team in those projects that are deemed to be “very complex,” he said, citing the examples of the Al-Bardiya project in Libya and setting up a Hill branch office in Iraq in 2011 where there was a need to handle all the marketing complexities of educating and promoting PM services, awareness in local universities and public authorities, deploying staff, recruiting locals and providing support to the business development team. In addition, we also developed PM awareness through seminars and lectures in a country that had lost all its intellectuals and knowledge due to wars and embargo. From 2011 and until early 2014, we managed to contract seven PM/CM projects in Iraq including providing PMO services for the Housing Authority of Iraq,” he said.

Changing role of TCT

TCT Global has evolved over the years, both from the view of expanding its role and also organizationally. Instead of having a central TCT in Dubai, it was suggested that each region would have its TCT, leading to the setting up of ‘branches’ in Madrid for Europe and Cairo for North Africa. But that did not prove effective and in late 2014 when David Richter assumed the role of Hill’s Chief Executive Officer and Ghali as the COO, it was decided to break the walls between the U.S. Corporate Group and Hill’s International Group by setting up TCT America, led by Simon Mortimer, and supported by TCT Global to cover the U.S. and Latin America markets. “The first thing we did was to transfer our PQMS and all our generic PM/CM procedures developed from 2007 to 2015 to be tailored and made applicable to the U.S. and Latin America market projects,” Ogaily said, adding that, in 2015, TCT Global was extended with a base in London that closely supports and monitors project operations in Europe and Americas. TCT Global is playing bigger role in training through Training and Professional Development committee. Just recently, a six-member committee has been set up to implement a training plan and procedures.This year, TCT Global started up knowledge integration between the U.S. Project Group and the Hill International Group.

Since early 2014, and after more than 15 project audits worldwide, TCT Global acknowledged the need to improve training capacities. Subsequently, a training plan was prepared, with the HR-Hill University Training Program used to organize and manage different training programs for Hill’s employees in coordination with PM institutions and universities.

Looking ahead, the TCT Global Knowledge Centre website was launched in May of this year to which Ogaily now plans to engage all PM teams to activate the most important information to be shared with the Hill staff under a “lessons learned” section. “My goal is to bring the Hill culture to everyone in the company and also develop and share knowledge,” he said. With Hill International getting close to its targeted order book of $1 billion worth of projects and the company being awarded more complex projects globally – particularly in the infrastructure development sectors – TCT Global is poised to play a bigger role both within and outside of the company. “In the past three years we have audited 26 projects globally and we are sharing our reviews with clients, particularly those projects that are challenging and have been turned around successfully,” Ogaily said.

By Ashok Dutta