In 2017, the series of Construction Expertise 101 workshops was launched with the aim of helping construction professional learn about the various trades and expertise of their fellow professionals in the industry. Given the multi-faceted nature of the construction industry, it can be challenging for construction professionals to learn what their colleagues actually do.

The series was had 2 rounds of workshops. The first round of workshops covered the following fields: Architecture, Land Surveying, Building Contracting, Quantity Surveying, Construction Claims Consultancy.

The second round of workshops was held in March of this year. The following fields were covered: Project Management, Civil & Structural Engineer and Geotechnical Engineering, Mechanical & Electrical Engineering, Building Surveying, Construction Programming Consulting.

The participants reported high levels of satisfaction with the quality of the speakers and found the workshops to be educational.

Below are write-ups on several of this year’s modules which were contributed by the speakers.


Project Management Module

1. The presentation given during the Construction Expertise 101 workshop was intended to provide an understanding of the following topics:

a. Project Management vis-a-vis other disciplines.

b. Types & Roles of Project Managers.

c. Scope of Project Management service.

d. Art and Science of Project Management.

e. Project Management and legal advisory.

2. Project Management as a discipline is applicable in many fields and industries, like construction, information technology, banking, transportation, telecommunication, manufacturing, or security.

3. For the construction industry, it is about development of the built environment, specifically the management of the value creation process and value management. This is different from facilities management, which is about the management of the created real estate – land, building infrastructure, equipment and fixtures – and how these are being used for the enjoyment of the users and occupants.

4. Traditionally, in the early years of the Singapore construction industry the role of the project manager was played by the lead consultant of the project – the Architect if the project was a building project, or the Engineer if the project is a civil engineering project. However, as projects began to get larger in scale and variety with a corresponding increase in complexity, it became necessary for role and function of project management to be a dedicated discipline in its own right.

5. Project Management services include integration and project scope management, the management of time, cost, quality and resources of the project, project procurement, risk and communication management and the management of project stakeholders (reference PMBOK Guide).

6. In the Singapore construction industry, there are generally three types of Project Managers (“PM”): PM for Developers, PM for Consultants and PM for Contractors. While the role of Project Managers may be similar, they represent different entities with different interests and therefore their scope of Project Management differs. All three types of PM can exist in one same project. Understanding the relationship and role difference and interest between them is important. Among themselves, there is need for collaboration.

7. There are many players from various disciplines involved in the delivery of a project. The architect is the designer of the building structure, providing the creative and aesthetic inputs while the civil and structural (and sometimes geotechnical) engineers and the mechanical and electrical (‘M&E’) engineers provide the design solution to the structural frame and stability and the M&E systems to enable the building facilities to function for comfort and safety. The quantity surveyor will hand the cost and contract aspects. In addition, there are stakeholders representing the owner and user whose requirements and expectations also need to be fulfilled. All the work of these varied disciplines need to be coordinated and the needs and expectations of stakeholders aligned. The role of the project manager is to engender not just coordination. He needs to achieve integration through collaboration, cooperation and coordination. Leadership and teamwork is key.

8. In Singapore, the Society of Project Managers (SPM) was formed in 1995 and is an association of about 450 professionals, with the aim of promoting and developing the science and art of project management. The SPM promotes sound managerial, technical and commercial practices relating to the project management profession with the view of raising the quality of professional practice, and does so by running an accreditation scheme for professional project managers.

9. As the audience was mostly from the legal profession, I shared with them some areas where Project Managers might require legal advice to fulfil their role. These include:

a. Project Risk Management

b. Instruments – contracts, insurances,

c. Strategic planning – legal landscape/condition

d. Organising people & works

e. Procurement – contract forms, provisions for protection & mitigation

f. Contract administrator

g. Defence – legal advice

10. I believe the participants found the sharing beneficial. I was heartened by the wide-ranging questions raised and the discussion that was generated.

11. The Construction Expertise 101 is a good and beneficial series to apprise SCL(S)’s members of the various and varied professional disciplines involved in the construction industry and in project delivery. Each one has his challenges and interests to represent. However, developing a thorough understanding of other professional roles which is important for collaboration in project delivery and for the legal professionals to make good provisions in contract structuring to minimize, if not avoid, conflicts and to engender more collaboration effective and productive project delivery.

Contributed by: Yip Kim Seng, 2nd Vice President, Society of Project Managers


Civil & Structural Engineer And Geotechnical Engineering Module

1. As available land space in Singapore is in ever shorter supply, more and more construction projects are venturing underground, where the dynamic and uncertain geology of Singapore can cause major problems and result in major claims – as evidenced by the Nicoll Highway collapse in 2004.

2. It was therefore apt that this year’s Civil Engineering module of the Construction Expertise 101 Workshop was led by two geotechnical engineers from Mott MacDonald – Andrew Forsythe and Gerardo Pittaro – who have worked on a wide variety of construction projects including many MRT stations, Changi Airport, and a wide range of tall buildings with deep basements and even deeper foundations.

3. The seminar covered various aspects of civil engineering, beginning with the history of the profession, where some early civil engineering projects were exhibited and discussed. The discussion then turned to the statutory obligations of civil engineers. The speakers took time to highlight the framework for civil engineering projects in Singapore during the design and construction phase; before moving on to the challenges faced on site. One such issue which was explored was that of underground construction in reclaimed land. The talk placed a clear emphasis on the geotechnical aspects of civil engineering work, as (particularly in the context of Singapore) it is in the ground where the greatest degree of uncertainty, and therefore the greatest risk, lies.

4. On the whole, the session was one which was mutually beneficial to the speakers and the delegates because it gave an overall idea of the obligations and challenges that geotechnical engineers face working underground in difficult geological conditions. It was felt that an increased level of collaboration between the legal and engineering communities would be valuable for resolving the challenges highlighted in the presentation.

Contributed by: Andrew Forsythe, Principal Engineering Geologist, Mott MacDonald & Gerardo Pittaro, Geotechnical Engineer, Mott MacDonald


Mechanical And Electrical Engineering Module

1. The presentation provided an overview of the work of Mechanical and Electrical (M&E) engineers in construction projects, with a strong focus on Singapore work. The presentation covered a range of topics including:

a. The history of the M&E professional in built environment work was reviewed, starting from the early 19th century.

b. The broad scope of M&E engineers work was surveyed:

i. M&E engineers operating within the buildings market engineer the air-conditioning, fire protection, lifts, lighting, plumbing, communication and other M&E systems that allow modern buildings to operate.

ii. M&E engineers operating in the Industrial market will commonly be engineering the piping, power and communication systems that regulate the operation of a manufacturing or process plant.

iii. The role of the Professional Engineers Board in regulating the work of Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and Chemical Professional Engineers, by setting and maintaining high standards for engineering registration and the issuance of annual practicing licences for both individuals and companies.

iv. The Engineers Code of Ethics was also explained. The code requires that engineers always act with prime regard to the public interest, supervise any engineering work for which they are certifying, avoid commercial conflicts of interest and confine their work to areas in which they are trained and experienced in a wide-ranging profession.

v. How M&E engineers typically work collaboratively in a multi-disciplinary team with the other design professionals to deliver a successful project.

vi. The engineering design process was outlined, including the establishment of project design criteria, the engineering digital model creation process and the use of BIM as an essential design and documentation tool.

vii. The work of M&E engineers in Singapore buildings and infrastructure projects must comply with the requirements of the Building Control Act and a range of Standards & Codes of Practice which are set by Technical Departments & Statutory Boards. A comprehensive technical submission and approval process administered by these agencies verifies that the engineering work conforms to the stipulated standards and codes. In a typical large commercial project, the M&E engineers will submit twenty or more individual submissions for approval of various elements of their work.

viii. Finally, how the M&E engineer supports the work of the contract administrator was explained, including their assessment of physical progress of work for progress claim assessment, reviewing of technical contract compliance matters as well as monitoring the works to confirm that the owner’s interests are properly served by the contractor.

2. The presentation attendees were well engaged with the material presented and raised a number of thoughtful questions relating to the work of legal and engineering professionals in Singapore and the challenges that they must regularly overcome.

3. These sessions are very important and SCL(S) is to be commended for organising them. It is only through a shared understanding of the work of all the parties in a construction project that architects, engineers and legal professionals can make informed decisions which result in the equitable and efficient delivery of construction projects to our clients.

Contributed by: Steve Perkins, Executive Director, Beca


Construction Programming Consulting Module

1. It is known that Construction Programming Consultants have walked among us for many years and at this run of the SCL Construction Expertise 101 course, we were honoured to be provided the opportunity to present ourselves at the Construction Programming Consultant Workshop.

2. While the nuts and bolts of what we do was not difficult to cover, the format for the content of our presentation did cause a moderate level of head-scratching. In particular, the subject of formal qualifications, professional associations, statutory obligations and the like.

3. The first part of our presentation was to deal with the issue of ‘What is a Construction Programming Consultant’. It is safe to say that Construction Programming Consultants do not have a formal professional institute or association so formal qualifications, statutory obligations, CPD and ethics are not directly applicable. However as many of us hold memberships to other professional institutes and associations, we hold ourselves accountable to those that we are affiliated to.

4. As to the history of Construction Programming Consultants, this was an iterative part of the presentation as it has been an evolving discipline more akin to management consulting and process improvement following the various developments brought about by industrial revolution to the advent of computing to present day technology.

5. The second part of our presentation allowed us to open the toolbox and display the wide array of tools and methodologies to explain what we do and how we do it. This again had to be handled with care as all too often we can spend an hour or more in what can only be best described as ‘speaking in tongues!’

6. That being said, it was necessary to dive into the software used and the outputs generated. This did allow for the presentation to become more graphics orientated by displaying slides that showcased the various outputs that describe the sequencing and arrangement of construction programmes. The norm is the bar chart display which, even for practitioners, is cumbersome. From the bar charts our presentation moved into the simpler and easier to digest staging diagrams, timelines, histograms and the like through to a short movie on 4D planning, which also allowed us a moment to take a breath.

7. In presenting and concluding this section, and the session, we hope that we were able to highlight some of the key takeaways that we have found to be the most common pitfalls in acting as Construction Programming Consultants. That being that the programme is only as good as the information it is based on, the risks involved, and the assumptions made.

8. The audience was engaged and even though our presentation took us through to the allotted time there were questions from the floor that extended the session.

9. We felt that the presentation was well received and the response was positive and appreciative.

Contributed by: Stuart Begbie, Director, Driver Trett & Trevor Lam, Head of Singapore, CTBH



All materials for which the speakers have given SCL(S) consent to make available to members can be viewed/downloaded from the SCL(S) website in the Members’ Only area under “Resources” (LOG-IN Required under "Members' Area" in the left column to proceed).

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