4th Project and Construction Management Congress, 3 – 5 November 2016
Anadolu University, Engineering Faculty, Civil Engineering Department


Why 'Construction Project Management' Should Be Part of the Academic Curriculum as an Individual Undergraduate Program?


         Ahmet Avinal

Avinal Software Consulting Construction Co., Architect, Istanbul

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“Construction Project Management” or “Project Management” as put in a broader sense is a concept of which the content has remained nearly unchanged for thousands of years.

Considering that the Management is conceptualized as a form of art and a field of science, stimulating a group of people towards a predefined goal, and ensuring division of labor and coordination among them can be considered as the art of management.

Scientific scope of the management on the other hand is referred to as completing the project within the most optimized budget in a most timely and quality manner while combining the most efficient use of time, money, labor, machineryi and equipment, which is the ultimate goal of the project management.

The purpose of the project management has remained the same while the tools and their methodology evolve constantly. Technology in today's world has brought in the “Construction Management” practicality rather than knowledge and skills.

Today, “Construction Project Management” is a field of science on its own which has an inclusive content of technology and information that cannot be effectively defined with the 'Project Management Body of Knowledge – PMBOK' nor confined with the title of 'Project Management Professional, PMP'.

It is indeed necessary to include the 'Construction Project Management' in the academic curriculum as an individual 4-year undergraduate program (5.Discipline) in today's world where BIM technologies and solutions, ERP software, CLOUD sharing platforms, and 5D, 6D, and 7D project management concepts are often discussed.

As a 1972 METU graduate, a professional in construction industry as well as an academic who has conducted studies, an ERP software builder, and a developper, I intend to analyze the subject in greater detail and to contribute in featuring the necessity I have mentioned above in the “Construction Project Management” agenda.


Keywords: BIM, 5D Construction Project Management, ERP



I am a professional who has been acting in construction industry and has shouldered a great number of responsibilities including construction site engineer, technical office engineer, project manager, contractor, consultant, and academic since 1972.

In 1991, I built one of the first professional “Proposal-Estimation-Progress Payments” software packages in the construction industry which has reached the extent of an ERP software.

I delivered system-related and consulting services for contractor companies operating in 12 countries across the globe.

During this half-century timeline as the owner of a renowned professional software, I had the opportunity to meet thousands of construction firms and to interact with tens of thousands of technical staff.

Glancing over the current situation in Turkey, it is obvious that Turkish companies, which rank in the 2nd place on a global scale, operate within the “Chain of Command”, leaving the “Construction Project Management” as “leading and managing subcontractors” rather than a field of science. In other words, it is conducted as an “art of management.”

Data sharing within the company or a proper corporate memory do not exist. Almost all employees work on “Excel” pages which act as their personal database. Work Schedules are dysfunctional. They are created as a contractual obligation, and they do not reflect on the current status or the reality.

Today (2016), “Construction Project Management” is clearly integrated with the BIM, ERP, CRM and Document Management. In 2000s, these applications have become essential in today's technology in a way that they expose the working environment in companies to the common use, and maximize information and data sharing.

They require infrastructure and a set of values which need to be passed down to all professionals in the construction industry through academia.

In today's world, looking at the basic formations related to construction industry, including architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and electric engineering, it is explicit that the academic curriculum has not yet included courses fitting the infrastructure required by these subjects (BIM; ERP, CRM, and Document Management).

Alumni of these degree programs have almost no knowledge on the “Construction Project Management.” Their perceptions are limited to visual experiences that they obtain during internships which do not have any methodology or relevant informative value of any kind.

If we observe how the contractors consultants and subcontractors work, which are the principle actors in the construction sector, we see that they use 2D CAD software packages in project                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       design. Unaware of the applications of BIM, ERP, CRM, and Document Management required by the “Construction Project Management”, they use Excel application at each phase for all data types.

A limited number of universities add “Construction Management” master's studies of which the academic curriculum falls short in terms of BIM, ERP, CRM, and Document Management subjects.

Another mistake in “Construction Project Management” master's programs is that students graduating from undergradute programs move on to complete their master's studies without gaining any professional experience.

It is indeed necessary obligatory that technical staff of the 'Construction Project Management' are trained with an individual discipline and a domain of engineering in today's world where BIM standards, technologies and solutions, ERP software, CLOUD sharing platforms, and 5D, 6D, and 7D project management concepts are often discussed.

During the undergraduate studies of this discipline, which I will describe as “Technical Office Engineer”, students must receive a technical formation so that they understand basic studies and terminology of other four disciplines.

In addition, in parallel with today's technology, they should take BIM formation, technical office and finance classes in a way that they comprehend planning and details of the functions at each phase of the construction sector-specific ERP.

In order to fully understand the reasons behind the necessity of considering the “Construction Project Management” as an individual undergraduate program, we should;

a- Understand the extent to which today's technologies contribute to this concept and make a comparison

b- Interrogate the level at which the actors in construction sector are able to benefit this technology and the reasons behind it

c- Understand the extent to which undergradute studies of Architecture, Civil Engineering, Electric Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, which are the basic studies in the construction sector, intersect with the content of “Construction Project Management”

d- Assess and improve the current situation and content of “Consulting” in the construction sector.

Impact of today's technology on the Phases of “Construction Project Management”


Today's technology has brought in practicality 'i.e. Do-How.' to “Construction Management” rather than “Know-How.”


Construction projects consist of six phases. These are: Feasibility – Project Design – Preparation – Planning – Execution & Realization – Measurement, Evaluation and Conclusion.”


Construction management has 9 basic elements. These are: Integration Management, Scope Management, Time Management, Cost Management, Quality Management, Human Resources Management, Communication Management, Risk Management, and Supply Management. Using ERP + BIM + Document Management tools and technologies, we can visualize, update, control, share and report all of these processes.

ERP is a tool that needs to exist in all phases of the Construction Project Management.


ERP is an essential tool of the Management practice which, in today's technology, has brought in practicality 'i.e. Do-How.' to “Construction Management” rather than knowledge and skills 'i.e. Know-How.”

When it comes to Construction Projects, we should divide the concept of ERP into two headings: Sectoral ERP - Corporate ERP.
Construction Projects have unique content. Each construction site has different characteristics and content. Therefore, they do not have a common structure that can be consolidated within Corporate ERP content. Just as you cannot use a corporate ERP like SAP or IFS in an industry such as hotels or banking, in the construction sector, you also need to use an ERP that is specifically tailored to the sector. Of course, when there is a Holding structure, the integration of this Sectoral ERP with Corporate ERP should also be provided. And this is very easy. All programs have "Input and Output" in Excel format.


A construction firm should be able to perform these phases, while utilizing the data required to be recorded within a common database.


This can be achieved by keeping and appraising all data including project, quantities, analysis, unit price, proposal, progress payment, cost accounting, fixtures, scoring, stock, checking account, procurement plan, payment plan, time schedule, budget, cash flow statements, and profit-loss accounts in a format that is consistent with the system and by conveying them to the necessary points in a format that is tailored for the presentation. Avinal, A (2012)

I believe that none of the actors in the construction sector can deny the fact that ERP is necessary and an indispensable tool enabling users to have a command of the scientific content of the “Construction Project Management.”


BIM during Project Design Phase:


Architectural project, static project, installation project, power application project serve as technical application data of design, equipment and systems of the work. They describe manufacturing details, dimensions, sites and any technical application data required.

We drew these projects by hand pre-1980 and by using 2D CAD technologies between 1980 and 2000. Today, we are able to create them as 3D drawings on computer.

Starting with the 2000s, where the technology enabling the BIM phenomenon was born, digital and visualizable data which can be obtained during the project design phase has offered an opportunity for faster control and management of the content of “Construction Project Management.”


Global Context Today 


2000s marked the birth of BIM (Building Information Modeling) concept, which was first depicted by Autodest in 2002.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) refers to a digital representation of physical and functional features of a facility. BIM aims at using graphic and non-graphic qualitative data together. Qualitative data includes material's name, coefficient of permeability, and technical descriptions.

As soon as the technologic developments were able to allow an integrated project environment and joint working platform in 3D software, it became obligatory to create interdisciplinary data exchange standards.

Building Smart in Canada (http://www.buildingsmart-tech.org/), presents the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) standard which is the interdisciplinary data exchange standard in BIM solutions. Thanks to this standard, engineering disciplines which are stakeholders in projects, are able to work together on a joint platform. 

This standard frees project disciplines from brands. Stakeholder engineering disciplines do not have to run on same-brand software. If the architect prefers working with Allplan, static projects are solved with Tekla, mechanical office chooses Revit MEP, and the group working on power uses a different BIM solution, with this data exchange standard IFC, we can consolidate and view this data on a common model.

The main data, which all parties should use in common, is typically yhe 3D model of structural base of the project.

In project designing of the disciplines related to mechanics and electricity, we primarily need functional and volumetric data of architectural sites, qualities of some objects, and 3D models of structural elements of the building. In every phase of project design, all the disciplines, thanks to the data exchange on the IFC format, are able to test the conflict control on their own solution packages or CLOUD sharing platforms, which in turn facilitate making their revisions based on this final situation. 

It is considered that the most essential function of BIM is being able to offer an integrated working platform between all engineering disciplines, which are the project shareholders. When it is taken account that more than twenty specialists may be required to work in major projects, BIM's importance is better understood.

Once the BIM-based studies were adopted, Building Information Modelling started to be accepted as a cultural change in the construction sector on a global scale.

Today, these standards have become mandatory thanks to the regulations with BIM content made in manu countries around the world including USA, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Singapore, Korea, and United Kingdom.

European Union Public Procurement Legislation dated 15 January 2014 suggest that the use of BIM in the public financed building projects should be mandatory by 2016.


How Can We Succeed in BIM Applications


Countries need to overcome some of the fundamental problems in order to succeed in BIM applications.

1** Products (items) used in construction projects are one of the essential elements for projects. For a mutual understanding in BIM projects, all manufacturing unit price logs should be made available in a mutual coding system.

The CSI (Construction Spesification Institute) coding system in Canada is a good example. Established in 1949 with a similar purpose, this institute has a wide range of users around the world. The mutual coding system provides great advantage in communication between all stakeholders of a project, and understanding of activities, time schedules and reports in other phases.

We cannot talk about a mutual language of understanding a project without creating a mutual coding library in BIM projects. This is one of the most essential requirements in ERP solutions within construction sector.

In CSI coding system, all manufacturing processes and products are sorted with the following coding system.(www.csinet.org/numbersandtitles)  In unit price item logs or project manufacturing items of your company, you can define your own product item by inserting a point after these 6 characters.

If you don't have a coding system using a similar methodology, project stakeholders cannot read and understand BIM data, nor create the accurate data communication algorithm which should be available between all modules in an ERP solution, which is in turn an indispensable tool of the “Construction Project Management.”

BIM in “Construction Project Management” ERP tool is an expression of the “Project Design” phase in today's technology.

Product codes to be created are essential elements of your unit price logs, analysis logs, estimation studies, resources of your planning activities, stock coding processes and reports of all modules.

2** Manufacturing firms operating in construction sector need to create 3D modellings to be used in BIM projects and items to be used in this mutual coding system, based on objective and qualitative features of their products.

Only when these circumstances are met, BIM can avail in its true functions, and ERP systems can operate smoothly. This coding system is the most essential element of the language between stakeholders in the construction sector. 


Overall Situation Concerning BIM in Turkey Today


Many of Architects and Engineers in Turkey are not informed about the (BIM Building Information Modelling).

In a wide percentage, construction projects are created by using 2D CAD. Since the public sector is not aware of the BIM either, there is no attempt to come up with a regulation.As you can see, universities take a huge responsibility on this matter.

BIM + ERP During Preparation Phase


Preparation Phase is the phase where an Investor conducts estimation studies to determine the “cost of the project” and a contractor prepares an offer to find out the “sales price of the project.” Offer and estimation are two elements of the preparation phase that have similar content.

Estimation studies should be conducted by the consulting company on behalf of the investor and by the technical office department on behalf of the contractor.

All the works carried out in this phase can be defined as the “Master Plan.” Each project needs to start with the right quantity survey and the right “Master Plan.”

BIM modelling for the purpose of quantity survey is different than the BIM operations in project designing in other engineering disciplines. The purpose here is to access the right information of addresses (construction diary) for the right quantity survey and manufacturing.

Master Plan is a preliminary feasibility study, including a building scenario, where goals of the project are described, and monetary, quantitative and temporary values of all resources (material, equipment, subcontractor, labor) required to achieve these goals are determined.

Unfortunately, Turkish Contractors and Consulting Firms have not yet started using the data sharing system ERP, all the works are carried out in “Excel” charts which leads to the absence of a high culture.

Same problem is observed in a few number of companies having the habit of preparing a Master Plan. Since they do not possess an ERP system with “Construction Project Management” content, due to inadequacy on working with a “Work Schedule” and making “Measurement & Evaluation”, “Master Plans” prepared are left on paper and unable to reflect the real situation because they are not updated in every phase.

As in the Work Schedules, Master Plans should be living organisms. Outdated information and data have no value. In this case, we do not talk about a “Construction Project Management”, but a “Leading and Managing a Construction” which is performed carelessly.

Can we say that basic formation of architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and electric engineering disciplines, which are the main actors of construction sector, complies with today's technology and conditions?

Or is it wrong to consider that the “Construction Management”, which became a standalone science with today's technology, should be an individual engineering discipline?

Is it also wrong to say that lack of formation which complies with today's technology and conditions in universities is the reason behind these problems and inadequacies in the sector?


ERP + BIM in Planning Phase


This is the phase where the 4th dimension of the project – time – is determined, unknown values about the project are minimized, and master plan is completed.


Planning is one of the building blocks of “Construction Project Management.” If we compare the project management methodology to stone arches, we can say that planning is the keystone that holds the arch upright.


In case of lack of “Time” data, which is the 4th dimension of a 5D project management, you may experience problems in;


-Supply Management, material procurement plan, creating a payment plan,

-Ensuring the balance between income and expenses within the budget,

-Providing resource planning, team optimization.


If you do not advise teams to perform the right activities and right manufacturing via work orders that comply with the Work Schedule;

-Activities and manufacturing processes will not be conducted in the order which they find the easiest, rather than in the critical activity order and organization, which is a requirement. This lack of coordination will lead to huge setbacks and cost increases in the work.

I would like to emphasize that conducting the Project in line with the daily work orders is one of the requirements in the construction project management science.

The most important aspect of the Construction Project Management is the right planning. Planning in a project requires;

Teams responsible in the project acting daily or weekly work orders obtained from the CPM software,

Updating the CPM software regularly with the actualization data on the works carried out and realizing manufacturing based on this planning.


Perception and Situation of Planning Today


Planning and working in compliance with the work schedule are the most important and yet the weakest aspects of the construction sector. Having a habit of preparing a work schedule is close to “ZERO”.

As per the Specifications, we have planning specialists in our construction site. What is a Work Schedule? Why should it be prepared, what good does it have on us? How is it followed up? How is it updated? What is the benefits? We do not have answer to these questions and we try to implement planning as a mandatory operation which is required by the specifications.

Here is why;


1- Lack of formation on the details and extent of work schedules and on how should the technology be,

2- Many project applications do not have a requirement,

3- In public sector, “Bar Charts” drawn on “Excel” are considered as work schedule,

4- The sector is not familiar with the ERP applications and does not comprehen great advantages of data sharing and data communications,

5- Lack of information and formation.


The Reason Behind Weak Planning


The main reason why Work Schedule applications are insufficient in Construction Projects is that there are so many data to be submitted within the CPM software and difficulties in updating this data in every modification.

We can say that the main reason of weak planning is the inability of building it with the necessary and accurate data.

In fact, necessary data in CPM software is embedded in the estimation, which is an indispensable part of the work. By means of an algorithm and an adequate software, exporting this data to the CPM software will solve the burden of data entry and leave the planning professional with his/her real job.

It is of great importance and an absolute must of having an algorithmic solution which will enable transfer of data, based on the fact that estimation and CPM software need to have the same data in different format within an ERP methodology that is specific to construction sector. Avinal, A (2009-1)

In an international construction conference in 2009, I presented a study entitled “A Solution on Creating An Estimation Transfer Algorithm to CPM Software in “Construction Management” ERP Software Packages”. You can find the article here: http://www.avinal.com/index.php/tr/20090521-citc-v


Formation of Planning Technical Personnel


CPM management became mandatory in almost all the projects in USA in 1960s. Because of its non-mandatory nature and lack of formation in our country, it is considered as a set of skills gained after training and a tool for personal uses, rather than a de facto application.

Planning needs to be defined as an area of expertise, able to be graded and have an adequate formation accordingly. The “planning” concept is the building stone of the construction management. Level of expertise of a technical personnel, who is trained and experienced in this domain, should be able to be described.Avinal, A (2009-2)

In an international construction conference in 2009, I presented a study which you can find at: http://www.avinal.com/index.php/tr/20090520-citc-v



Consequences of the Lack of Technical Office Engineering Discipline



During my career of half-century, I have contacted thousands of contractors. However not so many of them lasted over 20 years in this sector.

The reason behind this is that they are not aware of scientific content of the “Construction Project Management”. Rather, management is considered simply as leading and managing subcontractors.

One sad part of this is the difficulties that thousands of subcontractors and their employees have faced because they were forced to go bankrupt due to these contractors who went bankrupt as well.

Many of the technical responsibilities, which should be assumed by consulting firms and public inspection offices, cannot be performed properly in a controlled manner due to the inadequacies in the formation infrastructure.

We observe that majority of the technical sevices which should be undertaken on behalf of the investor are handed to other stakeholders, because it is easier to do so. Here are some of the examples.


** Project owners should not be responsible of creating estimation files. Their job includes describing technical content but preparing estimation for the tender is the consultant's reponsibility. In current practice, project owners are expected to perform this duty. The responsibility of evaluating quantitative and monetary content, and market alternatives in accordance with the technical content should not be assumed by project owners.


Project disciplines are not expert on preparing estimation for tenders and this is not their job.

** In developing projects, the consultant is responsible of ensuring coordination between the projects, and following execution of the project within its budget.

** The consultant is responsible of preparing estimation, preliminary budget, and master plan in bidding process.


Current practice typically involves handing over the estimations prepared by project owners and comparing the incoming data. This results in incomprehensible “Excel” files, combining data coming from 4 different disciplines in 4 different formats, with no methodology whatsoever.

** In execution phase, progress payments as a result of measurement and evaluation is the consultant's responsibility.


In practice, this is expected from the contractor while consultants prefer checking and correcting the data if necessary. In fact, preparing progress payments is the responsibility of the consultant or inspection office while the contractor is responsible of stating objections to the progress payments in writing and accept them.


** In planning, determining infrastructure of work schedule and activity details is the consultant's responsibility while building this structure is left with the contractor.

** Consultant is also responsible of evaluating the man/hour data obtained in measurement and evaluation and the accuracy of the work schedule. 

** Consulting firms generally takes care of contracts, communications and quality management rather than the technical works with “monetary + quantitative + temporal” content. 

If you do not have the technology and tools which will posses monetary, quantitative, temporal, and technical content, which means you don't have a sectoral ERP, you will not be able to;


  • M-     - Measure risk
    - Manage time accurately
    - Manage resources accurately
    - Manage scope accurately 


Another form of tender preferred by the investors in Turkey is not awarding the tender to a single contractor but decentralizing it among multiple subcontractors.

In this case, the consultant is left with more technical responsibilities where they almost assume the identity of contractor and have a lot of work to do in execution of the project such as,

  • S- Supply Management
  • C- Cost Management.


In conclusion;


The construction sector has grown in terms of technology, building sizes and diversity, compared to pre-2000s. This way, technical expertises needed have diversified greatly.

Scope and content of “Construction Project Management” formation has changed dramatically because of the communications and data sharing tools (BIM, ERP, Document Management tools, CRM, Cloud Forests) bestowed upon us by today's technology.

This technologic advances allow us to have more understanding on the scientific content of the “Construction Project Management”. And technology continues to develop at an incredible pace.

Today, we have the advantages of being able to perform all required functions and duties more easily in all the phases of “Construction Project Management”.

Earl Wilson once said, “If what you did yesterday still looks big to youyou haven't done much today,” and to me, this is the quote that best describes what today's and tomorrow's philosophy should be in the education spheres.

This technology of 2000s naturally require changes in old habits and working methods for all stakeholders in the construction sector.

Academia also needs to incorporate courses and applications which follow today's technologies in undergraduate level of architecture and engineering disciplines, which are the main actors of the construction sector.

It cannot be that technical personnel becomes expert as technical office engineers with a 1- or 2-week trainings.

Technical personnel of “Construction Project Management” are now required to receive formation in an individual engineering discipline program.

This discipline, which I will call “Technical Office Engineer”, has to incorporate BIM formation to understand basic functions and terminology of other four disciplines and courses with technical office content which will help students to have a grasp of planning and details of functions of the sector-specific ERP in all phases.

Responsibility of this 5.Discipline mainly includes follow-up and execution of the “Quantitative + Monetary + Temporal” works.