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Implementation of monitoring and evaluation systems in the Ghanaian construction industry

This section considers the M&E system implementation in the Ghanaian construction industry which is aimed at achieving project objectives such as ensuring quality of the projects and their delivery within the allocated time and budget. Other targets of M&E implementation on projects include ensuring that the project activities and the project outcome are satisfactory and impact positively on the beneficiary community. In the Ghanaian construction industry, to guarantee that M&E of the projects results in achieving project quality, cost and time, activities such as constantly undertaking project supervision from inception to completed and ready to be handed over; thus, site visits and inspection, certifying project quality, progress reporting and periodic site meetings are important. Three key M&E activities, namely site visit and inpection (supervision), meetings and reporting are discussed in the ensuing sections.

Site visit and inspection (supervision)

Site visit and inspection are vital in project implementation undertaken either at the request of the contractor to resolve some challenges (Wong, 2005) or as a scheduled activity for the project. M&E requires stakeholders, particularly the project consultants, project implementation units or agencies such as the MMDAs and the clients (donors/financiers) to visit project sites to observe the progress and conformity to agreed conditions, the contract and the works. It is however imperative that during such site visits and inspections, any instruction given at the site that seeks to influence the scope, cost and quality of the project is to be issued through the designated consultant rather than the project consultant or his representative. The client and project implementation unit or agency report on their observations to the consultant for redress with the contractor. This is to ensure that all key stakeholders’ interest is incorporated to ensure satisfaction. The consultant, on considering the challenges and the volume of the task involved in the project, may station a clerk of works on the project to ensure their representation on the project is constant to facilitate effective project M&E. The inspection on the project affords the M&E team to reveal the bottlenecks and challenges in the project. Methods of construction, material specification and workmanship are brought under strict scrutiny. During the inspection, certain quality standardsare confirmed through laboratory tests such as the concrete cube test while other tests are conveniently conducted at the site. The consultant also issues instructions during site visits and inspections to enforce compliance with specifications and change orders (variations) to some part of the work which may or may not have cost implications.

Site meeting

Site meetings are organized with the main aim of ensuring the smooth implementation of a construction project to meet specific project targets. Gorse and Emmitt (2009) acknowledge the importance of progress meetings. During M&E, an opportunity is provided to bring together all the parties (stakeholders) to the project to a meeting where project implementation challenges and successes are discussed. This ensures the relationship with project stakeholders is maintained and sustained for effective project delivery (Gorse & Emmitt, 2003). Oke, Mavimbele and Aigbavboa (2016) postulate that site meetings stand out as the oldest as well as current means of dealing with problems stemming from construction projects and enforcing the acceptable standard (project spécifications). These scheduled meetings may be an agreed periodic meeting with some intermittent emergency meetings. Before such site meetings which are usually organized at the project site office, stakeholders visit and inspect the project. The contractor presents his revised works programme and progress report highlighting lags in the programme and measures to mitigate such a programme. The cash flow position on the project, the physical progress against expected progress and similar issues are reviewed to ascertain whether the project is progressing within budget and cost while quality reports from laboratory tests are presented for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Several decisions are made in respect of how to address all the challenges on the project and to ensure delivery of the project to the project specifications. Stakeholders are empowered; they become more aware of the state of the project and have a feeling of ownership of the project. Hence, the capacities of stakeholders on M&E are enhanced. Further, Oke et al. (2016) maintain that site meetings help in enforcing project quality standards such as developing a project quality control plan, assessing workmanship during construction, increasing communication in the construction team and assessing the specification used. Potential disputes and claims that may arise are prevented (Love et al., 2010).

Progress reporting

Projects fail for several reasons. As opined by KPMG (2014), a key consideration for project success, yet one that is difficult to undertake, is effective project reporting. Project reporting involves communicating information regarding the duration of project time utilized, the quality level of the project and the cash flow status of the project against the planned targets. Resources available at the site (material and labour) are reported as well as the physical volume of

A review of the Ghanaian construction 167 work done. Reporting M&E findings (progress) to key stakeholders is therefore critical. The M&E team, most likely led by the project consultant/manager, reports project progress and findings to all key stakeholders to the project, particularly project donors and clients. This is to ensure observations made during the site visit and inspection and agreed decisions at site meetings and site instructions regarding the modification to the project are communicated officially to all parties to the project.

Construction projects generate enormous amounts of information (Fong & Chu, 2006) and therefore it is necessary to process, store and disseminate such information to all parties involved in the project. However, systems employed in reporting progress have been sporadic in the construction industry. According to Craig and Sommerville (2006), storage, disseminating and managing of project information stop with each of the individual project team members involved in the project. Thus, the quantity surveyors keep to themselves the cost data information generated by them on the project while the architects and the engineers alone hold the architectural and structural design information. Participatory M&E facilitates progress reporting which is anchored in the learning and improvement of project delivery, meeting reporting requirements of donor agencies and also in facilitating knowledge management on project delivery.

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