The reality of cost engineering worldwide

The text below is a summary of the introduction given by me as member of the panel n. 3, “Reality of Cost Engineering Worldwide” at the World Congress of the International Cost Engineering Council in Rio de Janeiro, October 2016

 

The structure of our profession is quite different in different parts of the world, albeit with a strong common ground. As a matter of fact, we start finding difference at the entry level, when people is being authorized to act as professional: in Latin countries, the authorization in granted through a vertical, top down procedure, by a higher authority, normally through a mixed committee, academic and professional, while in English speaking countries, the authorization comes through a horizontal procedure, that it’s basically an acceptance by the peers.

A lot of mixed schemas, that are now the majority, take characteristics from both methods.

 

There are several cooperating professions in engineering and construction, such as Project Managers, Project Controllers (the boundary between management and controls is not completely defined in several countries), Cost Engineers (the term cost engineer is difficult to understand in some countries, they are confused with accountants), Cost Managers, Total Cost Managers, Project Cost Managers, Construction Economists, Risk Analysts, Quantity surveyors (whose competencies in Italy are distributed among other professions).

In reality, all of them are part of the “project profession”, that has not yet been neither defined nor recognized.

 

The very concept of project is changing horizontally and vertically, horizontally extending thorough the whole life cycle of a project and vertically from project and multi-project to programme, portfolio and, why not, meta-project. As far as project controls are concerned, this reflect in project controls made on behalf of a general contractor, that is where project controls was born, or on behalf of the owner, albeit commonly called project monitoring, or on behalf of stakeholders and third parties, that is project auditing.

 

A strong joint effort is needed, the project profession as a whole can have a strong voice, while the single professions are neglected. In the same way, the lawyers are actually civil, criminal or administrative lawyers, but they can speak with a single voice as lawyers; the medical profession includes for surgeons, neurologists, dentists and so on, but it’s recognized as a whole as medical profession. We are not recognized as a single profession, and this is why we are weak.

 

Other point to be work on them are certification, that has to be normalized, creating a common method to compare levels and semantics, by completing and updating the glossary prepared by the former French association AFITEP and included in the standards of AFNOR in year 2000.

 

To reach those goals, there is a need of a strict cooperation among our professional associations, respecting the various identities and without trying to encapsulate each other. Unfortunately, after thirty years of globalization, we are shifting again toward localism and particularism, this does not help.

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