Project Management Institute

The new ASEAN tiger


The €400 million Louvre Abu Dhabi and the US$800 million Guggenheim Abu Dhabi are central components of the UAE government's planned “cultural district” on Saadiyat Island.

our Trustee Building Committee to review problems, solutions and changes,” explains project director Bill Maloney. “We've tried to make them feel part of the project so they'd take ownership of it.”

The project's greatest challenge so far was Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which threatened its schedule. Fortunately, construction was not very far along, so site damage was minimal and the project team was able to quickly get back on schedule. But the design was altered to mitigate future storm risks.

“We added a year's worth of work, in terms of flood mitigation, but we didn't lose a day,” says Mr. Maloney, attributing the achievement to generous budgeting and creative management of the flood mitigation process.

Once the new Whitney Museum opens, he adds, any lingering questions about the project's increased budget will be forgotten. “Within a very short time, people will forget what it cost. It will be all about the art.” —Matt Alderton


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) collective economy is booming—and project management practices across the 10-country region are maturing in an increasingly complex project landscape. With a combined GDP of US$2.4 trillion in 2013, the region—which includes wealthy Singapore and impoverished Myanmar, as well as large emerging economies like Indonesia and the Philippines—is already a key player in the global economy. Fueled by maturing regional supply chains and major infrastructure and urban development projects, ASEAN is projected to become the world's fourth-largest economy by 2050.

As the area's economy grows, project managers are facing new challenges, says Singapore-based William Yong, vice president and managing director for Black & Veatch's water business in Southeast Asia. “With the emergence of new technologies and the maturation of suppliers from developing markets, procurement options are evolving,” he says. “Seasoned project managers in the water sector must be familiar with safety, project planning, cost control and the quality systems expected of world-class projects.”

Yet many organizations have been slow to adapt their project management processes, says Shazlee Rosli, PMP, PMO lead at oil and gas company Petronas ICT, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “Project management practices here mature slowly compared to Europe or North America. They're improving, but not with sufficient speed,” Shazlee says. “People are too comfortable continuing in the same way.”


“Project management practices here mature slowly compared to Europe or North America. They're improving, but not with sufficient speed. People are too comfortable continuing in the same way.”

—Shazlee Rosli, PMP, Petronas ICT, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



There's an app for that. And that. And that. But the explosion of cloudbased offerings might be cutting down on employee productivity.

According to a June study by Osterman Research and Intermedia, small and mediumsized businesses use an average of 14.3 cloudbased apps. Employees use 5.5 apps during the course of their workdays.

With so many applications to maintain, the survey found, project teams spend an unexpected amount of time juggling passwords and troubleshooting accounts. IT departments also dedicate time and manpower to managing subscriptions, renewals, devices and product training.

That loss of productivity comes at a monetary cost to organizations—about $15 per employee per month, the study found.

“Forcing employees to use lots of different applications with inconsistent user experiences is a significant time sink,” Ben Kepes, director of Diversity Limited in Christchurch, New Zealand, wrote in Forbes.

While there's no easy solution at hand, Mr. Kepes says curating which apps teams use could help project managers keep them from sinking too much time into the cloud.
—Andrew McKernan

That's a problem, because static skills can put a project at risk in a rapidly changing environment. As portfolios broaden, failing to integrate standards and observe best practices can often lead to project delays and cost overruns, Shazlee says. “Rarely do we see the project management team plan as they should for a complex or large-scale project Often the project team will get stuck somewhere during the final sign-off trying to figure out how to deal with an incomplete deliverable without incurring any additional cost.”


“Already we are seeing large-scale projects divided into more digestible scopes, or two or more similar projects delivered in parallel.”

—William Yong, Black & Veatch, Singapore

Avoiding such problems while executing large-scale infrastructure projects is particularly important in ASEAN countries, since they lay the foundation for future growth. Indonesia, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the region's GDP, is focusing on transportation: The country plans to begin building eight seaports, two airports, five power plants and 11 water treatment facilities by 2017. But things aren't going entirely as planned. The 727-kilometer (452-mile) Trans-Java double-track railway project, for instance, faced multiple delays due to land acquisition and stakeholder management problems. The northern portion of the IDR10.5-trillion project aiming to decrease road congestion and travel times on the island of Java opened this year more than six months late.


Southeast Asia's increasingly integrated economies are surging. Here are five major construction projects moving ASEAN nations forward.

img SINGAPORE: Jurong Rock Caverns

The Jurong Rock Caverns project will free up roughly 150 acres (61 hectares) in the land-hungry city-state by building a liquid hydrocarbon storage facility 130 meters (427 feet) below ground. The first phase of the seven-year, SGD890 million project will create 1.5 million cubic meters (53 million cubic feet) of storage capacity when finished later this year.

img THAILAND: Central Embassy mall

Retail giant Central Group is trying to position Bangkok as a luxury shopping destination with this project, which was completed in May. The THB1.8 billion mall located in the heart of Bangkok's commercial district brings several upscale global brands to Thailand for the first time.


img MALAYSIA: RAPID refinery

The Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project will be located within a complex larger than 6,000 acres (2,428 hectares) and will process 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Launched in May 2012, the US$16 billion project could help transform Malaysia's Johor state into a regional petrochemical hub when completed in early 2019.


The Manila Bay Resorts will be the third resort and casino in the Entertainment City Manila project in the Philippines.

img INDONESIA: Tanjung Priok expansion

One of the largest public-sector projects underway in Indonesia is an expansion of the country's busiest port. Tanjung Priok, which handles more than half of Indonesia's imports and exports, is overburdened. The multiphase US$4 billion project launched in March 2013 includes the construction of three new terminals. When complete in 2023, it will triple the port's annual shipping capacity.

img THE PHILIPPINES: Entertainment City Manila

This nine-year project begun in 2008 aims to position the Philippines as a vacation getaway, rivaling classic tourist destinations like Las Vegas, Nevada, USA and Monte Carlo, Monaco. Located on 100 hectares (247 acres) of reclaimed land on Manila Bay, the US$5 billion project will include four casino resorts (the first of which opened in March 2013), condos, amusement parks, theaters, conference facilities and sports stadiums when complete in 2017.

With so many major projects in the works across ASEAN member countries, leading organizations are looking to move beyond traditional project management routines, Mr. Yong says.

“We expect to see more approaches emerging to derive schedule advantages from packaging out smaller scopes of work in parallel,” he says. “Already we are seeing large-scale projects divided into more digestible scopes, or two or more similar projects delivered in parallel to take advantage of common design, cost control or procurement opportunities during the delivery.”

Organizations looking to deliver projects through these kinds of flexible approaches, however, are challenged by a shortage of qualified talent, Mr. Yong says. “There is generally a shortfall of well-rounded project managers around the ASEAN region, especially when you consider the scale of infrastructure projects under development,” he says.

Part of the solution to the project management skills shortage may lie in ASEAN's goal of fully integrating the region into one economy, allowing the free movement of goods, services and skilled labor. The area's countries have committed to form the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. As part of the AEC, member nations would cooperate to develop human resources and recognize professional qualifications across borders, among other things.

This type of collaboration will allow successful project management models to rise to the top as project teams learn from the successes and failures of others, Shazlee says. “Seeing what should and shouldn't be done can help project leaders increase the likelihood of success and overcome common difficulties,” he says. “It will also reduce disparities in project management practices across the region.” —Tegan Jones

Fueled by maturing regional supply chains and major infrastructure and urban development projects, ASEAN is projected to become the world's fourth-largest economy by 2050.

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