Aligning AEC Projects with Corporate Strategy – Project Governance as a Mean for Strategic Effect

Guest Speaker:
Prof Dr Hallgrim Hjelmbrekke (Senior Consultant, Multiconsult ASA; Researcher, Concept Research Programme, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
Ms Noor Azeyah (School of Built Environment, University of Reading Malaysia)
Subject Area:
Built Environment
Date & Time:
Wed, 21. March 2018, 11:00 h - 12:00 h
N3.24, University of Reading Malaysia - EduCity@Iskandar​


In general, any investment in a new project is made in order to solve a problem, to change something into a more preferable situation and, in the end, to harvest the benefits.

According international research, projects in general tends not to deliver the intended benefits. This seems also to be valid in the Norwegian AEC-industry. Characteristics of projects are of a lack of productivity, budget overruns, defects on the final products and dissatisfied users generating a tail of legal proceedings. Together, these factors indicate that the projects´ intended value for users and benefits for the owner frequently gets lost along the way in construction project processes. 

The intuitive understanding of these challenges, guiding the research presented, has been that all of those involved, including owners/clients, project suppliers and users, appear to lack what the author denominates as a holistic approach to their business activities.

The main question governing this work has been how AEC-projects can be better aligned to business strategies from an owner perspective.

The main findings and conclusion of this study are:

The discrepancy between the general needs of the organization and the projects carried out to improve performance consists mainly of a lack of project objectives grounded in general strategy, a lack of alignment between clients and suppliers, a lack of understanding of success (project management success vs. project success), and a lack of project strategy definition.

The fundamental reasons underlying these challenges are a lack of competence on the owner side, a lack of competence on the supplier side, and a lack of competence on measuring probability for project success. In order to address these challenges a generic model for project governance is developed. The model identifies deviations between the clients strategic goals and project deliveries, the underlying reasons for this, and proposes four key measures to improve project governance.   

The research reveals a poor comprehension of the business context of projects within architectural and engineering companies. Implications for improved practice: Architecture and engineering companies need to create and deliver value, and a good starting point is to work more intensively with the client’s business objectives and to understand the causal relationship between design and the client’s benefits. More research should focus on the preparatory project management practices – e.g. the strategic approach to project success.


Hallgrim Hjelmbrekke has extensive experience from various businesses, including construction companies, real estate companies and consultancy engineering. He has been associated with Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) as a researcher and university lecturer. In addition, he has also been a project- and design manager in a number of major projects through his activities in Veidekke, Heimdal Development Company, Rambøll and now in Multiconsult. These include significant and larger projects such as Nedre Elvehavn 1 (Trondheim), Nidelven Terrasse (Trondheim), development of the Nobø area (Trondheim), Scandic Nidelven (Trondheim), the Scandic Ishavshotellet (Tromsø) and a number of other larger and smaller projects in Oslo, Trondheim, Evenes, Tromsø and Hamar.

In recent years, he has strengthened his competence through a PhD in project management. The main theme has been project management with a particular focus on project governance. In this work he has been associated with the Concept Research Programme at NTNU.

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