The first time I heard this term was a few years ago whilst working in the Middle East in Qatar. In Australia the role is usually described as Contract Administrator, but project controls much better describes the position.
The skills and experience that I have looked for in potential contract administrators can be broadly divided in to three:
- contract management
- financial management
- schedule/programme management (on larger projects this becomes the role of project planner)
Unfortunately on some lesser size projects the contract administrator ends up being the dogsbody who has to manage the subcontractors, submit progress claims to the client, order the stationery and do the filing. So a lot of their time is spent carrying out tasks which they are grossly over paid for.
The concept of project controls ensures that the right people are doing the right job. Unfortunately if you have ever tried to hire an experienced planner who can use say Primavera you will know how difficult it is.
So far I have been talking about the construction industry, mining and infrastructure has even bigger problems. Many companies in this sector simply do not have the systems and expertise to run and deliver projects. There is a reluctance from the mining sector to bring in construction people, yet, here in Australia that is where the boom is taking place and that is where there is a desperate shortage of planners, contracts people and project managers.