Antonio Villarreal
Director General
View from the Top

Overcoming Project Management Challenges

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 13:14

Q: What areas of opportunity do you see for project management in Mexico?

A: Mexico has yet to set a single term for the responsibilities undertaken by a project manager. The name can vary among projects from construction administrator to project supervisor. Developers in the US understand and widely use the term project manager to describe the company that oversees the entire development of a project, including its conception and financial aspects. Mexico still has several projects that are being built without project managers and the lack of structure and methodology can make them more prone to delays or cancellation.

Q: What challenges must a project manager overcome?

A: Projects are much more complex than 20 years ago when only four or five companies were involved. Now we need to consider sustainability, security and even landscape design, which can get complicated. This is made additionally complex due to the fact our company helps clients develop quality projects from design to operation.

Sometimes the hardest part is assessing the client and guiding them to fit their ideas within realistic time frames. A client may approach us wanting to build a plaza in less than 12 months without understanding its costs or the project’s complexity. On occasions we have had requests to turn in proposals within a day. We advise our clients about the importance of planning to avoid time and budget overruns. For this reason, we almost never work with the public sector because it only tends to seek basic supervision of the construction while we strive to go above and beyond. Projects in remote areas such as Puerto Peñasco entail additional challenges. In Sonora, the logistics can be more difficult and we have had to bring in suppliers from Guadalajara.

Q: How do you find a balance between meeting client needs and assuring timely and high-quality projects?

A: We prioritize communication and adapt to the style of our clients. Some prefer to receive documents digitally and others physically and sometimes they request to have weekly or monthly meetings. We try to make sure issues are addressed right away and our clients appreciate this honesty and transparency.

Axioma strives to use standards and processes to help create better quality and more well-planned projects. We achieve this by not only training employees but our clients as well, which helps promote congruency across the different phases. Almost 90 percent of our business comes from recommendations. It is also important for companies to find their niche and to focus on that. Expanding to other areas can be risky and raises the likelihood of failure. Throughout our 25 years in the market, we have never expanded out of our role as project managers because we know it is what we do well.

Q: What sectors do you prioritize?

A: We work in a wide range of projects but our main priority is tourism. In Los Cabos, there is a 17,000-room project on the table. The sector is ideal for us because it guarantees a minimum of three years of work, including one for planning and two for construction. Hotels also have the benefit of not depending on investment funds and this reduces the risk of project cancellation. Tourism requires a wide range of specialties because it involves many details such as recreational activities and communication and automation systems.

We have noticed that industrial demand is decreasing while residential is experiencing a boom. We participate in commercial and vertical housing. The boom may have started in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara but it is spreading to other areas such as Queretaro and Tijuana. Axioma is involved in commercial developments as well and just contracted an 8,000m2 commercial development in Torreon.