Key roles in your offshore team
Your construction team needs to rest on strong foundations. Each position is highly specialized and, as the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Depending on the project’s needs, your first port of call might be a project manager to oversee and facilitate the project process. Project management requires excellent communication skills, a high level of strategic thinking, a detailed knowledge of the industry, and an intimate understanding of the role of each team member.
Project managers also need to make executive decisions using their knowledge and experience in the industry, so an offshore project manager will probably require at least a few projects under their belt. The larger and more complex the projects are, the more experienced your project manager will need to be. They’re usually the facilitator that keeps the project moving, and can be part of the project from the beginning stages of planning, costing and design through to construction, depending on the scope of the project.
It doesn’t always suit a project to have an offshore project manager to replace an onshore one, as they’re often required to conduct site inspections. But offshore and onshore project managers can work together to manage both teams and ensure that quality, cohesion and communication flows between the onshore and offshore teams, especially for larger projects.
If your project is on a smaller scale, you could offshore the lead architect to design the concept that the engineers can then base their schematics off (if the architect has appropriate accreditation for the region they are designing for). This architect could also act as the conduit between the engineers and the project manager, or, in some cases, clients. For larger projects, you could also offshore an architect to work under the lead onshore architect, to help them work on a specific part of the project.
CAD operators, 3D modellers and associated roles
You could save your company time and money to offshore the presentation side of the project. This could entail not only CAD drawings, realistic renderings and 3D models of the concept, but also a walk-through. These walk-throughs are generally used to show the physical and functional characteristics of the concept to a client and are for presentation purposes only, with the aim of getting faster and more effective approvals from the client. Walk-throughs are becoming common practice in the industry and are also becoming increasingly sophisticated via the integration of virtual reality software. Suffice to say that a strong level of technical know-how is required for this component.
Next, you’d need engineers of various specializations to design the structure and map out suitable schematic designs. Offshoring engineering teams specifically, as opposed to the whole project team, can be a good starting point, as these roles require less client interaction than a project manager, for example, and can be more systematic.
That’s not to underplay the role of the engineers, as each engineer’s role is crucial to the success of your project, and impacts every team member. This means that, for an engineering team, you’d usually require an engineer from each discipline, as they’re each highly specialized. If you have a team of intermediate to senior engineers offshore, you would also probably have discipline-specific engineering technicians offshore to complete all the nitty-gritty details on the design. Depending on their specializations, engineering technicians may become civil, mechanical or electrical engineers, with further formal studies and licensing.
As the roles are so specialized, engineers can’t move into other roles as fluidly as some positions, but they can rise to more managerial positions and take on more responsibility in their particular niche within the team.
Next in line is the quantity surveyor, who’ll provide cost planning, bills of quantities, variation assessments, and progress claim reviews. Your offshore quantity surveyor may require an assistant – or more than one, in the case of large projects. Again, the project manager will be the main liaison with the quantity surveyor, though the work of each discipline impacts them. For example, if there’s a variation in the design from one of the engineers, the quantity surveyor will need to be across this to assess it.
With additional training or postgraduate studies, quantity surveyors can move into project management roles, so long as they have a background in construction and experience.
To top off your engineering services and outsourced team, you’d need an administrative assistant to manage documentation and assist the team as needed. They’d ideally have experience within the construction industry so they can help with documentation control, contracts administration and submissions.