Nikhil S Kelkar_Infrastructure Growth_ProjectsMonitor— Nikhil S. Kelkar, General Manager – Projects, Grindwell Norton (PEG)

The Project Engineering Group (PEG) division was established in early 1970s primarily to set up Grindwell Norton’s plants and equipment in house. Today, PEG resources are available from concept to commissioning, be it a greenfield venture or design and manufacture of special purpose machines. Nikhil S. Kelkar, in an email interview with Sandeep Menezes, discusses the importance of project planning and management.

India is today at the crossroads. What is your forecast?
India is expected to continue to benefit from its so-called demographic dividend and to lead global growth in the coming decades. The country has enormous potential and the slowdown is only temporary. Timely reforms on key issues will open the door to a bright future for us. Industrial growth will also be a key factor to kick-start infrastructure growth.

What is the major difference between project management in India vis-à-vis that in the West?
In India, at PEG, we believe in the concept of PMO – Project Managers (& Teams) as Owners — who virtually own up everything and orchestrate the process of design to startup working very closely with customers. The PMO concept brings to the table that rich experience and specific know how often not available with similar consultants.  In short, we don’t work for a customer, we work with him.

While project planning is essential, does it create an additional layer of management that can delay the decision making process? Before starting a project, the planning period is absolutely critical for a successful and timely commissioning. This does mean that at times, the plans can delay decision making. However, these delays are far likely to offset the likely time, cost and quality impacts that can be seen in poorly planned projects. While there is a temptation in smaller projects with short gestation periods to plunge in and plan alongside progress, more often than not you are likely to end up in surprises that can jeopardise the advancement.

How should project managers handle sudden changes in regulatory policies?
In the dynamic environment and uncertain political situation that we live in today, we can expect abrupt changes in controlling policies that impact business investments and operations. Project managers need to be on their toes all the time and quickly adapt to the changes that affect the project. In the case of PEG, we have had many opportunities to work in projects globally and our teams have shown the right alacrity to adapt to diverse requirements.

How is project risk linked to financial closure?
Project risk can impact a project significantly, and lead the project into financial tailspins. It is essential to identify such risks at early stages and ensure they do not create a negative influence on the project, be it financial, time, quality or safety related. If all stakeholders fail to assess risks during conceptual stage of project, there will be cascading negative impacts affecting financial closure.


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