AESG to “strongly penetrate market” with new cost management service line

As part of its CM growth strategy, AESG will focus on hiring key talent, implement a structured training programme and develop key speciality services within the portfolio

In an exclusive chat with Middle East Construction News (MECN), Gary Tracey, the recently minted Global Partner and Head of Cost Management at AESG says the firm will be looking to aggressively establish its new cost management (CM) service line within the regional construction space in the coming years.

“Over the next three years, our key goal for cost management is to strongly penetrate the market as it is the opportune time, and these services are highly relevant to the region. We are keen to engage with the construction industry and developers in ensuring that the many developments and giga-projects that have been announced and are underway are achieved, both within budget and the estimated time frame,” Tracey tells MECN.

The firm announced its new cost management service line early in November and said that it had assembled a “highly qualified cost management team”. The firm also noted that its service line would optimise cost efficiency and minimises risk for construction projects ranging from new developments and asset refurbishments to financial feasibility studies.

He adds, “AESG is already actively involved in a number of iconic projects in the region, and so it follows logically for us to support our clients with this new service. Through our expertise, will be able to guide clients in realising the maximum value for their money from the outset.”

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction costs and cost management have come into sharp focus, as a raft of issues – supply chain and logistics challenges, heightened oil prices etc – have colluded and significantly impacted project costs in the region, and across the globe.

Discussing the company’s CM strategy, he notes, “In terms of our strategy, we aim to grow our CM consultancy service line by hiring key talent, implementing a structured training programme to ensure quality is maintained, and developing key speciality services within the portfolio.”

He also states that the UAE and Saudi markets are where the firm anticipates it will see the most success for its new service line, “As the UAE market continues to grow and Saudi Arabia continues to boom with several giga projects, we believe both markets will provide the most opportunity for our CM services. We therefore anticipate our initial growth will be driven by success in both the UAE and KSA markets. We will then build on this momentum to expand the offering into London and Singapore.”

In July 2022, AESG said it achieved Fire and Life Safety certification from Saudi Civil Defense.

Asked about whether AESG will take on pure CM work or if the CM service will be offered as a value add on projects the consultancy is already involved in, Tracey responds, “The aim is to establish a core boutique cost management service line offering a full suite of cost management services throughout the life cycle of a project. These include, but are not limited to, feasibility studies, cost planning, procurement, post contract commercial management and post occupancy cost management.”

“Whilst we will aim to establish the core cost management service line as a standalone offering, we are keenly aware of the added value it brings by complementing AESG’s existing service portfolio. We will therefore dovetail this new offering with these established lines. Through our multidisciplinary service offering clients can get access to strategic, well-rounded, and integrated solutions across disciplines. This will enable us to provide specific value-added services for cost management whilst working closely with the other AESG service lines such as sustainability, MEP, strategy advisory, commissioning, fire life safety, acoustics, facades, and environmental consultancy.”

AESG says it is confident its new service line will be successful in its target markets, given the importance of cost management to a project’s success.

In August 2022, the firm said it would push smart buildings with WiredScore and SmartScore accreditation.

“I think it is important for the industry to be mindful and recognise the uncertainty in the economy. Therefore, robust strategies must be put in place to manage risk and achieve growth aspirations. This is where the need of a cost management consultant’s involvement at the very onset of the project is crucial to help clients realise the value for money and minimise client risk throughout the design and construction stages.”

He adds, “Our CM experts have over 20 years of providing cost insights to clients in the Middle East and Europe. Through intelligent capital planning and budgeting, active value management during design and robust procurement, we aim to establish a strong base of commercial rigor that will help projects meet their aspirational ambitions.”

Speaking about the relationship between cost management, project quality and sustainability, Tracey says that cost is a factor in any project, and the effective management of budgets is what ultimately determines outcomes.

In late November 2022, Savills revealed that fit-out costs in key office markets are continuing to rise.

“If the project is not financially feasible, developers are generally reluctant to proceed. However, given the importance of decarbonising the construction industry and the race to Net Zero it is now extremely important to prioritise sustainability on par with cost. To achieve this, it is important that sustainability goals are included when developing the project brief.”

He concludes, “All sustainability goals should be clearly identified, and feasibility studies carried out during the early project feasibility stage to ensure they fit within the client’s budget. The earlier these costs are identified, the easier it will be to implement into a design to achieve the budget. Thus, providing the opportunity for cost savings and meeting the project sustainability goals.”

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