Through customisable data analytics and global best practice, every project can start off on the right foot says Oliver Kallenborn, Regional Data Analytics & Assurance Director, Middle East at Faithful+Gould, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group
Project success hinges on the first few months. It’s the time of maximum influence to set things up efficiently and effectively, identify obstacles and opportunities and deliver a resilient project management plan. Yet, the beginning of every construction project also sees new people and old processes collide in a melting pot of methodologies, and as modern projects grow in complexity and ambition, so do the risks.
Without a clear, consistent framework agreed by all parties, miscommunication and incoherence can be baked in. This is a common reason for all manner of trouble down the line: overruns, rework, or expensive changes to the plan during mobilisation. That’s why the first ninety days of a project set the tone for the entire schedule. However, projects range in size and scope, depending on local conditions and challenges. What may work for one may not work for others.
The key behind a reliable project delivery process, therefore, is a marriage of strong procedures and well-integrated technology. On any size or complexity of project, digital tools are now enabling the deployment of a state of the art analytical machine in the first ninety days, with scheduling, risk and cost integrated to provide strategic overview of the entire project. So not only do projects perform more predictably, accessibly and collaboratively, but new data continually feeds back into the system to improve future performance.
Time moves fast in a project’s opening months. Data must be benchmarked, communication strategy agreed, and a project management plan perfected. By thirty days, all requirements will have been mapped, and by sixty days, the client will receive recommendations along with a digital strategy report. This lays the foundation for all the digital work to come, planning the IT infrastructure and project technology. As projects become increasingly complicated, often with multiple partnerships, this process only grows in importance.
There never will be a one size fits all solution. Expenditure varies depending on the client and the project’s aspirations. Some projects will start with a handful of people on site, some with dozens. But decisions must be made at this point to set up control before mobilisation, after which the consequences of poor planning become extremely costly. If the right guiding processes are in place, however, the minimum operating standard can be raised across the board. So that when the ninety days are up, a strong foundation is in position.
Sooner or data
Modern projects rely increasingly on data – to track, guide and analyse. But the tools that work with the data are only as good as their input. Although this may seem like common sense, across industries we regularly come across poor levels of data maturity. This holds back the cascade of benefits that digital can reap. So it’s important to get it right the first time, and build strong foundational pillars to ensure data integrity, and system confidence.
This is why the data collection and assessment process must be rigorous. Only by performing quality checks, and running through a series of analyses to iteratively improve the quality of the output, will analytics perform accurately. Once that trust is established, the whole system continues to evolve over time, refining and distilling better ways to benchmark, utilise and harness the potential of information flows across a complex environment.
Digi-tallying up the benefits
With a strong baseline, the door to real insight opens. Digital integration and standardisation allows us to learn from every project, more comprehensively drilling down into the details to understand why mistakes happen and how they can be avoided. Sometimes that just comes down to having the right solution for the right project, so a customised digital strategy can immediately highlight any inconsistencies and inefficiencies.
After the first three months, scheduling analytics come online, improving and simplifying forecasting. No longer does a technical expert need to stay on top of a complex, difficult-to-access schedule – it’s now a clean, transparent interface that improves line of sight for everyone involved with the projects, and clearly flags schedule risks to the project management team. This improves collaboration and control on site, accommodating a diverse range of technical abilities, ensuring there’s no place for inefficiencies to hide and enabling you to provide completion dates to the client with confidence.
Practice makes perfect
As construction projects become more complex, we increasingly need a counterbalancing force to simplify them. That’s the rationale behind Atkins’ Programme Management Office (PMO), as a set of tools for grounding projects and equipping teams to deliver above and beyond. We’ve been showcasing the potential of this approach with Kings College Hospital, who have been expanding their global reach. Phase One of their new hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is scheduled to open its doors later this year. The project team in Jeddah is using their analytics to their maximum capacity, with only a small team – generating huge efficiencies and raising the bar for data integration standards.
With every project we apply PMO, we learn more and use those lessons to do it better in future. Which means best practice is now a standard, and we can adapt as it evolves. That enables project teams to focus on what matters: collaborating in strong working relationships and seeing the bigger picture, confident that every angle is covered by a consistent, comprehensive approach. So that, in an industry long known for overrunning and overspending, PMO integrates people, data and technology to chart a course to predictable and robust outcomes.
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