Improved processes and technology lead to successful projects.

Ask any construction professional for their definition of “project success” and you’ll get an array of different – and sometimes conflicting – answers. So, what does successful project delivery really mean? And, how can you achieve it?

At its most basic, a project can be said to be successful when it’s delivered on time and on budget and has met all business requirements. That’s easy to say, but not always easy to execute, particularly with projects that are highly complex, involving countless stakeholders and thousands of moving parts.

Project success hinges partly on ensuring predictability in both planning and field execution. That predictability comes from knowing the issues and having direct and challenging conversations around them before it’s too late in the process to course-correct.

A three-pronged approach that gets the right people around the table, then develops agreed-upon processes, and finally ties them together through appropriate technology can go a long way in helping you gain the visibility and foresight you need to achieve project success.

The First Pillar: People

As a first step in building out a predictable project plan, you need to assemble the right people at the right levels from the beginning and get them working together.

In a collaborative environment, with the correct stakeholders on board, you are better able to spot potential pain points and disconnects in a plan before work begins. This enables the proper building of work packages so they can be executed in the correct sequence, minimizing challenges conceptually before they get put into practice.

The philosophy behind this methodology is known as Integrated Project Delivery, where planners, engineers, owners, contractors and subcontractors work together to provide input on a project from its earliest stages. By fielding and evaluating their diverse perspectives based on collective experience and using those valuable insights to plan around potential pitfalls, you have a greater ability to minimize associated risks.

The Second Pillar: Process

With the correct people in place, the focus falls to process, with particular attention to two key areas: advanced work planning and integrated project controls. Advanced work planning aims to create a construction-driven plan based on sequencing. If items are out of sequence in your build, the results can be disastrous.

For instance, if you’re to build out a section that connects to piping, but the plan didn’t instruct adding the piping before this segment, the entire project will be thrown off course. Also, you might not have scheduled the correct craftspeople or have all of the required materials on hand – or even have the necessary segment completed to execute the plan as written. It’s a matter of examining your process and ensuring you have defined the most logical sequence of work for the goal at hand, thereby minimizing risk.

By adopting an advanced work planning process, you have a planner who assigns work areas, installation packs and design packs. He or she also transforms and adds data to the engineering model before assembling activities, models and drawings to installation work packages (IWPs) and design work packages.

The second key area of process development is integrated project controls. These project controls include collectively scheduling activities created by project quantities and installation steps and performing field data capture for both man-hours and the quantities installed.

Armed with this information, you can forecast productivity and determine if there are issues with the current plan as designed. Having the ability to capture this real-time data in a system built to analyze and provide quick visualizations is key – and that’s where technology steps in.

The Crucial Third Pillar: Technology

I consider technology to be the linchpin of our three pillars because by unlocking the power of project digitalization and advanced work planning, you can transform the way you respond to challenges and make critical project decisions in real time. Without technology supporting the people and the process, without data being collected and managed properly, you will never achieve the level of project predictability – and productivity – you envisioned.

Unfortunately, our industry has lagged behind others in digitalizing its assets. According to a recent McKinsey report, the construction industry is near the bottom of the list of largest global industries in IT revenue spend (1.1% of revenue). This is alarming, because studies show a direct correlation between digitalization and productivity.

By using digital project management solutions – particularly those that can capture the dynamics of field execution and deliver real-time reporting and status – you are able to work from a single source of truth. Technology empowers you to capture information from all the diverse perspectives involved in the project, as well as a centralized view of each IWP.

Without technology supporting the people and the process, without data being collected and managed properly, you will never achieve your desired outcome. Data is in the driver’s seat, and by adopting today’s technology, you will be on the road to project certainty and even greater project success – however you define it.

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