03.06.2015 : Bruce Marks

Tired of your projects being late?

The secret to achieving the shortest schedule is to never let the words 'this project is schedule driven' cross your project manager’s lips.

All major construction projects, whether they are a commercial building, a manufacturing plant or a large infrastructure development, are under schedule pressure from day one. This typically occurs because the approval to start is almost always delayed and the end date never changes.

The average outcome for all projects is that they are late and over budget and "schedule driven" projects are also  late and always over budget.

Businesses have public and commercial commitments, whether they are supply and off-take agreements for products e.g. the milk is coming in August and we need the plant to process it, or major a major sporting event like a World Cup, consequently, project teams have to finds ways to deliver.

Although it might appear contradictory, the secret to managing this pressure and achieving the required outcome is that the expression "this project is schedule driven" should never cross a project managers lips.

The majority of so called "schedule driven" projects are both late and over budget because the time is not taken to optimise the design, the quantities increase, and as a result of having more to buy and more to build, the project fails to achieve both the cost and schedule objective.

What is the best strategy to address this challenge?

A proven methodology to achieve an aggressive schedule is to consciously drive the scope down, and hence the cost, through optimising the design and managing change.

  1. Managing change needs close attention as the impact of change is always under estimated. The benefit needs to be really significant,. A good measure of what is significant is that the benefit must be more than three times the cost owing to the fact that engineers typically under estimate the impact of any change.
  2. Optimising change is best undertaken when a project is only undertaking engineering, i.e. .early in the schedule.  If the project has started construction, the impact of change is potentially far greater and the benefit to impact ratio needs to be in the range of ten to one to get approval to proceed.

This strategy will usually result in the shortest schedule and the lowest cost.

Sounds like a win / win outcome.

About the Author

Bruce Marks

Chief Engineer - Industrial Project Delivery

Bruce is a highly experienced and skilled project director who has delivered tremendous value for clients, particularly on large projects. As Chief Engineer – Industrial Project Delivery, he has successfully led complex, fast-track projects of over US$500m in value.

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