Eight success factors for the delivery of infrastructure programs

24 August 2021 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read
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State and federal governments across Australia are currently having to deliver significant infrastructure programs to support regional and national economic growth and meet changing demands of residents. Guy Turner and Le Tilahun from Partners in Performance share eight key success factors for the successful delivery of such programs. 

Focus on improving outcomes

Focus on capital effectiveness and delivering improved outcomes with lower capital investment. We see a need to shift towards rapid, needs-based project selection and prioritisation. The business case process must be streamlined to enable the timely selection of projects that maximise socio-economic impact for optimal capital allocation based on the best possible supporting evidence. 

Establish excellent project performance management

Mega-projects are run by temporary teams often working together for the first time under significant pressure to perform from the start. Establishing excellent project performance management will help create a high performing joint team. 

Guy Turner and Le Tilahun from Partners in Performance

Embed collaboration

Project challenges are too often attempted to be solved in silos without the right expertise or are raised to a wider group too late. Bringing expertise together early and solving challenges collaboratively, with the right incentives and without blame, builds a working environment that delivers success for all. 

Ensure performance transparency

Simple systems must be put in place in contracts to ensure all project teams are using the same fact base, enabling them to see and resolve emerging issues together early. Escalate performance issues early based on a single source of truth, through automated dashboards that are updated in real-time. 

Incentivise continuous excellence

Projects need contractors that deliver excellent performance and collaboration from day one; however, they do not typically incentivise for it. Projects must implement contract incentives that reward monthly and quarterly project management excellence against a shared view of best practice. 

Commit to projects that can be successful

Too often projects go through final approval with unnecessary risk or believing risk will be transferred to the contractors. It is best practice to remove foreseeable risks before approval and demand suitable quality of project readiness at final approval. Key risk always returns to owners or, at best, the owner overpays for being ill-equipped to manage and mitigate its risk. 

Avoid risky innovation

Innovation and technology are key enablers to driving productivity on capital projects. However, mega-projects should not be the testbed for unproven technologies as the cost of getting it wrong is too high. Most organisations just want their big new build projects to simply work well and be brought in on time and on budget. 

Pilot innovations on smaller and less complex new projects, or upgrades to existing assets where the impact of risk is substantially lower. Then scale up the innovations for the mega-projects once their technology is validated, their processes are understood, and suitable execution capabilities are in place.

Leverage the benefit of digital tools

From five dimensional building information modeling (BIM 5D) to AI-driven scheduling, drone quantity trackers, human safety trackers, or AR-assisted wearables, the future is here, or at least within our reach. Yet to capture its benefits, project teams have to get integrated and change their behaviours.

Owners must lead the cultural changes and pursue a rolling digital collaboration program with their supply chains to develop, implement and capture the increasing benefit of digital across their project portfolio.