Why do too many Projects ‘Drop the Baton’?

Delivering an infrastructure project can be a bit like a relay race. Each stage from design and planning to completion needs to be handed over without breaking stride. And to pursue that analogy, how often is it the final change  – or technical handover – where somebody drops the baton?

Historically, the culture in the industry is one that hasn’t placed enough emphasis on the details of the technical handover. Late in the project people start to think about collating ‘as built’ records, compiling the Health & Safety file, providing maintenance and operating information in the agreed format, and getting contract completion records signed off.

Considering that a technical handover is standard procedure you have to wonder why this happens. The requirements should be well understood and specified in the contract. Perhaps the need to complete works on time to avoid penalties gets all of the attention.

Errors and Omissions

Compiling the information needed for an effective handover in haste may result in errors and omissions. These may only come to light at a later stage when maintenance work is needed. The type of shortcut that sometimes happens is to include generic or marketing documentation with a piece of installed equipment, rather than concise operating and repair information.

Opportunities are also missed to add detailed asset information to a central information store. This could be invaluable for planning and modelling future projects. With the need to squeeze every bit of value from every infrastructure investment, these are opportunities that shouldn’t be missed.

Perhaps the technical handover process doesn’t have sufficient weight in the contract negotiation. If it did, surely contractors would then assign KPIs and ensure that the creation of handover information was planned and tracked throughout the project. There’s probably a culture change needed from both sides.

Supply chain management may also be an issue. Are subcontract agreements sufficiently clear about whose responsibility it is to provide accurate and usable technical information?

Whatever the historical issues may have been, surely, it’s not too much to expect, with the technology now at our disposal, that the baton gets handed over effortlessly ready for the final sprint to the line. In 2018 technical handover should be a non-issue.

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