Project Performance – Will Reality Match the Promise?

Certainty over cost and delivery are generally not characteristics of construction projects. But with infrastructure projects cost and particularly timing overruns can have significant consequences.
Delays to handing back sections of the rail network, in particular, can cause major, high profile disruption to rail users. It’s no surprise that steps taken to provide certainty over cost and delivery performance are becoming increasingly important factors in the selection of contractors for projects and frameworks.

Effective project planning systems are really just a basic requirement. To have real confidence that your supplier can back up their delivery promises you need to look deeper and ask more searching questions, such as:

  • How do they maximise the skills and knowledge of the supply chain and manage supplier performance?
  • What happens if a performance issue comes to light and how do they go about preventing reoccurrence?
  • How effective is communication at triggering early intervention?

Evidence of a strong learning culture and a collaborative working ethos between the main contractor, their designer and supply chain is one of your strongest indicators that projects will consistently be delivered on time, to budget and to a high standard.

Innovation is closely linked to continuously improving delivery performance and value. So it’s essential to understand how innovation will be cultivated. How do contractors collaborate with specialist suppliers and engage with industry best practice and research? Or are they content to carry on with the same old methods?

For frameworks, it’s also vital to be clear about how overarching goals are pursued through call off projects. Particular areas to explore include how the Framework Performance plan and individual Project Performance Plans work together to ensure the framework deliverables and vision are reinforced.

Other evidence includes Innovation Registers, Environmental Management Plans, and Community Engagement Project Execution Plans

Budget performance monitoring is also essential. Processes to monitor actual spend against planned spend must be clear and easy to use.

The final question is how easy will it be for you to know if performance is off course. The Osborne approach is to have a suite of balanced scorecards and performance dashboards to visualise performance management indicators at a glance. This visual format enables prompt and effective intervention by the collaborative team to solve problems quickly.

Where certainty over cost and timing is a high priority, you need to be convinced there is a top to bottom commitment to collaboration, innovation and continuous improvement.

Find out more by visiting Highways learning pages on our website.

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