Proper Planning, Preparation and Proactive Problem Preclusion (Prevention) Prevents Poor Project Performance.
So how can we improve construction project delivery?
Planning – client
Frequently the client and their team are to blame when construction projects go wrong because of their poor planning. Proper client side planning includes ensuring that:
- The scope of works is complete.
- The design is good – it delivers on the design brief and scope of works, it is constructible and practical, providing a practical and cost effective solution to satisfy all stakeholders.
- Contractors are provided all the necessary information and documentation to price the project.
- Contract documentation is complete, sufficient and not ambiguous or contradictory. The rights and obligations of all parties are clearly set out.
- The right contractors are selected and the selection isn’t based on price alone.
- All permits and permissions are in place.
- Site investigations and preparations are thoroughly done.
- The budget has been calculated correctly, it’s been checked and it’s sufficient.
- They understand the project risks.
- They have realistic expectations for the project.
Good planning by the contractor includes:
- Understanding the project requirements.
- Selecting appropriate construction methods.
- Ensuring there are sufficient resources for the project, and that these resources have the required skills.
- Preparing a proper project schedule. This schedule shouldn’t be squeezed to fit the client’s time frame if it’s not possible and is unrealistic. The schedule must be resourced properly, the task links must be correct, the schedule must allow for all of the project restraints including the expected weather conditions, and there must be sufficient time allowed for finishing, snagging and commissioning the project.
- Understanding the contract document, including their rights and obligations. It’s too late to start reading the contract document halfway through the project when a problem arises!
- Ordering the correct materials timeously.
- Implementing proper safety management systems at the start of the project.
- Implementing adequate quality systems and controls before starting work.
- Ensuring that all permits and permissions are in place.
- Checking that all insurances are in place.
The client’s proper preparations for the construction work includes:
- Ensuring everything is ready for the contractor, including, access to work areas, construction information and project facilities.
- Checking that all project permits are in place.
- Checking that all finance is in place and that their cash flow will be sufficient for the duration of the project.
- Ensuring they’ve fulfilled all their contractual obligations, including supplying utilities, services and facilities as required for construction.
- Ensuring that the contractor’s team understands the rules and regulations governing the project site and that all hazards have been made known and are understood.
- Setting up proper communication channels between all parties.
- Ensuring that the client’s team understands their responsibilities and limits of authority for the project.
- Checking that materials and equipment supplied by the client will be available when it’s required.
- Checking the contractor’s construction schedule to ensure that it complies with the project requirements and that they can deliver access and information in accordance with the schedule.
- Ensuring that there are no gaps in the project, or outstanding tasks.
The contractor’s proper preparations for construction work include:
- Having the right resources in sufficient quantities available when they’re required on the project.
- Ensuring that construction materials have been ordered correctly. Following up to ensure materials will be delivered on time in accordance with the construction schedule.
- Appointing the right subcontractors (not necessarily the cheapest) using the appropriate contract documentation.
- Communicating the construction schedule to those doing the work.
- Communicating the project rules, requirements and expectations to their workers. This includes safety and quality.
- Communicating the chosen construction methods to their team.
- Checking that the client has provided access and information for the construction work in accordance with the contract, and that the client has fulfilled their contractual obligations.
- Ensuring all safety measures are in place for the construction work and that there are proper controls to manage hazards.
- Ensuring their team understands their roles, responsibilities and limits of authority on the project.
- Putting in place proper document control systems – where documents can be easily distributed and stored, where they can be readily accessed and are protected.
Proactive problem prevention includes:
- Ensuring that reporting systems are in place on the project to detect problems early.
- Regularly review reporting systems (schedule, quality, safety, financial, budget, claims, etc), ensuring that the information in the system is correct and that concerns and problems highlighted in the reports are acted on.
- Assessing and understanding the project risks. Implement mitigation measures to prevent risk events occurring and to lessen the impacts if the risk event occurs. Risks should be continually re-evaluated during the life of the project.
- When problems are detected the true causes of the problem should be uncovered. Often the symptoms are addressed and not the underlying cause, which leaves the problem to fester and grow.
- Focus on problem solutions, rather than excuses or looking for blame.
- Not ignoring problems until it’s too late. Remember where there’s smoke there’s usually a fire. Problems on construction projects seldom resolve themselves and frequently they only get worse. Early intervention is essential.
- Communicate regularly with the project team. Encourage the project team to highlight potential problems. Communicate concerns and solutions to the team, ensuring that the solutions are implemented promptly and effectively.
- Regularly checking design and construction work.
- Continually planning ahead to ensure that everything will be in place for the upcoming activities.
- Actively managing the construction project.
Your construction project can be a success. Plan, prepare and be vigilant to foresee, prevent and solve problems. As I always say – it’s better to be a fire prevention officer than a firefighter, because it’s easier to prevent a fire than it is to extinguish a raging inferno which has already caused damage.
Remember the 10 P’s to ensure your construction project is successful – Proper Planning, Preparation and Proactive Problem Preclusion (Prevention) Prevents Poor Project Performance.
What problems have you encountered on construction projects that could have been prevented by proper planning and preparation?
Do you have a proactive problem prevention strategy on your project?
'Construction Claims: A Short Guide for Contractors' is another of Paul's useful books.
Paul has recently published 'Construction Management: From Project Concept to completion'.
Paul's new book: 'Build and Renovate Your Home With Your Eyes Wide Open' is for those with little construction experience who want to build or renovate a house. It's filled with tips and suggestions to help you on your way, ensuring you avoid the pitfalls of home construction projects.
These books are available on Amazon and other online book stores.
Paul publishes articles regularly on LinkedIn and his website.
Paul writes regular articles for other websites, gives lectures, mentors, and is available for podcasts and interviews.
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