Unveil Factors of Project Success
I spoke at some events in my home country sharing about project management issues after I spent years in the United States learning about it. And I found something interesting, questions raised were typical. From project delays to operational problems like cash deficiency due to unfeasible projects or turn-to-be-unviable projects. These typical problems found here and there, what is the matter with the project management applied at that go-wrong projects?
Before we talk further about project management, we have to understand a project’s underlying principles. The first one, we have to remember that a project will not last forever. That way, we aware that it has constraints of cost, time, and resources. The second one, every project is unique. We cannot treat them the same with the same template, same contracts — for instance. And third, project success is not produced through a performance put on by one person or party. It needs collaboration in coordination and control from all stakeholders.
Project teams sometimes are mistaken by glorifying the construction process as the most important phase of a project when actually it is not. The most important phase of a project is planning. It has the greatest ability to affect success and any changes made within this phase, will resulting in the lowest cost compared to the next phases. We need to plan for everything since the beginning. Not only the feasibility or construction and safety plan but also the multilayered contracts, multi-aspects risk management plan, insurance plan for each party, communication plan, choice of project delivery, including the strategic plan to boost occupancies or traffics after the project close-out.
That are five rules for managing large and complex projects as stated by MIT Sloan.
- Assess what is worked before. Learn from the past projects, include projects outside of our organizations. Maximize your organization’s knowledge and data management.
- Organize for the unforeseen. Keep update of what is going on out there to get a view of the upcoming changing behaviors or disruptions, and get prepared to face it.
- Rehearse first. This can be done through technology utilization, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), or on-off site simulations and prototypes.
- Calibrate and apportion risk appropriately. Gary Cohn (an American business leader) said that if you did not invest in risk management, it did not matter what business you were in, it was a risky business.
- Harness innovation from start to finish. Innovation is not always about sophisticated technology usage. It can be an innovation in strategy, management, or leadership. A simple way that can lead us to innovation, and I would love to talk about it in another part is Kaizen. And do not afraid of thinking about something that does not exist yet.
Mindset is also a critical factor in a successful project manifestation. We need to lead the project as a business, not a project, and focus on not losing money. We also need to help contractors successful by creating a supportive working climate for them so they can deliver their best.
Begin with the end in mind is also very helpful to establish a firm plan. By visualizing the ideal project’s output at the very beginning, we can predict the challenges better.
And when we learn from other projects, do not only imitate. But make sure we know about it by taking it apart and find its loopholes to create a better one.
Choosing the right project delivery is crucial too. A traditional project delivery, like design bid builds no longer becomes a choice due to its failures to enable better coordination between project teams to minimize errors and disputes. A more integrated delivery, such as design-build and public-private partnerships (P3) is favorable.
P3 is a design, construction, financing, operations, and maintenance partnership between public and private entities or individual private parties if possible. There are various approaches in P3 too. P3 can be a design-build-finance (DBF), design-build-operate maintain (DBOM), or design-build-finance-operate-maintain (DBFOM). P3 is not privatization since the government will not lose control over it. P3 is also a form of innovative financing method, and the purpose of it is also to ensure that good quality will be delivered by the concession holders involved.
A successful project means that success is not only achieved by the project team itself but also successfully gives impacts to the society and environment. Please pay attention to gender equality and minority participation at the project, think about the community impacted, and support the sustainability of our earth to make your project holistically successful.
As I told you, that strategic plan after the project close-out is also a part of planning — consider applying the land value capture concept as part of the financing and marketing strategy. In the land value capture concept, construction (especially infrastructure construction) goes along with the area development. Money gained from sales (land sales, right of built, and use of buildings) also can be used for the initial project’s construction. Higher traffics and occupancies can be generated this way.
Managing projects is like doing artworks. Your ‘project’ is like one part of your whole painting. We need to think in systems and understand that many things can influence our projects, whether before or after the project close-out.