Special to BuiltWorlds
Facility owners are tasked with delivering best-in-class projects that stay on schedule and within budget. However, within our industry, this can be a particularly complicated task.
Challenges can arise unexpectedly at any point in the project life cycle that cause delays and increase costs. Data presented by Dodge Data & Analytics and research partner e-Builder in a new industry report, Optimizing the Owner Organization, found that the majority of owners fall victim to such challenges. Among those surveyed, only 15% of owners successfully maintain project budget and just 8% finish projects on-time, without overruns. These findings suggest the the majority of owners experience performance issues that waste significant time and money.
- To read the full report, click here to download.
As alarming as these statistics may seem, there are specific practices and tactics used by owner organizations that correlate to the best — and lowest — performing groups. All of these practices have been found to have direct impact on project success.
By interviewing 174 owners and top project managers nationwide about their methodologies, the new report details the following five best practices to keep projects on schedule and within budget.
1. Nurture Talent
Top performing owners, or those who regularly see projects completed on time and under budget, know there is value in keeping their employees happy, engaged and productive. Therefore, the savviest owners ensure that job roles are clearly defined, formal training and development programs are provided, job performance is evaluated regularly and an active and continuous recruitment program is in place. Top performing owners consistently look for ways to nurture and support their teams. For example, top performing owners spend considerable time listening to their employees and asking what they need to make their jobs easier. By engaging with their employees, owners can identify areas where there may be bottlenecks that slow down processes. Top-performing owners seek first to understand before being understood. They encourage employee engagement by advising employees to speak up and take risks.
2. Develop a strong Culture
In addition to nurturing talent, creating a culture focused on optimizing performance is equally important to a project’s success. Some ways to build and maintain this focus include standardizing construction processes and communication across projects, creating and promoting a clear and consistent vision and purpose from leadership, encouraging innovative technology use, and inspiring risk-taking and trying new things. Today, only half of the construction owners surveyed are encouraging risk-taking and trying new things, which may be a deterrent to making progress on improving project performance, and can impede technology innovation. Top performing owners, however, know that taking the time to encourage and develop a strong workplace culture will lead to increased project success.
3. Measure Project Performance
In keeping with the old saying “you get what you measure,” frequent performance measurement is practiced by nearly two-thirds (64%) of top tier owners. Top performers have clear and consistent processes in place to measure project performance. To make more informed, data-driven decisions, top-performing owners regularly measure factors such as project budget, project delivery time, and smooth transitioning of information and data through each phase of the project.
4. Use ‘PMIS’ for better outcomes
Roughly half of top-performing owners use a project management information system (PMIS) for cost management, contract administration, performance and reporting analysis, construction scheduling, and risk management. A PMIS organizes all data required for an organization to execute a project successfully. By relying on a PMIS to organize project data, owners and project managers can make better decisions, allocate budget and project resources more effectively and experience an overall better project outcome.
5. Engage Internal Stakeholders
Half of the top-performing group of owners say they engage internal stakeholders in important decision-making processes. Keeping stakeholders engaged is the basis for positive project governance and is something that over half of owners (54%) underestimate. Regularly engaging with stakeholders can improve communications, obtain wider project support, gather useful data and ideas, enhance an owner’s reputation, and provide for more sustainable decision-making.
Most importantly, regular engagement with stakeholders can dramatically improve final outcomes. Top-performing owners engage with their stakeholders by involving them in the project planning, design and implementation processes from the beginning. Their opinions are considered, and they are provided with regular updates on project performance so that there are no questions on exactly where the project stands. Additionally, by utilizing BIM models, owners can leave a 3D model of the project with their stakeholders and let them virtually experience the facility for themselves.
It’s clear from such research that owner organizations face a number of challenges in their efforts to improve project performance, but the practices, policies, tools and tactics of the top performers can be a valuable guide for others working to overcome these challenges and make tangible progress toward improved performance. By nurturing talent, working on organizational culture, regularly measuring project performance, using a PMIS and effectively engaging with stakeholders, owners can improve the success of their capital projects, maintain schedule, and stay within budget.
Based in Plantation FL, the author teamed with brother Jon Antevy in 1998 to form e-Builder, a provider of integrated, cloud-based construction program management software for facility owners and the companies that act on their behalf.
A registered professional engineer in Florida, Ron held various senior management positions in the construction and environmental services industries prior to e-Builder.