When the project is in its infancy there seems to be plenty of optimism around; there is time and the budget looks healthy. The team feels upbeat about progress and there is a general belief they will be able to meet deadlines and make a decent profit. If this sounds like a great position to be in, what makes it more promising is how much of an influence the team can have on project costs at this stage. What factors can the team influence-
- Ability to optimize design to affect raw material – Early on, the design team has flexibility to evaluate several options on design and how design could specify low cost raw material by way of both labor and freight
- Ability to optimize design for capital cost reduction- Design optimization plays a significant role with constructability options thereby leading to reduced labor cost. This becomes a key cost driver especially for projects in locations where labor costs form a high percentage of project costs
- Ability to optimize the schedule by managing project float- The early part of the project is always the ideal phase at which time the execution team have the ability to look at options in terms of constructability, sequencing, heavy equipment usage, temporary facility sizing
You got the timing, you got it right. If you now plan to make changes when you are close to half way done, you may be too late! That’s right, its all about timing!
Cost vs Benefit? What gives?
It’s a project and yes changes are inevitable and to a large extent, so are delays. On a construction project, a delay could mean a critical path delay which for most part is instantly discoverable when it occurs. A cumulative delay is more of a cancer that continues to eat the project and is usually not discoverable until sometimes its too late. Do not be fooled into a false sense of security; if your end dates are holding just because your schedule says so, that’s only part of the news. Continue looking into how your project is going, are you making physical progress, is your SPI decent?
Back to the main story, when delays happen, project management reacts and most likely they will get all hands on deck and scream “Recover!” Yes, I know panic stations set in and all that but after the shouting, slow down and get down to doing something that will lend some sanity to the situation.
Ok, there is a delay and you have to recover, but here is the catch do you really need to recover? Remember all said and done, recovery costs $$!
A few points to consider-
- What do you achieve by recovery? If your project was ahead of schedule and even after the delay you can still deliver when the customer wants it, do you still want to recover.
- What do you gain by recovering? Is there a substantial bonus at stake?
- If recovery is going to cost you $ X and end results do not matter to the customer as long as product is delivered when the customer needs it, why spend the $$!
- If delays are translated into lost revenue for you in terms of liquidated damages amounting to $ X, but if the recovery costs you $x + $y, do you still want to recover?
- If the recovery helps gaining net revenue for you and protect your reputation by timely delivery, yes it may be worth it.
If you can truly slow down and assess the real cost-benefit of recovery, you are on the right track. Do not be wildebeest and go with the herd, learn to stand out and think on your own, a lone wolf perhaps?