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4 Keys to Finishing On-Time & Under Budget | Part 1 of 2

Project schedules may fall apart for any number of reasons, but it’s often a case of poor planning and a lack of communication. If participants do not share common goals or are left out of the early planning stages, a project can be doomed from the start. The lesson to be learned is that early decisions‐both good and bad‐have a cascading effect throughout the entire project. Taking the time to establish a well‐thoughtout plan before the first drawing is printed may seem daunting, but it can help you improve both your budget and schedule performance by 30% or more.

Industry‐wide studies conducted by the Havertown, PA Center for Business Practices (CBP) found that organizations that implemented project‐planning initiatives report a 34% improvement in schedule performance, a 30% improvement in budget performance, and a 50% increase in projects completed.

You may not want to take the time to put together a formal plan, but the alternative could be even less desirable. Whether you’re wiring a new office building or retrofitting a multi‐million dollar processing plant, the four keys to completing the project successfully are the same.

Key #1: Identify the overall project goal

Are you trying to improve the light levels in an office or change the electrical wiring to fit a new room layout? Does the industrial facility want to increase production capacity, improve safety, or reduce utility costs? Focus on the ultimate business goal rather than simply how to complete your given task.

The cost and duration of a project can be unnoticeable and slowly rise until it’s too late. Be sure that you understand and define a successful “complete project” so that everyone involved is aware of expectations. Early planning and collaboration within a team leads to consideration for issues like reliability, upgrades, change readiness, operating costs, and energy savings. A good plan is a win for everyone, including the owner and the other contractors involved.

Key #2: Involve the appropriate people early

Everyone participating in the project must be involved and informed from the beginning. Call a meeting and share all pertinent project information with other subcontractors, suppliers, internal engineering groups, accountants, and maintenance personnel. Early feedback from the assembled team regarding the design can go a long way in both adding value and preventing drawbacks further down the road. It’s much easier to make adjustments to the project schedule early rather than later.

Each project has dependencies that need to be mapped out. For example, during office construction, it would be problematic if the electrician didn’t know where each office was going to be located in the final layout or if the painter and drywaller had not received a copy of his work schedule. The carpenter must put up the stud walls before the electrician can arrange the wiring. The painter can’t begin until the drywall has been mudded and sanded. Carpeting can’t be ordered until the office dimensions and layout are known.

Trade coordination is especially important to a project in a processing plant. Many parts of a process plant must connect or other components will be negatively affected. One of our firm’s recent projects faced both budgetary and technical challenges which was solved by having engineering, construction, instrumentation, and control engineering work together on designing intrinsically safe instrumentation and control hardware in a hazardous area. We found that although more was spent on the initial devices, the reduced wiring costs that resulted (conventional instead of classified) not only compensated for the additional hardware cost but also resulted in overall savings on the project. On top of that, this design allowed the owner to maintain the equipment during operations in the sensitive area.

A big part of involving people is also getting their buy‐in. Involving everyone in early discussion and decision‐making creates a sense of ownership.

When people understand the reason for a decision, know the definition of a successful project and feel their concerns have been adequately addressed, they’ll be more willing to cooperate. This sense of ownership will lead them away from a “looking out for me” mentality and promote overall project success.


Interested in the next two keys to finishing on time and under budget? Read about them in 4 Keys to Finishing On-Time & Under Budget | Part 2 of 2.

Learn more about how our team can help you achieve project success by having a trusted partnership for your entire project life-cycle here.

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