Integrated Project Planning for Greater Project Certainty
September 30, 2021
Careful project planning is the foundation for executing on a successful build. All that planning requires breaking construction down into the steps necessary to complete the project on time and on budget, all while meeting owner requirements and accounting for the seemingly infinite amount of resources it will take.
Fortunately, the introduction of advanced technology to the construction planning toolbox in the last few decades has dramatically improved project planning. With the industry currently migrating from point solutions to integrated platforms, there’s the strong potential to deliver even more control and efficiency to the project planning (and execution) process so expectations align more closely with outcomes. And with that comes increased project certainty — fewer surprises, better accountability, more realism — which has become more highly valued by owners and contractors alike particularly over the last 18 months.
The point solution conundrum
Point solutions are generally efficient at performing their respective primary purposes throughout the different phases of a build, i.e., scheduling, estimating, document control, commissioning and so forth. Over time, though, continually introducing new point solutions can result in a medley of products from different vendors who themselves may be industry-neutral with solutions that are neither made nor intended to be compatible with each other.
This means that vital information captured in different parts of your projects’ stories is often difficult to share. This is because the data can lack standardization and a consistent framework. Early on, the promise of improved efficiencies may have been serving you well, but as your needs progress, it could wind up costing you as more solutions must be added to the mix. The unanticipated results are often measured in extra time and effort dedicated to redundant data re-entry in multiple places and trying to find a workaround for incompatibility issues. Moreover, it puts the reliability of the data into question, so any insights you could possibly gain may actually be skewed.
Ultimately, this can compromise the project planning process as well as any peace of mind in the accuracy and usefulness of your project data. And no one wants to go into any large-scale infrastructure project with less-than-optimal confidence.
The integrated approach to project planning
A construction-specific integrated platform fills in the gaps found in disconnected solutions, being better able to capture, organize and process project data than disparate point solutions. With seamless data imported and exported as needed, information can be shared across multiple project teams and business functions. This bypasses those inevitable risks of incorrect data entry and jumping between solutions simply to enter the same data. As long as care goes into the data input process at the beginning — and throughout the build as new information is generated — project planning accuracy improves dramatically.
As large and complex as your projects are, such as infrastructure projects, having a single source of truth for comprehensive project knowledge ensures that all that carefully curated data no longer exists in isolation. This includes items such as: 2D and 3D drawings; labor, materials and equipment resources; cost and schedule estimates; daily reports; punch lists and safety hazards. Instead, with data solutions that “speak” to each other, you can leverage prior project details for current and future builds, setting realistic budget and scheduling expectations during the project planning stage, for example. The transparency afforded by integrated platforms through this centralized hub levels the decision-making field as well by making data accessible to all, and essentially creating a way for current back office employees, site crews and stakeholders alike to learn from past projects.
In addition, you can further capitalize on all your valuable integrated historical data for risk identification and mitigation. Think of it this way: while capital projects are largely unique in their own way, they still have shared components among them that, when applied to current and future projects, enable predictability of cost, schedule, and perhaps more importantly, risk. This is one area that can make a measurable impact on project certainty. Why? Because you can prepare for the anticipated project hiccups with a higher degree of confidence based on your real-life data. Using details from that single source of truth allows you to examine what may have gone wrong before by providing answers to key questions. How were risks handled? Did anything happen that wasn’t accounted for? What impact was there on schedule, cost, safety and quality? Were previously created contingency plans sufficient in navigating around extreme schedule delays and/or cost overruns, or should they have been modified in any way? This data-driven kind of exploration can lead to better risk-adjusted schedules, estimates, forecasts and contingency plans.
InEight’s construction planning, scheduling and risk software can help streamline the intricate planning process, automating many of the often inefficient manual tasks that consume precious time and effort. In addition, we are continuing to enhance our tools to improve your planning processes. Be sure to check out our latest product enhancements to short-interval planning (SIP) here. As always, we’re happy to walk you through a demo so you can see how InEight can help you make a positive difference across your project planning process.