Key Ways Accurate Tracking
Builds Project Certainty
March 28, 2023
“Project certainty.” Depending on who you ask, it can mean something slightly different — predictability, assurance, verifiability, confidence, control.
Any or all of these is what many construction managers strive for with every capital project they oversee. And yet, achieving any nuanced interpretation of project certainty remains unattainable for most capital projects, if the rather significant rate of overshot budgets and timelines is any indication.
Given the high-stakes, highly complex nature of today’s capital projects, how can construction managers be certain they’re on course to hit those expected outcomes?
By tracking project data.
Granted, many construction managers are already doing this. But familiar manual tracking methods have made a complicated process even more so, and effectively dashed any hope of true project certainty. There are modern tracking methods and technologies that can help proactively manage ongoing project progress as well as the uncertainties and risks that historically have undermined outcomes.
Let’s look at some key ways that more accurate tracking helps build project certainty for construction managers as well as for contractors and project owners.
Provides real-time project status, including performance trends
It’s hard to get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are. As it applies to capital projects, construction managers need a way to determine where things stand and whether they’re on the right track to meet established budget and schedule outcomes. It comes down to having access to real-time status data via earned value management (EVM) metrics that are automatically tracked and calculated using an EVM software solution. As a direct reflection of cost and schedule efficiency, these metrics can be the difference maker between project success and failure.
EVM provides the key performance indicators (KPIs) that make it easier to gauge not only how performance is trending within the current project but against what may be considered “normal” for similar projects.
Continuous monitoring provides visibility into project status that enables construction managers to keep a pulse on the project’s progress. It becomes far easier to discern areas where improvements can be made to optimize productivity and efficiency — a must for large and complex construction projects where multiple teams are working together.
Ultimately, construction managers are better able to maintain control of the project, ensure that it stays on track, and deliver the project on time and within budget. All of which helps to build certainty and confidence.
Identifies risks early, enabling better contingency planning
Long-term builds certainly present plenty of opportunity for the unexpected to occur. Still, construction managers don’t want to be blindsided by surprises especially if they could’ve been averted. So, what’s a reliable way to turn those “uh-oh, I never saw that coming” moments into “I see what’s happening; I’ve got this” confidence?
Again, tracking EVM with technology is going to be the most effective option. Leveraging real-world data from comparable past projects helps strengthen the risk management strategy of the current project. Integrating and analyzing risks that occurred and their actual impact, construction managers can objectively and confidently prepare contingency plans, including risk-adjusted schedules, for those likely risk factors.
Then, as those metrics are automatically tracked in the current project, the software can send alerts in response to EVM values deviating toward the limits of their operating ranges. These deviations serve as a real-time indicator that some internal or external factor is threatening to impact the cost and/or timeline. EVM’s ability to deliver data-driven predictability gives construction managers a chance to identify potential risk factors and bottlenecks so they can take immediate steps to mitigate effects before they become severe — whether implementing an already-prepared contingency plan or creating one on the fly, securing additional resources, or adjusting project scope or timelines to minimize risk.
Taking such a proactive approach helps to build project certainty and confidence in the outcomes by minimizing the likelihood of unanticipated delays, cost overruns and any other surprises that can derail a project.
Improves decision making for budgets, schedules plus resource allocation
The decisions that are made today will have a direct impact on the trajectory of the project tomorrow. Kind of overwhelming given the sheer number of decisions made every day during a long-term, high-stakes capital project.
That begs the question, “What are those decisions based on?” If they’re drawn from outdated data or incomplete information, they’re not likely to yield the best results for the project, especially when time is of the essence and stress is high.
So let’s revisit the earlier statement that “It’s hard to get where you want to go if you don’t know where you are.” It’s going to come back to continuous accurate tracking of project data and the story the numbers are telling about status and performance. Is everything going according to schedule, adhering to the budget, and operating efficiently? By understanding how the numbers answer these kinds of questions, construction managers can prioritize tasks; assign labor, materials and equipment resources; reallocate budget dollars; make adjustments to schedules; and avert risks — the kinds of daily decisions that will ideally ensure projects are completed on time and within budget.
Project certainty becomes more achievable when those decisions are driven by data, and free of emotion, bias and guesswork.
Shows progress with more precise, timely reporting
Building project certainty isn’t just about managing progress; it’s about managing expectations.
With so much on the line, owners understandably have very high expectations for their projects. Thanks to technology with reporting functionality, all that accurate tracking data materializes as project updates that can be customized and distributed to owners and other appropriate recipients during the execution phase.
Robust reports could be considered the “tangible” proof of compliance with owner project expectations. Such reports introduce a level of transparency that has historically been missing in capital projects. Instead, construction managers can know and show unequivocally where things stand, giving stakeholders assurance that the project is well-managed, well-tracked and on target to meet the required outcomes.
By implementing accurate tracking, construction managers can improve project certainty, enhance stakeholder confidence, and increase the chances of project success. Without it, capital projects can quickly become unmanageable, leading to cost overruns, missed deadlines, and a lower quality finished product.
Having the technology in place to make accurate tracking possible can make your job easier and deliver the right data you need at the right time. Wondering what it takes to make this happen? Schedule a brief consultation to share some new insights.
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