How to Measure Success for a Project

Definitions of project success can vary according to the circumstances and stakeholder viewpoint. A clear definition of expected project success, translated in terms of project objectives, is however essential at the outset to ensure that actual performance can be compared to expectations. In our new White Paper [2022-12] ‘How to Measure Success for a Project’, we review different possible definitions and how they can be combined to support performance target definition.

Project success can be defined in multiple ways depending on the viewpoint, and success factors can often be contradictory. Definition of project success thus requires the usage of balanced scorecards to be established as a reference set of targets. Key stakeholders, including key suppliers, should be aligned on the most important objectives. In addition, a clear prioritisation of success factors needs to be defined at the outset to drive decision-making when the project is faced with evolving circumstances. Final evaluation of project success compared to initial expectations is also not straightforward as circumstances and markets may have changed significantly in the meantime, but it remains a useful exercise for continuous improvement of the decision-making process.

Read our new White Paper [2022-12] ‘How to Measure Success for a Project’ to understand better how to define a project success balanced scorecard.

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-12_different_measures_project_success_v1.pdf

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How to Overcome 3D Model Issues and Limits for Industrial Projects

3D models are increasingly used during the design of industrial facilities. However, their implementation in that field is much less advanced than in other industries such as aerospace or automotive where this tool has proven to deliver significant value, most of it linked to increased collaboration with the entire supply chain. Industrial facility design 3D models are often incomplete and as-build model data is not comprehensively gathered. In our new White Paper (2022-11] ‘How to Overcome 3D Model Issues and Limits for Industrial Projects’ we explore the current situation, its causes, and what can be done to improve and release the value of modern 3D modelling in the field of industrial projects.

Usage of 3D models in industrial infrastructure projects appears to be rather in its infancy leading to the inability to exploit the potential value of such integrated collaborative platforms that can digitally gather valuable data. The main issue is the digital gaps across the value chain. Only a decisive investment by owners and main contractors will allow to develop workable approaches. A substantial change management and incentivisation will also need to be deployed across the value chain (suppliers and subcontractors) to ensure they adopt new ways of working using a common platform. We expect this to be a major issue in the next few years possibly leading to differentiation in terms of competition across the industrial infrastructure project value chains. In particular, the digital discontinuity across the project value chain appears to be the main issue to be addressed

Read our new White Paper (2022-11] ‘How to Overcome 3D Model Issues and Limits for Industrial Projects’ to understand better how the usage of 3D models can be significantly improved in large industrial projects!

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-11_3D_model_issues_limits_v1.pdf

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How to Prepare for Very Long Industrial Projects

Some industrial projects or programmes can span over very long periods of time for their development phase or even for their execution phase, much more than the typical 3-4 years cycle. Typical examples include nuclear power plants, or very large energy or infrastructure developments. Extreme examples of projects spanning over several decades include nuclear decommissioning or waste disposal facilities. Such long projects generally show a lower success ratio. Specific measures must be contemplated when setting up those projects to address the challenge of their expected duration. Our new White Paper 2022-10 ‘How to Prepare for Very Long Industrial Projects’ exposes some of those challenges and how to prepare for them.

Specific caution should be exercised when contemplating projects which development or execution phases exceeds 3 to 4 years because of the additional complexity involved. Measures must be planned and included in the estimate to cater for the major impacts in terms of human resources, governance, preservation and maintenance, and information systems, that can be sometimes significant both in terms of project resources and budget. In addition, the challenges will easily span across the entire supply chain requiring extensive coordination of all contributors. Because of the importance and reach of the actions needed we believe that a specific executive position should be designated within the project organisation with sufficient overview and authority to address such challenges in a proactive manner.

Read our new White Paper 2022-10 ‘How to Prepare for Very Long Industrial Projects’ to understand better what needs to be anticipated when your project exceeds 3-4 years in execution.

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-10_Special_XXLong_duration_projects_v1.pdf

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How to Foster Digital Data Capture during Project Construction to Enable Powerful Dashboarding

Capture of relevant digital data is the first step to enable the implementation of improvements generated by data analysis. Digitalisation for the execution of large projects encounters two main obstacles. The first is that it is difficult to encourage on-the-ground live data capture. The second is the management of organizational boundaries across the many contributors (contractors, sub-contractors) engaged in project realization, which are also digital boundaries. Solutions emerge that enable consistent data capture and management across the entire project, allowing reactive dashboarding at the project and even portfolio level; and paving the way for future transformations of project execution. Our new White Paper 2022-09 ‘How to Foster Digital Data Capture during Project Construction to Enable Powerful Dashboarding’ explores current possibilities to dramatically increase project execution digitalisation.

foreman in the construction site controls the project on tablet

To allow digitalisation, timely capture of accurate data, suitably completed by metadata is essential. All words are important in the sentence: capture needs to be timely – this ensures reactiveness and also avoids data being reported in hindsight. Accuracy is also essential not to feed misleading data in the system; this requires a minimum level of oversight and checks. Finally, data needs to be enriched through e.g. pictures and all metadata that can be captured passively from a modern mobile device: GPS location, time, user secure identification, etc. Different solutions can be implemented from automated capture of data to manual capture on connected devices.

Most IT applications are limited by organisational boundaries. Reasons include conventional IT architecture restrictions, data protection and access restrictions, and the reluctance to share data with potential (future) competitors. In projects where the contracting strategy always involves many simultaneous contractors at several levels, this is a strong impediment to seamless digital process work. Different approaches are implemented.

Read our new White Paper 2022-09 ‘How to Foster Digital Data Capture during Project Construction to Enable Powerful Dashboarding’ to have more insight on the different practices, their advantages and drawbacks.

Digitalisation of construction will definitely bring substantial competitive advantage to those companies that embark on the journey, allowing a finer allocation of resources, significant increase in reactivity and tracking of issues. The key to this transformation lies in effectively capturing site data at the source. Proven solutions exist today that enable this crucial step and therefore, all the subsequent value propositions. Implementing those solutions should be a priority in an increasingly competitive construction market.

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-09_digital_capture_dashboarding_v1.pdf

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How to Include Digital Physical Progress Measurements in Capital Project Control Setups

Getting an accurate measure of physical progress is essential to maintain capital projects under control. New technology is getting deployed on projects based on advanced imaging (digital photography, 4D scans, drones) often associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI). This remains an emerging discipline and does not cover the full scope of the project. In our new White Paper 2022-08 ‘How to Include Digital Physical Progress Measurements in Capital Project Control Setups’, we explore the possibilities offered by this new technology and the challenges that must be overcome to include those digital measurements in the overall project control framework.

A reliable measure of physical progress is essential data for knowing the current state of the project (where we are). Having this reliable foundation is also essential for any forecasting activity (where we are heading).

Measuring physical progress requires up-to-date reports on the status of certain indicators identified as representative of physical progress. Two practical problems arise:

  • The relevance of the choice of indicators
  • The accuracy of the data, which requires quality and reliability of the progress measurement

Digital technology allows us to respond to the immediacy challenge of the availability of data. It can make it possible to significantly increase the data capture frequency. It also allows automatic processing of data (by aggregation, analysis, etc.) provided that it is correctly coded at its origin. Digital can also enable data to be captured at a greater level of detail, closer to operations.

Read our new White Paper 2022-08 ‘How to Include Digital Physical Progress Measurements in Capital Project Control Setups’ for an update on current digital capture technology and on using AI for physical progress measurement. The White Paper also covers issues that need to be overcome to fully benefit from digital capture of physical progress.

Many initiatives exist and some progress is made towards integrating digital physical progress data in project control setups. However, this requires a particular effort at project start-up as the amounts of data thus generated must be specified, coded, and checked to fit into the overall project control setup. Project professionals must recognize that this focus has to be included in project setup plans and that this issue also needs to be addressed in the requirements to the specific contractors and subcontractors that will be involved in the project. Early consideration of such solutions is thus paramount to their successful implementation in projects.

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-08_digital_physical_progress_v1.pdf

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How to Manage Long Term Industrial Capex Programmes That Get Approved Piecemeal

Owners sometimes decide to proceed on a series of successive industrial capital expenditure projects that form a full and consistent programme but get approved progressively. This can reflect particular financing constraints or a general approach to allow more flexibility and adaptation to the market circumstances. When individual projects get approved, the consistency with the overall programme must also be checked and maintained. In our new White Paper 2022-07 ‘How to Manage Long Term Industrial Capex Programmes That Get Approved Piecemeal’, we investigate practices needed to ensure sufficient control is maintained by the owner.

In certain circumstances, capital investment programmes can be split and approved piecemeal. This is actually quite a common practice in certain cases. Examples include upgrades to a number of existing facilities along a full industrial value chain (such as for mining and chemical value chains that may involve several sites across the world), or a number of upgrades within a single industrial compound. This can also apply to greenfield projects, for example, development of a mine first without a processing plant, and later or separate development of the processing facilities, or the progressive development of an oil field through successive Capex projects. This will also apply if the financing schemes of the various projects in the programme are different.

Proceeding with such an approach will allow progressive investment and possible adaptation of individual projects scopes to the current condition of the economy and other external factors that may warrant flexibility and adaptation.
Irrespective of the successive approval of several projects within an overall programme, it is still essential to maintain a view on the overall consistency of the scopes including standardisation and interfaces between projects. Therefore, a sufficient minimum programme management oversight must still be implemented.

Read our new White Paper 2022-07 ‘How to Manage Long Term Industrial Capex Programmes That Get Approved Piecemeal’ for more insights about the risks and good practices for capital programmes that get approved progressively.

When individual projects within a programme get approved piecemeal over time, it is still essential to preserve the overall value and strategic intent to maintain a programme vision. This only requires a limited effort and team, however, the voice of the programme must be formalized and heard as part of all those projects’ governance and key decision gates to make sure the organisation actually reaps the expected benefits of the full programme.

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-07_Managing_Long_Term_Programmes_v1.pdf

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How To Adapt to the Increasing Share of Financial Owners for Capital Projects

An increasing proportion of large industrial and infrastructure owners are pure financial players. Such owners lack the deep industry and technology experience of more traditional industrial owners. This creates a number of issues in terms of project execution and performance. In our new White Paper 2022-06 ‘How To Adapt to the Increasing Share of Financial Owners’, we investigate the consequences of this trend on owners and contractors for the actual execution of such projects.

Following a general economical trend, pure financial players are increasingly getting involved directly as owners in large industrial and infrastructure projects with the objective to create an asset that will deliver substantial and regular returns over their lifecycle. This can be through special purpose vehicles or directly as funds taking majority equities in projects or industrial operators. Often those financial players will look to exit the project with substantial return on equity at a shorter horizon than the infrastructure lifetime through refinancing exercises (typically 5-7 years); financial owners actually only concentrate on the project development phase.

While usually very cognizant about financial structuring, financial owners have much less competency on technical or industry-specific aspects. Beyond hiring a limited number of industry experts to help frame their investments, they thus generally seek the support of owner assistance or project management contractors to effectively deliver the projects. They will also often delegate asset operations and maintenance to third party companies. However, this setup may also create issues and project performance concerns, in particular in the following areas:

  • Excessive expectations regarding project and asset performance,
  • Lack of competence of the owner to drive the right technical decisions during project definition and execution, in the interest of the full lifecycle value of the asset. This is also linked to poor governance including inadequate control of key project milestones,
  • Lack of alignment of interests between owner and owner assistance leading to decision delays. This additional complexity may have a significant impact on project delivery.

Read our new White Paper 2022-06 ‘How To Adapt to the Increasing Share of Financial Owners’ for more details on those issues and how to manage them.

The trend towards financial pure players as owners for major industrial and infrastructure projects reinforces the need to have a clear view of the minimum skills and competency that an owner needs to have and cannot delegate – even to apparently benevolent owner assistance contractors. General expectations in terms of owner competency apply, and financial owners must be ready to internalise a limited number of experienced project personnel that will allow them to effectively drive project performance and avoid being taken hostage by contractors.

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-06_impact_increasing_financial_clients_v1.pdf

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Why Project Funding Must be Considered Earlier in Project Development for Owners

Many owners of large projects consider project financing to be a somewhat independent exercise from project development, often delegated to the finance department. However, our experience shows that financing participates deeply in project strategic development. In addition, it is essential to avoid delays in final investment decisions due to financing issues. In our new White Paper 2022-05 ‘Why Project Funding Must be Considered Earlier in Project Development for Owners’ we explore best practices in the field of project financing from the perspective of overall project development.

Most large and complex projects require some financing setup beyond the main owner’s internal resources, and external funding is actually an increasing trend for major infrastructure and energy projects. This financing can take many forms and lead to setups of various degrees of complication, and will include a combination of the following:

  • International / multilateral institutions financing (development bank for the continent or country)
  • Export Credit Agencies
  • Capital-level financing: partnerships, financial market/market introduction of ad-hoc project entity, private equity
  • Debt: commercial banks, etc
  • Government subsidies and tax rebates
  • Future client funding (may include a production take-off commitment)

Financing does influence project development and later project execution at several levels. Many owners being focused on the technical and project management aspects of project definition tend to start the setup of project financing relatively late, however, our experience shows that this often creates substantial performance issues for the project. Read our new White Paper 2022-05 ‘Why Project Funding Must be Considered Earlier in Project Development for Owners’ to understand better how financing must be taken early and how it influences project development.

Project financing is an increasingly important topic for large industrial projects. Many owners consider this to be an independent exercise that can be performed in parallel to project development. However, it is an integral part of project definition and project financing must be integrated within the project team. Also, it has to be considered early enough; we recommend the overall financing strategy to have been set prior to embarking into the Detailed Feasibility Study (DFS) phase, even if the final parameters will only be set at Final Investment Decision (FID).

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-05_consider_funding_earlier_V1.pdf

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How the Essential Purpose of the Integrated Project Schedule is to Coordinate Project Contributors

In projects, various schedules are being used: contractual schedule, strategic schedule, integrated project schedule, and more detailed schedules covering only part of the scope. The integrated project schedule, fully linked and covering the complete project scope, can effectively be used to coordinate all contributors which is actually its main objective.
In our new White Paper 2022-04 ‘How the essential purpose of the Integrated Project Schedule Purpose is to Coordinate Project Contributors’, we investigate how this function translates in terms of differences with other schedules and in terms of information needed in integrated project schedules.

Integrated project schedules are essential in projects. Those fully linked schedules cover the complete project scope and provide the main reference in terms of project execution and decision-making (refer to White Paper 2015-14 ‘How to Build a Proper Project Schedule Hierarchy’ and White Paper 2015-18 ‘How to Produce an Adequate Integrated Project Schedule’). Unfortunately, they are often much too detailed which creates quality and accuracy issues (refer to White Paper 2012-28 “How too much Detailed Planning often Kills Project Success”).

The main purpose of the integrated project schedule is to coordinate the various contributors of the project. No other schedule can accomplish this. This implies a number of properties and characteristics that are described in detail in the White Paper.

The purpose of the integrated project schedule is to coordinate all project contributors. This purpose should not be overseen. As a consequence, it should focus on interfaces between such contributors without delving much into each contributor detailed activities. This is really the differentiator with any other schedule used in the project hierarchy. This is worth remembering when setting it up, because this purpose will inform how it is setup and coded. Read our new White Paper 2022-04 ‘How the essential purpose of the Integrated Project Schedule Purpose is to Coordinate Project Contributors’

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-04_integrated_schedule_contributor_mgt_v1.pdf

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How To Better Use the Project Schedule as a Communication Tool

The integrated project schedule is an essential tool for piloting the project, and it also needs to be used to coordinate contributions. In our project reviews we observe that project schedules are too often not communicated systematically to project team members, which misses the point. In our new White Paper 2022-03 ‘How To Better Use the Project Schedule as a Communication Tool’, we explore why schedules are not actively communicated and what solutions can be put in place to achieve this objective.

Projects invest a lot of resources and effort in schedule management. Proper maintenance and forecasting using the integrated project schedule and more detailed schedules is essential for proper project piloting and taking decisions. (refer to White Paper 2015-14 ‘How to Build a Proper Project Schedule Hierarchy’ and White Paper 2015-18 ‘How to Produce an Adequate Integrated Project Schedule’).

One of the objectives of schedule management is also to ensure schedule data is communicated to all contributors. This is an essential action for actual synchronisation of all contributions and will also provide feedback that is useful for maintaining a realistic schedule. However, irrespective of possible weaknesses in the field of updating and reforecasting the integrated project schedule, we too often observe that the schedule is not systematically communicated to project team members. How can they then know what is expected from them and when?

In addition to those relatively conventional schedule sharing approaches, some advanced techniques can also be used based on the observation of the slippages between the few last schedule updates.

It is quite amazing that although projects expend significant effort and resources on schedule management, they tend to use only a limited value from the full dataset thus created. By exploiting historical variations between each schedule update and observing how key dates and floats evolve with respect to key project convergence points, a lot of insight can be gained on the actual trends of project execution (refer to White Paper 2016-06 “How to Use Float Monitoring Techniques”).

Too many projects expend significant effort on scheduling while exploiting little of its potential benefits. It is essential to ensure that integrated project schedule updates are widely communicated to make sure all contributors know what is expected and thus can coordinate their actions. Various approaches can easily be deployed to achieve a much-improved communication. In addition, advanced visualisations like float and key milestones monitoring over several successive schedule updates can also provide deep insights into project trends

If you can’t access the link to the white paper, copy and paste the following link in your browser: https://www.projectvaluedelivery.com/_library/2022-03_need_extend_schedule_comm_v1.pdf

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