Modernize Project Controls or Suffer the Consequences

construction-industry-modernizationDon’t get hit by a bus!

The construction industry is rapidly transitioning from old-school legacy and ad-hoc tools to modern, forward-looking solutions. With this industry shift in mind, which would you prefer: getting the license plate of the bus that just hit you or being warned that a bus is coming toward you?

In other words, would you prefer to stick with the status quo, spending valuable team resources searching and tracking, or would you prefer using modern technology to provide timely reporting and forward looking insights so your team can plan, analyze and execute effectively?

Leading construction projects and organizations are choosing the latter – and are reaping the benefits of timely and impactful information.  Those who don’t make the move to updated technology will simply be left behind.

This warning is one of several key messages delivered by AECOM and FTI Consulting during our Aconex webinar, “Modernizing Project Controls to ensure Project Success.”

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

This phrase is fitting for those who elect not to use modern technology to manage processes and deliver projects. Even within the past five years, the construction industry has matured. Adopting new technology is no longer risky; not adopting it is.

Project size and complexity are growing, driven both by demand and engineering technology.  New contract models are being put in place to respond to this complexity, but bring with them other challenges, including cross organization collaboration, reporting requirements and distributed project risk. Cutting-edge industry leaders are shifting from cost reporting to cost management, moving away from the pack and reinforcing their position as leaders.

3 golden rules to modernize project controls

During the Aconex webinar, FTI Consulting talks about the importance of empowering project professionals to tackle high-value work. Projects will be more successful when teams plan ahead (analyze, plan and execute) instead of spending their time looking for and tracking information (searching and tracking to create reports which ironically are outdated upon completion).

  • Rule #1: Automate as much as you can.
  • Rule #2: Use configurable systems to manage your processes and information across the project lifecycle.
  • Rule #3: Implement open solutions that connect to other systems for project-wide insights.

Today’s solutions are more complete and user-friendly

If you’ve assessed project controls solutions over the past five years and felt daunted by the cost and effort of implementing a new system, you’re not alone. Fortunately, times have changed. These days, implementation happens in days and weeks; not months. We’ve graduated from numerous stand-alone systems that don’t communicate with each other – leading to error-prone double entry – to consolidated solutions that store information in one place, greatly minimizing errors.

Cloud-based systems provide easy, secure access from anywhere. Configurable solutions adapt to how you manage your processes and business.  A modern system provides forward looking insights and connects cost, schedule and scope. Less time is spent in training and implementation and more time is spent making good decisions and executing your projects successfully. Since many of the old-school  systems are rigid, teams end up relying on non integrated side-solutions to help manage their processes, but modern systems are integrated, flexible and have the functionality to manage all of your project processes.

What should you expect from modern project controls systems?

Raise your expectations! Modern project controls systems were designed to be easily configurable, to interface with your other project solutions and to be forward looking.

You can expect:

  • Instant visibility into project status and health
  • Project-wide access to the right information by the right people at the right time
  • An integrated system on a single platform to understand how scope and schedule changes impact project cost

Your first steps to modernizing project controls

It’s important to consider these three questions before adopting new technology.

  1. What are your company and project priorities?
  2. What are the common pain points across your projects?
  3. What are your goals?

Kim McAvoy, AECOM Global Director of Major Program Solutions, shares AECOM’s approach to choosing and adopting new technology and processes. Her team carefully evaluates a team’s needs before recommending and implementing technology solutions. Kim’s group conducts a thorough discovery process with the project team(s) to understand their challenges, goals, and how they plan to implement and use the solution.

“Our process ensures project teams have ownership of their solution. We never inflict our recommendation on a project team,” Kim said. Her department also tracks project teams’ system adoption and execution to ensure the technology is successfully implemented.

How do organizations foster an innovative, forward-thinking culture?

Kim suggests the following steps to promoting technological innovation in the workplace:

  1. Find and nurture the supportive resources within your company before implementing a new solution.
  2. Recruit new talent with innovation in mind.
  3. Ensure company executives lead by example to promote the value of innovation within the organization.
  4. Take a collaborative approach to when selecting and implementing new systems.
  5. Leverage historical project data to help improve future projects and boost predictability.

By following the above steps, AECOM managed a $1B transportation program with only 7 team members. In the past, without a modern project controls solution, this would have taken fifteen staff to just manage cost.

In another example, AECOM managed a high profile, greenfield $26B project with a global team consisting of multiple world-renown designers, public agencies, multiple currencies and contracting requirements. AECOM’s standardized approach to project systems helped these stakeholders use historical data from similar projects to successfully complete their greenfield project. AECOM implemented a cost control system with the flexibility and power to manage all aspects of this complex program. “With the power of our project controls solution, we managed complex cost aspects with fewer project controls staff. Our project managers were able to make timely decisions on this fast moving project thanks to real-time, projective reporting,” said Kim.

Summary

Adopting a modern project controls system can greatly improve how your project teams and organization operate. These days, project controls are collaborative, integrated and flexible, meaning that your entire team is accessing the same tool, proactively seeing the cost impacts of schedule and scope changes, and managing processes YOUR way.

Transitioning from being reactive to proactive is a game changer in this industry and will ensure your organization doesn’t get left behind.

Join the leaders – View full on-demand webinar with AECOM and FTI Consulting

Janet Poses

Janet Poses

Sr. Manager Global Industry Solutions at Aconex
Janet Poses is a Sr. Manager Global Industry Solutions at Aconex, the world's leading collaborative construction and engineering management software.
Janet Poses