Realistic Projects

Projects can be impacted by many factors that can make them quickly turn sour, so how do we mitigate the inherent risks in major projects, which are by their nature complex, requiring multiple stakeholders, perfectly aligned schedules, good luck with the weather and a myriad of other factors all turning out positively? ​​

Based on our experience of supporting the planning, scheduling, costing and risk allocation of projects from across Australia, here are the key things we believe a project needs in order to progress successfully. ​​

Project Need – It seems obvious, but there has to be a genuine need for a project. The need may be immediate, in the short term or as a result of growth and future requirements, but there has to be a clear need for the project. 

Ideally, the need addresses a specific issue facing the community. Take, for example, the Bruce Highway and the plans to improve safety. This project was critical due to Queensland’s major highway being unfit for purpose in many locations with single-lane traffic, numerous bottlenecks, the highway passing through townships, and multiple other perceived and real safety concerns. 

When there is a genuine need for a project, then it is more likely to proceed to a successful delivery, at a faster rate and with the support of the community and stakeholders. This aligns political will and ensures access to funding across multiple tiers of government and translates into approvals, business cases and project funding progressing. 

Civil Project Partners were proud to be part of the Gin-Gin to Benarby cost estimate – read more about the project here.​​

Political Alignment – In an ideal world, politics and infrastructure do not mix and should not be used as a battleground or pork-barreling exercise at election time. Contrast the speed at which the Coomera Connector is developing with by-and-large bipartisan political support with the 15-year development time and political shifting that undermined the original Cross River Rail concept or even the slow approvals and delays associated with Inland Rail.  

Ideally, a congruence between government and opposition parties helps a project to meet less interference and fewer changes in scope, design or delivery, something which gives certainty to industry, stakeholders and the community. Civil Project Partners assisted the D&C consortium during the recent ECI procurement process, read more about the project here.​​

Early Work Is Vital – There is power in planning and risk management with thorough technical investigations into geotech, PUP and the environment. When risks are properly investigated and clearly understood, they have a better chance of being managed successfully. For example, the Coomera Connector had extensive geotechnical, PUP and sensitive issues that were encountered along the route, TMR shared all the previous study information, which enabled the most optimum D&C solution to be applied. Read more about this project here.​​

Investing in Design – A well-resourced design process aligned to clear goals and project outcomes is an efficient design process. Projects often feel like they are progressing at a snail’s pace when the design process is hit with change after change. When the whole process from Business Case to Detailed Design stage occurs with no skips or repeats, then momentum builds and helps projects progress. Civil Project Partners have been involved in various forms of the Caboolture-Bribie Island Road, different sections, whole and part, from Options (2018) through to Business Case (2019), and then repeated Business Case and moved on to Preliminary Design and Detailed Design (2022). Bit of an example of a drawn-out process. ​​

Getting the Scope Right – In times of challenging resources, long-procurement schedules and a highly competitive market for people and materials, getting the scope right makes a huge difference. But that is only the first stage; getting the scope right and aligning all parties to work toward that scope is vital, with collaboration between the client, designer, contractor and the supply chain being a utopian state that would ensure smoother project development.   For example, Civil Project Partners collaborated closely with the designers at GHD on the Rookwood Weir project.  We completed the detailed business case bill of quantities and pricing, working together to ensure the scope was fully covered and suitable for access and understanding by potential project bidders. Read more about this project here.​​

Delivery model matches risk profile – Nobody goes into the construction and infrastructure industry because they have a love of an adversarial process where, in some instances, lawyers and the courts determine whether parties make money or incur massive losses 

Contract mechanisms have typically been adversarial, focussed on penalties rather than rewards and this has ensured that risk is not fairly apportioned, it is often passed from the client to the contractor and then offloaded through the supply chain. Moves to more collaborative contracting models with share risk and reward are desirable and the moves being made in Queensland to fairly apportion risk and increase collaboration are welcomed as well as moves to allow contracts to adjust to counter spikes in material costs. TMR has provided an Annexure E to the TIC-CO contracts to address increase in supply costs. BCC has also followed suit with an Annexure to the contract to manage the increase in fuel and bitumen costs. ​​

A Competitive Market – The perfect environment for project success is a competitive market with a healthy industry supported by a robust supply chain. For clients, this ensures that there are multiple entities prepared to tender and deliver projects, ensures robust and fair pricing and creates innovation through the need to consider new ways to design and deliver projects in order to stand out from the competition. 

With a healthy market, investment in people, skills and technologies are possible as contractors make their margin and if this can be aligned to a robust pipeline of work that enables all parties to share the benefits of a successful project.  CPP recently assisted a contractor on Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) cost estimate for a tender, with only two tenderers.

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