10 Ways to Keep Your Capital Projects from Being Derailed
It's easy to deliver top-quality results when budgets and timelines aren't an issue. Unfortunately, that's not how the real world works. In today's race to cut costs and work faster, project stakeholders are challenged to meet (and exceed) their goals under increasingly difficult circumstances.
It's a balancing act, to be sure – and one that requires upfront planning, real-time communication, and mobile technology to be successful.
Ahead are ten ways to work quickly and cost-effectively without sacrificing quality.
Stakeholder analysis: With any big capital project comes significant changes, some of which may not be obvious until all is said and done. That’s why it’s important to conduct an upfront stakeholder analysis to identify who will be impacted by the project and who has a stake in its success. Ultimately, the purpose is to determine who needs to be influenced, in what way, and when.
Establish communications: Having a solid communication plan is fundamental to an efficient capital project. But what does a good plan look like? It's one that ensures all stakeholders are kept in the loop at all stages with clear and consistent messaging. It's also one that encourages constant feedback so issues and miscommunications are dealt with at their sources.
Creating an effective communication plan begins by identifying stakeholders impacted by the project (e.g., stakeholder analysis). The next step is to determine ways in which these stakeholders will be connected throughout the initiative (e.g., meetings, calls, emails, face-to-face, etc.). Finally, it's essential to review your communication plan throughout the project to ensure people are engaged, the messages are clear, and nothing is falling between the cracks.
Stick to the plan: All capital projects are subject to scope creep; that is, the tendency for goals to expand, objectives to become more complicated, and for stakeholders to make unnecessary changes mid-stream. That's why it's important to implement a "zero-tolerance" policy to non-critical changes that are proposed after plans have been finalized.
Define your key performance indicators (KPIs): How will you measure the success of your capital project? By the teamwork? Project milestones? The final outcome? When you establish your unique metrics for success, you'll achieve better team alignment on what matters most.
Assemble the right team: It goes without saying that successful capital projects rely on exceptional teams. That includes people who can navigate cost-constraints and tight deadlines as a team to arrive at quality outcomes. And speaking of which...
Vet your contractors and vendors: A little due diligence goes a long way when it comes to making sure your contractors and vendors are up for the job and equipped to deliver the best results. The ideal recommendation comes from someone you know and trust, but a great source of new sources is often other contractors and vendors you trust. For example, one of your contractors may know of a plumbing company that’s done a good job in the past.
Consistent training: Assembling the right team is only step one. The next is making sure they have the skills and knowledge to excel in their given roles. Before you set them to task, ensure they have the training to do their jobs, and that additional education is available to address any gaps, fresh talent, or new challenges that arise throughout the project.
Stay on track: Tracking objectives and timelines can be difficult over time, especially when new challenges or urgent issues throw best-laid plans off course. Herein, it's important to define project roles, responsibilities, and processes when it comes to tracking budgets and schedules.
Double-check dependencies: A capital project has many moving parts, so it's vital to ensure your schedule takes dependent items into account (e.g., renovation projects might require crews to remove a floor before installing kitchen cabinets). There may also be instances where a contractor’s availability (or lack of availability) may require you to change the schedule or go with your second choice.
Use tech to your advantage: There is a wealth of technologies that enhance collaboration, accelerate tasks, track progress, and make teams run smoother. Look for easy-to-use tools that your employees will actually want to use to give your team the edge.
Every capital project is subject to strict deadlines and cost considerations. That doesn't mean quality has to take a back seat. With the right technologies and team strategies, it's more than possible to get the job done right.