What goes into Project Planning and how does it help create better delivery outcomes? David Cox – Project Planning Director at Tetra Tech – shares his perspective.
What is involved in Project Planning and how does Tetra Tech support this?
Project planning ties into the project controls vision of accurately reporting performance measurements that help manage the time element of a project. Ultimately, that instils our clients with greater confidence in delivering their project more efficiently.
At Tetra Tech, we engage in project planning with our clients to provide programmes, schedules, updates, reports, and to measure performance in terms of how much work needs to be completed. We provide all the tools in addition to assurance on programmes that are produced by other parties or within our own internal project teams.
Programme-wise, our team prioritises the avoidance of disputes, and the expertise we provide benefits greatly from the fact that our people understand the ins and outs of the construction process and can articulate that in a programme. As a multidisciplinary consultancy with experts working across various fields, there’s a deep well of knowledge for them to draw on to improve efficiencies.
How is Project Planning changing? Where is it headed?
It is moving quite rapidly. In general, project planning continues to benefit yearly from the digitisation of reports and more innovative controls. We are supporting our clients with auto-regenerating data sheet templates and dashboards, for instance, that provide almost instant and reliable information.
One of the biggest changes in the industry has been a shift towards 4D BIM, or 4-dimensional building information modelling, where all aspects of the planning process like time- and scheduling-related information is intuitively linked with 3D Computer-Advanced Designs (CAD). This is something contractors already do today and it allows project participants to view and interact with 3D models of buildings while also visualising a timeline of progress updates, risks, physical activities, and much more. You can scroll through your model to assess where you should be and use that tool to plan your logistics properly so you haven’t put your site offices, for example, somewhere where they’re going to conflict with other activity. It’s massively beneficial.
How does good project planning benefit organisations on their developments?
The great thing about project planning is that, if done right, everyone benefits from increased efficiencies. Programmes can be profiled so we know exactly when expenditures are due to occur. We use the turnover of the value of a project as a performance measurement, which helps us avoid surprises for the client and for us.
If last month, for instance, it turns out we should have done £2m worth of work on a project and we only did £1m, we’re not all of a sudden going to do a million extra next month to recover. The programme and turnover value tells you beforehand that you have an issue that needs dealing with.