Three are the main challenges we need to tackle: Complexity, Dynamism and Urgency. Complexity rises dramatically in large capital projects and understanding the actual status of operations goes beyond human capacity, because there are too many variables involved. Besides, changes in your projects are continuous. When you believe you have a clear picture of the status of your project, small changes may generate unexpected consequences. Finally, you need to react fast. Every minute you spend without making the right decision may have huge costs for your organization.
Complexity rises dramatically in large capital projects. In particular, the complexity of the processes related to the preparation, revision, and approval of documentation, management of non-conformities and contract management, to give some examples, increases and becomes difficult to manage. The lack of capacity to predict risks related to the design and execution of projects is not related to the lack of capacity of the experienced professionals leading these projects, but to their complexity, which goes beyond human capacity to control complex ecosystems. Optimum execution of a project depends on a large number of variables, ranging from the lack of execution capacity or financial solvency of providers to delays in reviewing of documentation by clients, or situations where internal resources may not be available because of unexpected workload peaks or because workers are on sick leave, to give some examples. Controlling all these variables and making accurate predictions from the available information manually is a cumbersome task which becomes unfeasible on a daily basis during the execution of a construction project.
Changes in a construction project are continuous. Most tasks go through significant updates in a project lifetime, which results in weekly changes to the project planning. These modifications generate a chain reaction that affects other tasks and the documentation linked to those tasks. Understanding the status of a project at any given time goes beyond human capacity in many large projects, but the challenge becomes several orders of magnitude harder if we consider the dynamism within the project schedule and all the other variables that may jeopardize execution.
In a large capital project, every extra day a decision is delayed may result in large budget overruns and unwanted delays. Effective tools to analyze data related to construction projects are lacking. This lack of effectiveness is most commonly caused by data source heterogeneity. The trend to build software platforms to gather all the tools that may be necessary to manage a complex construction project (documentation management, project schedule management, etc.) clashes with the actual conditions generally established in the contracts signed in large capital projects. These projects usually trust consortia with more than one construction company to reduce risk. In this context, one company may not be able to decide the tools to be used as they may be imposed by another partner in the contract. Additionally, the client may impose tools on the construction company or even organizations may internally de-facto establish policies related to the tools to be used even if they may not be the best fit for a particular project. Therefore, construction projects need to tackle the challenge of managing heterogeneous tools and data sources to be able to make decisions as fast as possible considering as much information as possible.