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Problem Projects: Getting Construction Back on Track

Many CEOs of a large construction companies are feeling the heat despite it being winter. Maybe a current project, a 40-story office tower in the urban center, is increasingly veering off target—and even the most optimistic superintendents are concerned that the baseline schedule is unattainable. How do business owners get this problematic project back on track?

This article was published on Construction Executive on December 6th 2021

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Many CEOs of a large construction companies are feeling the heat despite it being winter. Maybe a current project, a 40-story office tower in the urban center, is increasingly veering off target—and even the most optimistic superintendents are concerned that the baseline schedule is unattainable. How do business owners get this problematic project back on track?

Every serious general contractor or developer has experienced various versions of this scenario. Large-scale development is complex—and a project timeline encompassing years between launch and completion goes hand-in-hand with exposure to risks of delay. Adverse weather conditions, material defects, equipment malfunction, supply chain issues and labor shortages are all common occurrences impacting on-time delivery. 

Though the risks and challenges are inherent and largely universal—the solutions required are entirely project-specific. To overcome the resulting delays, general contractors must anticipate probable challenges before they occur and equip themselves with the tools and insight required to adapt at a moment’s notice.

For companies looking to rescue problem projects, here are three important tips.

CONTINUALLY ASSESS THE PROJECT SCHEDULE

A seemingly small delay can snowball into a major crisis on large-scale projects, which often include multiple layers of interdependent tasks. At the first sign of troubles that might impact project timelines, it’s best to proactively reassess the baseline schedule.

On complex projects with myriad moving parts, using an artificial intelligence-based tool for project scheduling can help save valuable time and resources—allowing general contractors and their staff to skip the tedious process of manual schedule adjustments and seamlessly flow changes throughout the entire project. Current site conditions can be analyzed swiftly and efficiently to determine the overall impact to project outcomes. When larger adjustments are required, an AI-driven solution can identify and suggest scheduling options that help maintain project momentum.

CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVES

With liquidated damages looming in the future, general contractors are incentivized to do anything within their power to protect the bottom line—yet the most common approach is simply to throw more labor at the problem and hope for the best. Few general contractors focus on working smarter instead of harder. But AI-based tools can use models of existing data to simulate and assess alternative scenarios. What happens if two cranes are used simultaneously instead of just one? Would constructing columns in sequence be more or less efficient than building them in concert? Can tasks be reordered to circumvent downtime? What about maximizing labor time onsite through a focus on improving materials staging and site-flow efficiency? 

With the ability to analyze thousands of options in just a few minutes, general contractors can identify the most efficient alternatives for maintaining constructibility—and exactly which steps should be taken to pick up the pace.

MAKE PROJECT DATA WORK FOR YOU

Tracking costs—for a specific project and throughout the entire company—supports on-time delivery, and is critical to project rescue. Access to detailed information affecting particular projects (Which supplier ships fastest? How often does a contractor overschedule? Will the municipality commit to specific inspection dates?) can help general contractors adapt quickly to unforeseen challenges—as well as inform future planning. 

When using an AI-based solution, project data is consolidated, analyzed and drawn on to inform project planning and scheduling—identifying hidden risks as well as potential solutions. This deep insight not only streamlines the resolution of challenges as they arise, but also allows general contractors to address likely challenges proactively as they move forward. 

Backed by accurate and comprehensive information on project cost and completion, general contractors can quickly and effectively predict and prioritize the challenges most likely to occur for specific project types, estimate financial impact and outline best practices for future projects. Even better, AI-driven project tracking enables general contractors and developers to leverage historical data in future proposals and bids, highlight their problem-solving capabilities, emphasize achievements and prove their ability to succeed—regardless of challenging circumstances.

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