Northern Builder Magazine Issue 27-1

Page 46


expert analysis on...


The importance of project planning


he latest press information tells us that the majority of Government contracts are completed late, resulting in unhappy clients and contractors who end up not only out of pocket financially, but also receiving negative publicity. The majority of these contracts start with a programme agreed between all parties. So what is the problem? Why do so many contracts end with compensation events, delays and, in serious cases, arbitration and litigation? A detailed contract programme should be developed before the commencement of a project. To ensure best results, fully collaborative discussions between the client representatives and supply chain members will be key to the development of a wellplanned and workable programme. These should include procurement, construction and commissioning information and should be reviewed continuously. To ensure all parties feed into this process, programme workshops provide an open forum to discuss procurement, lead-in times and realistic work periods for each element of the works, supplying detailed information at an early stage and highlighting elements which cannot be extended. A regular review of planned and completed work will ensure all parties are working together, to the programme, and with the same aim ‘to complete the project on time, within budget and to the required quality’.

COLLABORATIVE WORKING The introduction of NEC3 contracts was designed to improve collaborative working where all task durations, labour and plant, float and delays are notified to all parties simultaneously, allowing issues to be identified early (Early Warning Notice), resolved quickly (Compensation Event),

and delays/costs minimised (Time Risk Allowance/Terminal Risk Allowance). This has worked to some degree, but when money, quality and time become an issue, differences of opinion can arise, as with any contract. Reporting, which shows the client the programme’s progress to date, is normally carried out monthly. Any delays or issues are discussed and hopefully resolved at the monthly progress meetings. From the programme, there should be a series of subprogrammes or detailed programmes: • Sub-programmes developed for sub- contractors showing their element of work. This allows them to focus on their element of work and resource accordingly to complete on time. • Detailed programmes developed for procurement to ensure that lead-in and manufacture durations are factored in for specialist sub-contractors with long lead in times, complex areas of work requiring detailed sequencing and testing and commissioning.

REVIEWS Site managers and planning staff should review the programme daily and collaboratively with individual subcontractors, specialists and internal departments. Any issues around sequencing and logistics should be discussed. Discussions with design teams, clients’ representatives (soft landings) and end-users (end-user training) all need to be factored into the programme, as completion and handover are critical. The introduction of new technology such as BIM, 3D/4D planning software and cloud storage of data has made the sharing of information with team members easier

and faster. This new technology has the aim of improving the flow and quality of information needed to construct a modern building, and from my experience, this seems to be working. For many contractors, their scope of working area has vastly expanded in recent years. No longer are many working within a 20-mile radius of their head office, and the need to open up operations in new locations is required to survive. All this planning, programming, use of digital software and digital communications is vital to the successful completion of a contract. Without close monitoring of all the elements and parties involved, successful completion cannot be achieved. Client satisfaction is still critical to gaining future and repeat works with clients, something O’Hare & McGovern Ltd has clearly proven.

Gordon Sinclair, MCIOB is a committee member of CIOB in Ireland - Northern Centre, and is Planning Manager at O’Hare & McGovern Ltd. He can be contacted at

For more information on the CIOB, contact Mandy Coleman on T: 00353 1 236 9851 or E:



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