Five ideas for achieving high-quality project delivery in times of economic uncertainty

Amid and following the coronavirus pandemic, construction companies will need to evaluate which projects may be cancelled, delayed or progress as planned, whilst everyone works out how to navigate through these unprecedented times.

They will need to assess a range of implications and take the necessary action. For example, compliance with current social distancing requirements, health and safety, risk exposure, the percentage of the project already completed in terms of deliverables/deadlines met, budget, sub-contractors and the supply chain, financial risk from delayed or outstanding payments – these are all likely areas of concern and when present, may require the need to issue Contractual Notifications in compliance with the Building Contract.

A Q&A session with Andrew Rapmund, Associate Director and Chartered Project Manager at Summers-Inman.

Andrew Rapmund, Associate Director and Chartered Project Manager at Summers-Inman

Q1. What do you think are the main issues that companies who are either half-way through or planning a new major project will be concerned about currently?

Uncertainty within the economy looks set to result in stakeholders being extremely cautious when making decisions. There will be numerous discussions and negotiations taking place to ensure success for all the project stakeholders involved.

It will therefore be essential for project managers to establish good communication protocols, promote collaboration and a positive attitude within the project team.

Q2. Are there likely to be claims flying around because projects have not been completed on time, in your opinion, and if so, what can be done?

It is likely that time lost on projects will result in contractual claims. However, in my experience, compromise from all stakeholders involved is key in resolving these amicably ensuring the continued success of the project.

You should proactively plan ahead to address foreseeable implications and engage with the contractor, sub-contractors and supply chain, to take the necessary steps to mitigate delays or further delays. 

You may decide to seek alternatives, review the re-sequencing of works, but whatever you do, involve your team on this journey (as everyone has a duty to assist when the project is faced with challenges) and you will discover, that the age old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is quite often true!

My advice is to be proactive and don’t wait until things start to go badly wrong.

Q3. How do you think businesses could best plan for successful project delivery following the experience we have all just been through and are hopefully now emerging from?

Following the Covid-19 experience it is vital to implement any lessons we have learned on future projects.  We must de-risk the future by proactively planning for it.

Seek compromise and expect that things will be different.

Reassure people, promote collaboration and a positive attitude.

Invest in good IT infrastructure!  At Summers-Inman, we were fully operational and working from home by the third week in March.  We have invested heavily in our connectivity and it has really paid off.  Many companies have not – so for them, working from home has been very difficult.  If you fall into this category, it’s possibly time to plan for a major IT investment.

Q4. Can you illustrate any of the points you make with actual projects you have worked on?

Yes, Simonside Primary School. The contractor had to initially shut down the site following the Government’s announcement on social distancing requirements. 

The contractor had to engage with their sub-contractors and supply chain and put additional measures in place to demonstrate compliance. This resulted in a Notice of Delay being issued under the Building Contract having additional costs and programme implications.

Numerous meetings were held to resolve matters amicably with compromises being made by all stakeholders involved. Works are continuing to progress with the contractor using best endeavours to mitigate delays/further delays thus ensuring the continued success of the project.

Image Courtesy of Ryder Architecture

Q5. Why is Summers-Inman best placed to manage high level projects which are very much in the public eye?  What experience, as a team, can you draw on?

This year is a celebration of Summers-Inman’s centenary which demonstrates the company’s resilience and strength to survive through similar challenges faced in the past. It is a company founded on pride, quality, and strong company values. We have an extremely well-respected name in the industry because of the numerous successful and diverse projects we have delivered over the years and we have continued to grow the business.

Andrew is a Chartered Project Manager with over 23 years of experience acting as both client and consultant in managing multi-functional teams, ensuring his schemes are delivered within budget and on time.

His management style is to foster a collaborative, teamwork approach and to draw the very best from the project team. His experience enables him to understand the client’s objectives.  

He has widespread knowledge and expertise in delivering specialist projects for public and private sector clients, which require a more detailed analysis of need; a thorough exploration of options and technical co-ordination to deliver robust solutions.

Andrew joined Summers-Inman in 2019 with the intention of growing the Northern region Project Management team with a special focus on high-quality delivery.

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