Promises vs Reality – What will deliver Infrastructure Efficiency?
When new infrastructure projects are announced it is usually with great fanfare. There’s much focus on the amount of money being invested in the project, how many jobs will be created and the benefits to the public. These are all positives, but the reality is that few infrastructure projects deliver on expectations. Delays and project over-runs have become the norm and when the public raise the question of what happened to all the benefits they were promised, there’s a great deal of back pedaling and excuse making, citing complexities and complications.
Challenges to infrastructure projects
There are some that believe that success can be achieved through better project oversight and so committees are formed and reports are typed up. The problem is that these committees rarely have any positive effect on efficiency or project delivery. If anything it’s the opposite, adding delays because consensus can’t be reached in decision making. So what can help improve infrastructure efficiency?
Learning from reality
If there is a clear takeaway from past project failures is that mistakes and delays are costly. Project estimates are taken as gospel rather than the guesswork they really are. It’s almost a fatalistic approach that says you can’t account for things that go wrong in future. But why are the learnings from past project failures not being applied to ensure better delivery of future projects? It’s not the lack of management or political oversight that’s the problem. It’s a lack of transparency in project fulfillment and failure to take advantage of tools and technologies that can help improve efficiency.
The pandemic gave the construction industry a golden opportunity to reset. To admit that some policies and practices were no longer relevant and should be discarded. Additionally, it highlighted the importance of technology, how it can be applied in multiple aspects of project planning and delivery to help improve overall efficiency. As disruptive as the pandemic has been, it has shown that in a crisis people step up and find solutions because there are few alternatives. Things need to get done.
As many major infrastructure projects start to come online, there will be pressure to deliver as before. Can the construction industry learn from past mistakes? Will it be able to do what needs to be done, innovate when necessary and use the tools and technologies available to ensure that outcomes are met?