Infrastructure projects need to be effectively planned, managed and maintained to ensure successful project implementation. Low project performance can have catastrophic outcomes. How does systematic, centralised project control support successful project implementation?
PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION SUPPORTS DEVELOPMENT
Countries rely on public infrastructure for their economic growth and global competitiveness.
Networks of infrastructures need to supply electricity, water, transport, communications and waste disposal across vast terrestrial and human geographies. Infrastructure enables essential services that support the livelihoods of citizens and establishes a favorable environment for investment.
Successful project implementation means productive, safe and competitive socio-economic environments. Alternatively, as we shall see, low performance can translate into catastrophe!
THE COST OF FAILURE
On 13 June 2017, angry rail commuters in Cape Town’s CBD turned to violence in protest against persistent train delays. The riot, which included the burning of two trains, looting and other vandalism, did not erupt in a vacuum. Rail delays have hit commuters hard, most of them representing the most vulnerable of populations in a city region ravaged by drought and more recent winter cold. On this day, two of four 11kV power feeds available to operate the train service were unavailable. The two remaining ones were overloaded, after which the electricity supply tripped, and trains all over the network were halted, some for over two hours. Yet this was not an isolated incident.
According to one commuter, the service provider, Metrorail, doesn’t take their customers seriously. Delays affect job security. When employees are consistently late for work, employers threaten their livelihoods. Moreover, delays threaten the physical security of those traveling home late at night in dangerous city environments. “How”, according to this commuter, “are we supposed to go home? Our kids are waiting for us, broer [brother]. It’s about 10 [pm] you can see for yourself … ”.
Consistent delays due to infrastructure failure has damaged Metrorails’ public image. One comment on the Metrorail website read: “It is late. Can’t remember when last trains were on time. Late for work as a result. Your service is pathetic, trains are dirty and vandalised. Why do you not protect your assets? If you do that there will be less delays.”
The combination of aging and/or obsolete infrastructure/technology, neglected maintenance, theft of electric cables and inadequate public communications exacerbated a situation where Cape Town’s rail-transport sector was plumited into a service delivery crisis - a crisis that evinces the cost of infrastructure failure.
PROJECT CONTROL THROUGH INFORMATION AND VISIBILITY
In an Infrastructure Asset Management (IAM) context, project control means that those charged with infrastructure projects are able to respond competently and efficiently to the widest possible stakeholder interests, including:
Successful infrastructure project management relies on the strategic use of information to cultivate project-wide visibility. Investment decisions, aligned with national, provincial and municipal objectives, must be informed by actionable information. Following these decisions through to successful completion in turn depends on cultivating complete visibility.
Actionable information can be aggregated from organisational data consolidated in a central repository or data platform.
Visibility involves cultivating a project wide understanding among all stakeholders via communication, collaboration, clarity and transparency.
Complex infrastructure projects are more easily controlled when they are planned and scheduled, monitored and reported on. A central data platform, such as the IMQS Project Control System, enables near real-time updates that inform stakeholders at all levels and functional points – establishing a single comprehensive view of a project or programme.
Access to up-to-date information from one central point enables decision-making, informs the mitigation of risk and facilitates communication. Ultimately, the benefits of comprehensive project control via one centralised information management system helps to:
Eliminate wasteful spending
Select the right projects
Allocate the right resources
Ensure on-time and on-budget completion
Cope with changes and manage risks