Featured image depicting Three essential elements to major capital project success

Three essential elements to major capital project success

The ever-increasing complexity of today’s major capital projects requires a new era of project leaders. The complex, long term mega-project, requires leaders to focus on the desired outcome holistically.

By JMJ  |  November 9, 2021

Today’s major capital projects (MCPs) are increasingly complex. Even the best projects can end up in a tailspin, based on the growing number of contractors, multiple joint venture owners and global work sites. Thinking about the challenges engineering procurement and construction (ECP) contractors working in the US and worldwide face, put me in mind of the work of the Impressionist painter, Monet – bear with me while I explain.

Admired from a distance, Monet’s work creates a spectacular, cohesive vision. Step a little closer and you see how countless individual brush strokes work together to bring the scene to life. Integration on a high risk, major capital project is much like a Monet painting – alignment across thousands of workers, hundreds of contractors and multiple owners is critical for overall success. The complex, long term mega-project, requires leaders to focus on the desired outcome holistically.

Three essential elements to project leadership success

1. Manage team integration

The business landscape is littered with failed mergers and acquisitions and the same can be said of projects. The priority is the integration of teams, processes and technologies. To assure success, a defined project vision, common culture, and agreed upon goals are paramount. Alignment on operating standards, and how to handle issues when things go awry is needed at the outset. Throughout the execution phase, when critical issues arise, alignment is needed to achieve a united solution.

2. Manage work packages like a production line

Consider the fundamentals of world-class manufacturing where immediate actions on quality, safety and operations are preventative versus reactionary. An individual work package may be on track, however, if it’s not in sync with the project as a whole it can create a ripple effect across budget, scope, schedule and/or quality. By breaking down project execution the same way that a manufacturing line operates, immediate quality and safety actions can be achieved across the execution of the project. Work package reviews become an iterative process and are acted on daily with a clear view of what’s ahead.

3. Manage geographical cultural norms

When project execution involves multiple worksites and thousands of workers in geographically dispersed fabrication yards, contractors and joint venture companies find themselves operating in areas of the world they’re unaccustomed to.

In addition, many major project investments in the United States are being led, or jointly owned, by non-US companies. There may be differences in what US construction contractors expect in terms of content and the approach of engineering design packages compared with companies operating outside the region. These cultural and operating complexities, when layered with multiple trade specialties, intensify the risks of failing to integrate the entire execution team early-on. The outcome is constant blockages and costly rework.

To achieve project ROI, today’s leaders need to align individual contractors and owners both culturally and operationally. They then need to step back and take a holistic view of production. With this shift in mindset, the masterpiece project will surely come into view.

About JMJ

For over three decades, JMJ has been delivering impactful cultural change to help executives, leaders and front-line workers transform safety, sustainability, and business performance. We combine the deep experience of our people with our proprietary Transformation Cloud platform to deliver breakthrough results, making the impossible possible. www.jmj.com

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