Featured image depicting Five steps to achieving high performance on your major capital projects

Five steps to achieving high performance on your major capital projects

Recommended steps to improve performance and meet success criteria on time and on budget.

By JMJ  |  January 6, 2022

The desired outcome of every capital investment is an operating production facility that meets, or exceeds, the expected return on investment (ROI). Project leadership and execution teams almost certainly know the success criteria of the project in terms of scope, cost, and completion schedule. However, they may not be aware of the underlying assumptions around productivity, safety and quality standards that these benchmarks are based on.

The connection between ROI and human performance

The truth is that if the assumptions made in development of the desired ROI were reasonable and realistic based on the external market conditions, projects wouldn’t continue to experience cost overruns and schedule delays. So, what are we missing?

A fundamental that’s sometimes overlooked is the way in which an individual team member’s actions affect quality, safety, and productivity, which in turn impact scope, cost, and schedule. Focusing on human performance and experience with an integral approach impacts the success criteria that ultimately results in high-performance projects.

The intersection of safety, quality, productivity and innovation

A decision or action around a quality issue could positively or negatively affect the safety and productivity of the workforce. A safety incident or workforce productivity issue forces decisions, actions and reactions which affect quality and safety in a positive or negative way.

Safety, quality, productivity, and innovation are interwoven, when one part is pulled in a certain direction, it impacts all the other parts.

What is the thread that connects quality, safety, productivity, and innovation?

Graphic showing the thread that connects quality, safety, production and innovation
Figure 1

The common thread is people; their actions, reactions and the way they use processes and technological tools to affect the safety, quality, and productivity on a project in innovative ways (figure 1).

Because project execution strategies are never linear or static, people need to be flexible and think about their actions integrally. If people are misaligned or acting functionally, even the most efficient process or the most leading-edge technological tools will not produce the required financial return on investment of the asset.

There have been numerous articles written on the cost of quality, with many techniques like six sigma and process improvements implemented to prevent poor quality. However, many of these approaches and processes to achieve high standards in quality, safety and productivity are often looked at independently of each other. Project leaders fail to consider how each of these factors might impact the others.

Five steps to achieving high performance and ROI through human performance

For high performance on complex major capital projects, the decision making and committed actions taken throughout the lifecycle of the project must be based on the interconnectivity of quality, safety, productivity and innovation. Five recommended steps to achieving financial return on your investments are:

  1. Align up front with all leaders to ensure there is a shared understanding of the underlying assumptions for quality, safety, productivity and innovation that formulated the budget, schedule and scope used justifying the financial ROI. Ensure this alignment is reset and reconfirmed at the beginning of each project phase.
  2. Focus on cascading these understandings and model the commitment to the vision of success across all levels in the project, from senior leaderships to the craft workers on site.
  3. Ensure everyone’s understanding, expectations and actions are visible and aligned.
  4. Promote integral thinking. Stimulate proactive behaviors and reactions with a continual cross-check around interdependent cause and effects
  5. Drive a flexible and adaptive leadership culture based on the premise that complex projects never go according to plan.

Leaders need to understand that systematic ROI planning cannot supplant the human factors needed to achieve flawless project execution. Good leaders get the planning right, great leaders deliver the asset return with outstanding human performance.

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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