The construction industry has been fortunate in many respects, given it was able to work through the COVID-19 lockdown. However, this has come at a price, with projects suffering delays and disruption given the significant impacts on productivity caused by social distancing.
Adhering to the 1.5 metre rule and other protocols require a new standard in workplace health and safety measures that have significantly impacted productivity and increased cost. The immediate impacts of social distancing on high-rise projects has meant some teams are taking hours to get to the work front on site because there are a limited number of hoists.
Despite the negatives of reduced productivity and increased cost, the social distancing is at least something that can be planned for, but you never know if you’ll get a COVID-19 infection on site. A few major infrastructure projects in Sydney have been forced to shut down temporarily because of workers being infected and this has significant cost implications for the projects.
The project management and contract administration functions are also now more complicated. The new normal environment is impacting the scheduled progress of works. There is a greater need to mitigate actions to progress client milestones in the face of supply chain and safety issues on site, with consequent commercial impacts to maintain project delivery.
As we navigate our way in the new normal there are some key steps that will assist in the superior delivery of construction projects.
1. Robust planning and programming
The crucial process of planning and programming has never been more important, and we must interrogate programs and tenders with a new ‘COVID-19’ lens.
Principals and contractors will need to develop and review programs and tenders in a new light, considering the need to accommodate social distancing. The requirement to quantify additional time and cost implications and forecast scheduling is a necessary step.
2. Diligent management of contracts
The need to actively manage and administer your contracts is always critical to protecting your rights and securing your entitlements. In these challenging times diligence and care, including record keeping is even more important as the parties to construction contracts encounter new challenges to their efforts to prosecute and defend claims.
3. Project ‘delivery’ approach
The project manager will need to rely on specialised commercial and planning and programming services to gather the intelligence that will guide projects and tenders to successful outcomes. In this environment a project delivery as opposed to a project management offering is necessary to limit the impact of COVID-19.
Successful construction project delivery in the new normal will require the right COVID-19 consistent assumptions to be incorporated in the rigorous planning, programming and forecast scheduling. Contracts will need to be administered with heightened diligence and ultimately projects will need to be ‘delivered’ and not merely managed, by employing specialised commercial advisory, planning and programming intelligence.