Successful delivery of mega-projects

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Gupta, Ashish, Ph. D.

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The term "mega-projects" is generally used to describe those projects whose capital budgets exceed one billion dollars. Many recent studies assessing the performance of mega-projects have concluded that cost and schedule overruns are common in all industry segments and world regions. Mega-projects are of importance not only to the stakeholders involved in development and construction, but also to the societies, economies, and environments impacted by these projects. There are very few studies that provide guidance on the effective planning and execution of megaprojects. Given the enormous amount of capital dollars at stake and the prevailing trend towards poor performance, the Construction Industry Institute initiated Research Team 315 (RT 315), Successful Delivery of Mega-projects, to attempt to identify why these failures happen and what can be done to prevent or reduce mega-project performance failures. The primary research question the team was tasked to find answer was: "What sorts of changes in project development and execution are needed to increase the likelihood of success on mega-projects?" After conducting a thorough literature review the RT finalized the following two hypothesis to validate (1) there are factors that have higher occurrence and performance impacts on mega-projects. (2) These factors require changes in mega-project planning and execution to improve the chances of successful outcomes. Through preliminary interviews, surveys, follow up interviews and case studies, the research identified 34 impact factors with high occurrence and high negative performance impact on mega-projects. The research also prioritized the most impactful factors that should be avoided or mitigated to increase the likelihood of successful mega-project outcomes. The research went deeper by identifying specific case examples of how the negative impacts might manifest. Furthermore, for each of the factors, the research identified specific mitigation strategies and recommendations that should be adopted during front-end-planning and execution. All of these results have been compiled into an Excel-based Implementation Resource, IR 315-2 Mega-Project Assessment of Criticality Tool (MPACT). MPACT provides project teams the means to a structured assessment process of critical factors on mega-projects, enabling more accurate and thorough mitigation planning on these impact factors, in order to improve mega-project performance.



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