However, those who turn to a programmatic approach, grouping similar projects together either by type, function, region or other relevant grouping – are realising significant value for money, reducing risk and achieving better business performance. This approach can be more important and appropriate in the uncertain financial environment that many organisations are currently facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is a perception among many asset intensive organisations and sectors that planning processes do not necessarily lend themselves well to delivering projects as a group. In the face of different funding sources; separate approvals processes for individual projects; and the immense size of businesses across multiple locations, many organisations opt for a piecemeal approach to simultaneously managing ‘like’ projects and programmes. This approach usually entails each project starting from scratch, individual procurements, bespoke designs and numerous teams administering each project, as well as multiple project managers, designers, contractors, and so on.
As these piecemeal projects roll out, there is growing acknowledgement across asset intensive sectors that this approach often results in time and cost blowouts, lack of consistency across facilities, re-inventing the wheel from facility to facility, not learning from safety improvements and reduced efficiencies for business performance.
Organisations have also witnessed first-hand how this piecemeal approach lends itself to disruption across operations at sites from increased stakeholder meetings, repeated user requirement meetings and a lack of coordination of multiple projects occurring on sites concurrently. These organisations have also experienced how the approach can limit knowledge transfer or retention between similar projects and scope.
However, for those sectors overcoming planning process challenges and turning away from the piecemeal approach to instead manage multiple, simultaneous projects in a more coordinated, integrated way (i.e. taking a programmatic approach), it’s a vastly different story.
Whether projects are grouped into a region to align local industry involvement, grouped by similar budget spend for greater cost efficiency or grouped by type of project – such as health projects, mine site facilities or aviation air traffic control towers – to get a more consistent outcome for a single type of project nationally, there are a multitude of benefits.
Perhaps the ultimate benefit is that a programmatic approach provides a higher degree of certainty to achieve better and more consistent outcomes across cost, risk and improved business performance for each asset, and those who use the facilities.
Also, extremely useful is the ability to implement lessons learnt sooner into procurement, planning, enhanced coordination with stakeholders, safety and design – before they become larger issues further down the chain.
While many organisations can understand the benefits of taking a programmatic approach, they grapple with how to bring these benefits to life. The starting point for those who are successfully adapting their organisation to move from a piecemeal approach to a programmatic one is to first seek expertise to help identify, review and confirm if it will add value.
Is there a common project scope? Timeline alignment? Common project objectives? Supporting common capability needs? Common sites? These are just some of the critical questions asset intensive organisations need to find answers to before setting off on a programmatic journey.
They also must understand and have a clear view of the basic requirements to form a programme such as the minimal programme length (no less than 12 months) and have reviewed the structure and length of contracts to enable multiple projects. Also, considering panel arrangements for designers and contractors is important and can lead to increased flexibility in delivery, particularly around timing of delivery.
Starting to adapt to enable a programmatic approach may seem like a challenge for organisations who feel they are hampered by planning processes not traditionally set up for delivering projects as a group.
However, there are steps asset intensive organisations can take to move towards a programmatic approach. We are seeing this being done successfully in many sectors and there is huge opportunity to adopt this approach more frequently and consistently, to ultimately enable greater agility across programmes, provide better access to information for more informed decisions, achieve the best value for money outcomes, reduce risk, and enable safety and greater performance for assets, the workforce and the competitiveness of sectors more broadly.
This thinking paper is part of a collection of insights and expertise from Aurecon as it explores leading through and beyond the COVID-19 disruption. Explore our insights here.
Stephen Carroll joined Aurecon 11 years ago and has significant experience in leading and project managing high-profile Defence infrastructure projects, including the Australian Government’s AIR 7000 maritime patrol aircraft replacement project and most recently the New Zealand Defence Force P-8A Ohakea project. Prior to joining Aurecon, Stephen was a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Australian Navy and has held many roles within Australia’s Defence Force, spanning over 40 years.
Chris Woodward is one of Aurecon’s Program Advisory leaders. He is a qualified civil engineer with over 20 years of expertise in project design and service delivery. Chris has worked on various projects spanning aviation, defence, built environment and infrastructure within Australia and abroad.