The size, location and complexity of mega projects means they are prone to disruption before work gets underway. With that in mind, how can a robust approach to risk management help to reduce pre-construction phase challenges?

Keeping all parties happy

The high-profile nature of many mega projects, and the wide range of stakeholders involved, means a significant number attract some form of early-stage opposition. This could be from the local community, environmental bodies, or MPs who may then instigate reviews to consider their impact.

Since mega projects are typically run by newly-formed organisations, it’s important to nip any potential issues in the bud in order to focus on establishing processes and cementing relationships with third parties. To help a project get off to a good start, effective communication and stakeholder engagement is key. For example, public consultations can help secure buy-in from stakeholders and ensure the local community is on board.

When taking steps to mitigate potential issues, effective communication and stakeholder engagement can help to reduce the likelihood of local opposition. For example, it is important to deal with public concerns about traffic management, road congestion, and carbon emissions in an open and upfront way.


Planning ahead

To minimise the risk of potential delays to the planning process, project managers and specialist advisers must secure any necessary consents during the pre-construction phase. These may be needed to reassure external stakeholders that the project is considering environmental impact, protecting local ecology, and ensuring pollution and onsite noise is managed.

The phased nature of the design process for many major programmes can also increase cost and time uncertainty, particularly if some are not completed until after work is underway. Careful checks may be needed to ensure the designs are achievable. BIM systems could make this process easier by enabling project managers and key decision-makers to visualise design solutions and demonstrate the suitability of specific methods and/or materials.


Preparing for every outcome

To reduce pre-construction phase risks, scenario planning can help to keep projects on track. While it may not be possible to plan for every specific event, such as the impact of a pandemic for example, it is possible to consider scenario-based impacts, for example, ‘what would happen if we needed to reduce the onsite workforce by 50%?’

After identifying the potential risks, they should be captured on a risk register to ensure they can be prioritised for mitigation purposes and monitored over time. A risk-centric approach to project management can help to reduce the probability of cost and time delays arising once work has started.

By regularly reviewing risks and utilising modelling techniques, such as quantitative schedule risk assessments, any unexpected issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently.


First published at Buildingtalk


[Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash]