Construction Strategy

Why a robust construction strategy increases the likelihood of project success

  • Does your project have a robust, agreed, well-documented and optimised construction strategy?

  • Do your project team members understand the benefit that flows from thinking strategically?

  • Is it time to improve strategic engagement with project staff to ensure the best opportunity for success?

  • Is it recognised that construction strategy benefits from strong communication, transparency and leadership?


Construction Strategy Principles

The nine principles set out below explain the approach required and the benefit derived from implementing a formal approach to developing and optimising construction strategy over the duration of the project:

#1: Prior to developing a construction program, the project leadership team needs to develop a construction strategy that explains clearly how the project is planned to be constructed.

#2: The construction strategy must be supported by rigorous construction engineering and sound planning principles. It should reflect optimum constructability, methodology, productivity, staging, phasing, procurement and contract strategies. It should be concise, easy to follow and able to be communicated to key project team members using non-technical project-specific diagrams and narratives that encourage feedback and buy-in to the project construction strategy.

#3: The construction strategy should not be prepared in isolation, exist in the “ether” or be filed in the bottom drawer at the start of a project. It only becomes useful as a “live” communication tool. Strategic decisions need to consider time, cost, quality and safety goals collectively. Monthly progress reports rarely address solutions to major strategic issues.

#4: The need to address changes to the construction strategy must be identified as soon as possible to ensure reliable decision making and to allow the maximum time available to resolve strategic issues.

#5. The project working / contract construction program is also a live document which should be developed in parallel with the construction strategy. The Basis of Program / Schedule document sets out the underlying assumptions behind the program but typically not the construction strategy.

The project working program should ideally not deviate too far from the current agreed construction strategy, particularly without understanding the cause and effect of such deviations.

#6: Any substantial misalignment between the current construction strategy and detailed working programs should ultimately be addressed and corrected in both documents.

#7: A robust working construction program ultimately drives project decisions and performance at a detailed level. But there is always a real danger of failing to comprehend the “big picture” due to “not being able to see the wood for the trees”. This is not a criticism of detailed programs as such but a recognition of the need to develop better tools that focus on explaining complex problems and exploring a range of possible solutions to key non-technical decision makers and stakeholders. Without this clear understanding, team decisions are likely to be sub-optimal.

#8. High level summaries of the working construction program are useful but do not by themselves constitute an effective construction strategy. Filtered program reports, such as critical paths and resources, are useful to planning staff but can be difficult to follow for other project staff. Specific customised diagrams that incorporate detailed progress data, actual and forecast critical paths and identify causation based upon a wider range of data than limited program activities are far more useful.

#9. A key guiding principle in planning is that high levels of integrity, credibility &  transparency at the start of a project will substantially improve confidence, clarity and commitment during implementation.