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Predictable Construction Budgets and Schedule: The Benefits of Comprehensive Solutions in Project Management

Updated: May 7

Construction projects are notorious for exceeding their budgets and missing their deadlines. In fact, it might surprise you to learn that over 80% of construction projects suffer from cost overruns and delays. Cost overruns can amount to as much as an 80% increase in costs and schedule overruns are rarely less than 15% of the original schedule. These statistics paint a grim picture of an industry struggling to deliver projects within the parameters set forth at the project's inception. However, amidst these challenges lies a beacon of hope: comprehensive solutions in project management. This is a holistic approach that involves close collaboration between design, construction, and owner teams. By embracing this approach from the very beginning, developers and project managers can mitigate the risks of budget overruns and scheduling delays.


The traditional design-bid-build method, while widely used, often falls short in addressing the complexities of modern construction projects. The industry has been theorizing about ways to improve project delivery; from design-build, to LEAN in Construction, to Integrated Project Delivery. Most of these are a variable take on the tradition design-bid-build construction process that can lead to potential conflicts between design intent and construction feasibility. Additionally, the fragmented nature of the process can hinder effective communication and coordination, further exacerbating the likelihood of cost and schedule overruns.



What if you could get all the team members in a room to discuss your vision, provide them with the tools and criteria to align design decision with the project goals, and empower them to deliver the expected results within the project budget on time. I bet you thought that was what you were doing this whole time and the team was not comprehending how important this is to you. The reality is that most design and construction projects act more like a game of telephone that a comprehensive, total project delivery. You tell the architect what you are thinking, they design and relay what they think you meant to the design consultants, that gets drawn up and sent to the contractors for bids with a description loosely matching your goals and intent. This process winds up in a budgeting process called "value engineering" that strips out the project value to meet the intended budget.


Comprehensive solutions is a process that prioritizes collaboration and integration across all project stakeholders, paving the way for smoother project execution and more predictable outcomes. In this writing, we will delve deeper into the benefits of comprehensive solutions and explore strategies that developers can employ to achieve more predictable construction budgets and schedules.


Understanding the Problem:


For developers, cost overruns and scheduling delays can have significant ramifications, impacting not only the bottom line but also the overall success of a project. From unexpected material price increases to weather-related disruptions, numerous factors can contribute to these challenges. Moreover, the traditional design-bid-build method often fails to adequately address these risks, leading to frustration and disillusionment among project stakeholders. As a result, developers are increasingly turning to comprehensive solutions that prioritize collaboration and proactive risk management to deliver an effective construction budget throughout the project life cycle.


There is also a misconception that the architect will be able to catch any missed items or connections and that they have the know-how to ensure that the consultants didn't miss anything and that the drawing are all coordinated. There is no question that building codes are getting more restrictive and building science is getting more advanced, so expecting any one entity to have this kind of omnipresent knowledge is unreasonable. Further, project owners are putting more pressure on design and construction fees and requesting expedited schedules, so quality control measures are often minimized or omitted entirely. 


What we really want is some level of certainty that the project can be delivered within the budget and that we can maintain the profitability of the project. Often, owners are trying to capture a target market or date and need the project to be delivered on time to ensure the highest degree of profitability. 


By fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, comprehensive solutions empower project teams to identify potential issues early on and take proactive measures to address them. Whether it's leveraging technology to streamline communication or implementing specific construction principles to optimize workflow, developers have a range of tools at their disposal to enhance project predictability. Moreover, by involving contractors and suppliers in the design process, developers can gain valuable insights into construction feasibility and cost implications, helping to avoid costly change orders and delays down the line. In the next section, we will explore how comprehensive solutions can transform the construction landscape and pave the way for more successful projects.


The Solution: Comprehensive Solutions in Project Management


Comprehensive solutions in project management represent a paradigm shift in how construction projects are conceived, planned, and executed. At its core, this approach emphasizes collaboration and integration across all project stakeholders, from architects and engineers to contractors and owners. By breaking down silos and fostering a culture of shared responsibility, comprehensive solutions enable project teams to work towards a common goal: delivering a successful project on time and within budget.


What we really want from this team process is for every discipline that may be affected by a change, issue, decision, or risk to be involved in discussing, coordinating, and delivering a solution that in line with the owners goals for the project. We must make sure that every team member is represented when these items are being brought to the surface. To do this to a project requires the overall project team to be present and engaged in the full scope of the project. 


One of the key benefits of comprehensive solutions is improved cost control. By involving contractors early in the design process, developers can gain a better understanding of project costs and identify opportunities for better cost alternatives. Additionally, by leveraging historical data and benchmarking tools, project teams can more accurately forecast project costs and mitigate the risk of budget overruns. Similarly, comprehensive solutions also streamline scheduling by identifying critical path activities and optimizing workflow to minimize delays. Through integrated project scheduling and real-time progress tracking, developers can proactively identify potential bottlenecks and take corrective action before they impact the project timeline. 


Successful construction project budgets and schedules are not impossible, but they do require construction methods and mental frameworks that are outside of the traditional models. This has little to do with management tools and more to do with project needs and providing an environment for collaborative teamwork. Sometimes this means paying subcontractors for their expertise during construction, but it always includes a trusted construction firm to allocate construction costs and provide cost estimates and constructability reviews as the project is being designed. 


In the following section, we will explore real-world examples of projects that have successfully implemented comprehensive solutions and achieved remarkable results.



Case Studies:


Real-world examples provide tangible evidence of the effectiveness of comprehensive solutions in project management. Let's explore two case studies that highlight the transformative impact of this approach on construction budgets and schedules.


Case Study 1: The Emerald Tower


The Emerald Tower, a luxury residential high-rise project in downtown Seattle, faced significant challenges during its early stages of development. With a complex design and aggressive timeline, the project seemed destined for cost overruns and scheduling delays. However, by adopting a comprehensive approach to project management, the project team was able to overcome these obstacles and deliver the project on time and within budget.


From the outset, the project team prioritized collaboration and integration across all stakeholders. Architects, engineers, contractors, and owners worked closely together to develop a detailed project plan that accounted for all aspects of design, construction, and operations. By involving contractors in the design process, the team was able to identify potential cost-saving opportunities and optimize construction sequencing to minimize disruptions.


Throughout the construction phase, the project team utilized advanced scheduling tools and real-time progress tracking to monitor project performance and identify potential bottlenecks. By proactively addressing issues as they arose, the team was able to stay on track and deliver the project according to the original timeline. As a result, the Emerald Tower stands as a testament to the power of comprehensive solutions in achieving predictable construction budgets and schedules.


Case Study 2: The Cascade Commons


The Cascade Commons, a mixed-use development in Portland, Oregon, faced similar challenges in managing costs and schedules. With multiple stakeholders and complex design requirements, the project was at risk of spiraling out of control. However, by embracing a comprehensive approach to project management, the project team was able to navigate these challenges and deliver the project on time and within budget.


Central to the success of the Cascade Commons project was a focus on collaboration and communication. Architects, engineers, contractors, and owners worked together from the outset to develop a shared vision for the project and align on key objectives. By fostering open dialogue and sharing information transparently, the team was able to identify potential risks early on and develop mitigation strategies to address them.


Throughout the construction phase, the project team utilized advanced project management software to track progress and monitor performance against key milestones. By leveraging real-time data and analytics, the team was able to identify inefficiencies and make data-driven decisions to optimize workflow and minimize delays. As a result, the Cascade Commons was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, demonstrating the power of comprehensive solutions in achieving project success.


Strategies for Developers:


Armed with the knowledge gained from these case studies, developers can take proactive steps to implement comprehensive solutions in their own projects and manage construction with a results focused team. Here are some strategies to consider:


  • Start Early: Engage all stakeholders from the outset to align goals and expectations. By involving contractors and suppliers in the design process, developers can gain valuable insights into construction feasibility and cost implications.

  • Prioritize Collaboration: Foster open communication and teamwork throughout the project lifecycle. By breaking down silos and fostering a culture of shared responsibility, project teams can work towards a common goal and overcome challenges more effectively.

  • Embrace Technology: Utilize tools and software for project planning, tracking, and risk management. From advanced scheduling software to building information modeling (BIM) technology, developers have a range of tools at their disposal to streamline processes and improve project predictability.

  • Continuously Monitor and Adjust: Regularly review progress against benchmarks and adjust strategies as needed. By staying agile and responsive to changing conditions, developers can proactively address issues and keep projects on track.


In conclusion, comprehensive solutions represent a powerful tool for developers seeking to achieve more predictable construction budgets and schedules. By embracing collaboration, communication, and technology, developers can overcome the challenges inherent in modern construction projects and deliver successful outcomes. As the industry continues to evolve, comprehensive solutions will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of construction project management.

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