One of the feasible solutions to bring the Indian economy back on track today is the execution of Infrastructure Projects that are already planned but require faster physical performance now than ever. GOI is already in action to fast track these projects.
“Indian Infrastructure Projects, in general, are notorious for abnormal delays in completion and exorbitant cost overruns” is not an overstatement. However, we are also witnessing the change in this trend. A few transportation projects are being executed within a reasonable timeline and cost, while others are slogging at a snail pace. Delays in projects contribute most to cost overruns. Therefore, Timely completion of the projects is the need of the hour.
What are the factors which enable some projects to complete on time and not others? We have tried to analyze data, reports, and previous research on this subject and  after sieving out effects of political and community interferences, inordinate delays in land acquisition and delays in fund allocations, our findings are classified as below:
The top reason which enabled projects to remain on track is how efficiently the project was managed. We can see that wherever projects [mostly with external funding] are managed with adequate project management processes, teams and leadership, they are completed within reasonable time and cost.
The following factors are identified at the conceptual stage, and the execution stage of the project, which contribute most to the timely completion of the project are:
At the onset of the project conceptualization, Integrated Master Implementation Plan [MIP] is a must. MIP must be maintained, updated and detailed out throughout the project duration. It provides management a bird’s eye view of the project and brings out the missing links, which become significant bottlenecks in the project if not taken care of in time. Therefore, an integrated Master Plan is ideally developed in Primavera P6, and they must contain the following at a minimum:
a) Scope definition and Technology Selection: Construction Technology selection through constructability analysis is the primary tool to control the time and cost of the project at this stage.
b) Scope Breakdown, i.e., work packaging [primarily based on constructability analysis and selected technologies], should reduce interfaces.
c) Identified design and construction interfaces within and out of the projects
d) Interfaces with other concurrent or planned projects
e) Overall Project Execution Strategy in line with the Strategic Goals
Another attribute of successful projects is SMART decision-making during the execution of the project. The most critical link found in our study is the direct relationship between the pace of decision making and the pace of the project. Effective decision making requires timely and correct information through an Integrated Project Management System [IPMS], preferably a digital system capable of providing automatic notifications and warnings about missed instructions and missing deadlines at the lowest level and presenting a transparent picture of the project status and critical issues/interfaces to the decision-maker.
Lack of collaboration among various disciplines, departments working in silos within bureaucratic structures coupled with interfaces with multiple internal & external agencies presents the biggest challenge in fast decision making, which can be mitigated with the help of Integrated Project Management System.
Current mega projects such as High-Speed Railway HSR and Rapid Rail Transport System RRTS projects are already using Integrated MIP / IPMS. The improvement in the pace of execution is visible to all. If all our National Infrastructure Projects can take the cue from these projects and reap the benefit of already established systems and processes, results will be phenomenal.
Protecton BTG has been instrumental in setting up these systems at India’s first bullet train project MAHSR and is currently in active discussion with other important infrastructural projects for providing MIP services and implementation/operations of SMART PMS.