The NEDO report

Perhaps the best evidence that networks are most effective when kept simple is given by the NEDO report referred to in the Preface to the first edition of this book. The relevant paragraphs are reproduced below by permission of HM Stationery Office.

1 Even if it is true that UK clients build more complex plants, it should still be possible to plan for and accommodate the extra time and resources this would entail. By and large the UK projects were more generously planned but, none the less, the important finding of the case studies is that, besides taking longer, the UK projects tended also to encounter more overrun against planned time. There was no correlation across the case studies between the sophistication with which programming was done and the end result in terms of successful completion on time. On the German power station the construction load represented by the size and height of the power station was considerable, but the estimated construction time was short and was achieved. This contrasts with the UK power stations, where a great deal of effort and sophistication went into programming, but schedules were overrun. On most of the case studies, the plans made at the beginning of the project were thought realistic at that stage, but they varied in their degree of sophistication and in the importance attached to them.

2 One of the British refineries provided the one UK example where the plan was recognized from the start by both client and contractor to be unrealistic. None the less, the contractor claimed that he believed planning to be very important, particularly in the circumstances of the UK, and the project was accompanied by a wealth of data collection. This contrasts with the Dutch refinery project where planning was clearly effective but where there was no evidence of very sophisticated techniques. There is some evidence in the case studies to suggest that UK clients and contractors put more effort into planning, but there is no doubt that the discipline of the plan was more easily maintained on the foreign projects. Complicated networks are useful in developing an initial programme, but subsequently, though they may show how badly one has done, they do not indicate how to recover the situation. Networks need, therefore, to be developed to permit simple rapid updates, pointing where action must be taken. Meanwhile the evidence from the foreign case studies suggests that simple techniques, such as bar charts, can be successful.

3 The attitudes to planning on UK1 and the Dutch plant were very different, and this may have contributed to the delay of UK1 although it is impossible to quantify the effect. The Dutch contractor considered planning to be very important, and had two site planning engineers attached to the home office during the design stage. The programme for UK1 on the other hand was considered quite unrealistic by both the client and the contractor, not only after the event but while the project was under way, but neither of them considered this important in itself.

On UK 1 it was not until the original completion date arrived that construction was rescheduled to take a further five months. At this point construction was only 80% complete and in the event there was another eight month's work to do. Engineering had been three months behind schedule for some time. A wealth of progress information was being collected but no new schedule appears to have been made earlier.

Progress control and planning was clearly a great deal more effective on the Dutch project; the contractor did not believe in particularly sophisticated control techniques, however.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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