Contracting for Success in Complex Projects – Getting the Balance Right
In the 10 years since the inception of ICCPM, we have witnessed an increased emphasis on improving the delivery performance of complex endeavours. The management of complex projects is now established as a practitioner reality and professional field with an institutionalised competency standard and body of knowledge, career and talent management pathways, and educational programs in multiple jurisdictions including Australia, Canada, Norway, UK and USA.
Empirical evidence now exists that implementing approaches and methods appropriate for dealing with complexity, professionalising project teams, and assuring front-end project quality assurance assist in lifting the delivery performance of large/major/complex endeavours; this is encouraging. Studies and testimonials from the UK, Norway and Australia suggest that performance gains in the 5%-10% range are being achieved.
However, this still falls short of the 40%-60% performance gap observed across industries and jurisdictions. We must recognise that the benefits of achieving greater levels of success should not only be measured in marginal cost savings but also in the avoidance or minimisation of issues that result from our failure to recognise and therefore manage the complexities in our environment.
Given this context, contracts as a major driver of complex project governance have a significant contribution to make on delivery performance. Too often, contracts have been identified as contributing to the challenges of successfully delivering complex endeavours, rather than enablers of success. Therefore, it was timely for ICCPM and IACCM to bring together their members to reflect constructively on how improvements could be identified and barriers overcome in order to achieve further gains in delivery performance.