Capital Projects in the Middle East

Why Advanced Work Packaging and Predictability Thinking™ are critical to the future success of Middle Eastern projects

I recently visited the Middle East to consult with a Saudi Arabian company that is considering the move to Advanced Work Packaging (AWP). Over the past few years we’ve seen a great deal of interest in AWP from capital project leaders in the Middle East, but all our work here has been remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am hopeful that this will be the first of many visits, because capital projects in the Middle East have a lot to gain from the application of construction-driven project delivery methods.

The vast majority of global capital projects are late and over-budget, but schedule predictability in the Middle East is among the lowest in the world. We want to change that. Concord® is committed to impacting $25 Billion in capital projects by 2025, and we plan to get there in part by supporting projects in the Middle East. We believe that the first step to improved capital project outcomes in the region is a transition to construction-driven project execution with Advanced Work Packaging and Predictability Thinking™. Both are now widely viewed as best practice in capital project delivery, and the benefit of construction-driven project delivery has been well-documented on projects around the world.

What is AWP? It is a construction-driven planning and collaboration system for building capital projects that is sharply focused on creating a constraint-free work environment in the field. It requires that detailed work packages be created early in the project life cycle; i.e., in advance. Predictability Thinking™ introduces leading measures into the process, helping owners and project leaders define what actions are necessary to achieve their goals.

The introduction of AWP not only upgrades project delivery systems, it also facilitates the development of more mature project delivery capabilities for major owner organizations. Predictability Thinking™ should be a core competency for executive leadership at large Owner project organizations, as leaders in these organizations will play a major role in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of project delivery in the Middle East.

Here are three of the most important lessons that capital project leaders in the Middle East can learn from more mature industries in other parts of the world, and from the emerging Western model of project management.

1 | Owners Must Lead

The responsibility for transformational change lies with Owner organizations, then contractors. If you want to meet your business objectives, achieve a safer worksite, and deliver on-time and on-budget, you must lead the transition to construction-driven project delivery. Strong leadership here means maintaining the staff levels required to support AWP, owning the project management process and effectively monitoring project risk profiles — to start. The competitive advantage will go to the Owner organizations that embrace this leadership role and act now.

2 | Own The Knowledge

The quick, easy move here is to hire an outside firm to “do” Advanced Work Packaging for your organization, but this approach will yield lackluster and temporary results. Why? Because your employees are reduced to spectators and order-takers — they gain no skills, take no ownership, and have no skin in the game. 

Concord®, by contrast, believes in empowering your people with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver on-time and on-budget. Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job. We don’t “do” AWP for you, we help you develop the soft and hard competencies required to drive meaningful change over the long term — leadership and project management skills, risk assessment and Predictability Thinking™, change management and construction-driven project delivery. Instead of bringing these skills into your organization on a plane, we help you cultivate them in your own people and build an independent, self-sufficient capital project sector in the Middle East.

3 | Avoid Initiative Fatigue

It’s easy to get excited about new tools, software and consultants, but don’t waste your time on these things until you’ve established a strategic plan. A clear set of business objectives will help you sort through the countless tools, methods and consultants on the market to identify the ones that will move the needle for your organization. This protects your team from initiative fatigue, a real culture-destroyer that will quickly undo any gains you might see from yet another shiny new idea.

In writing, these three lessons seem simple enough: Owners lead change, invest in their people, and take a measured approach to change. The reality is much more challenging. The good news is that the capital project community in the Middle East is one of the least resistant to change — having worked with companies from California to France, I say this with confidence. There is momentum here, a desire to invest people and develop the capacity to deliver on-time and on-budget. If you’d like support in transforming this momentum into bottom-line results, contact Concord® today.

*Project Predictability Package™ is a trademark of Concord® Project Technologies.

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