Capital Projects Planning

The Value of Effective Preparation

The client has the greatest impact on the success of their project during its earliest stages when there is scope to innovate and experiment without increasing costs. This opportunity is quickly succeeded by a requirement to maintain tight control over costs and changes. Our focus is on supporting clients during the scoping, modelling and briefing processes which are vital to ultimately achieving value for money. It is therefore worthwhile to view the preparation stage in highly integrated ways.

Strategic Planning

Setting out the vision for a new project is the most critical step, so the brief needs to be closely linked to the core business strategy of the institution. A new facility will have a significant impact on and should be closely aligned with, other strategic developments.

With this in mind, we recommend:

Revisiting current strategic plans

  • To examine environmental and policy changes to which the project may be sensitive
  • Early understanding of sensitivities is critical to managing project risks
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    Considering the relationship between current activity levels

  • Resource allocation, key performance indicators, historic decisions on the allocation of resources can quickly fall out of step with activity levels
  • A capital project is a superb opportunity to re-align resources based on need
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    Projecting future activity levels

  • Assessing their resource requirements
  • Evaluating their impact on performance
  • Even in the most volatile of circumstances, a forward look is of considerable benefit and scenario planning can provide insights into opportunities available to manage and eliminate risks
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    Space Modelling and Budget Setting

    Throughout the project, a key driver of the brief, the costs and the ability of the project to support planned activity levels, is the volume of space to be built. We recommend that a Strategic Space Model is employed to assist in controlling the relationship between activity and costs.

    The hallmarks of a good model include:

  • Close linkage and integration with the strategic planning process: student numbers and other indicators of activity levels should directly drive the calculation of space required
  • Iterative in the early stages: a good model will facilitate strategic scenario planning and assist in resolving ‘what if’ questions and in assessing risk
  • Direct linkages to option development and project cost planning: keeping your key figures (strategic plan, space budget and cost plan) synchronised is a complex challenge
  • Support for key decisions at critical project stages: early planning in the manner described and close linkages to cost planning mean that decisions can be taken with confidence
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    Consultation, Briefing and Communication

    The project life-cycle lends itself to early engagement and this provides an opportunity for staff to participate in the briefing process and contribute to the brief itself. However, as the need to maintain cost and change control becomes paramount, this opportunity evaporates quickly.

    We recommend that early involvement of curriculum teams in the briefing process is explored with a view to balancing the opportunity to contribute, be consulted and to keep teams informed about developments.

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