Whether it was at work, during school, or in a sports team, we have all been a part of a team where things did not go as smoothly as we thought they might. However, if this occurs during a major infrastructure project, it can cause significant delays and additional costs.
Here are our top six tips for saving both your project and your bank account:
TOP TIP ONE: Read the Contract.
This may be stating the obvious, but disagreements frequently arise because parties are not aware of what is specifically stated in the contract, including their obligations. Remember contracts are legally binding, if you do not know what is set out in a contract, you are leaving yourself susceptible to disputes.
Infrastructure projects tend to involve large multi-disciplinary teams. Consultants must abide by their responsibilities as stated in the contract or they will place the project at risk. It is also important to make sure that key field and site personnel have read and understood the contract provisions.
TOP TIP TWO: Make Sure the Responsibility Matrix Reflects the Contract
A responsibility matrix is a document that outlines the various roles. This document is frequently overlooked and added to the contract at the last minute without any or sufficient professional review, as with the rest of the contract. If drafted incorrectly, it can contradict the roles outlined in the contract, causing confusion and conflict.
It may be that two subcontractors could be assigned the same task, thereby raising the question of which party will ultimately assume that responsibility. Parties involved may operate under the assumption that the other subcontractor will undertake the role in question, leaving the task unattended. Therefore, the Responsibility Matrix needs to be carefully considered.
TOP TIP THREE: Have a Good Facilitator
If the contractors have good managerial skills, they are more likely to initiate projects by mandating the attendance of all subcontractors and project managers at an on-site meeting to discuss various aspects and procedures. Such measures increase the likelihood of successful collaboration amongst all parties involved, particularly in the event of a dispute. Therefore, this proactive approach reduces the likelihood of conflicts.
TOP TIP FOUR: During the First 90 days of a Project, Launch a Review and Address Any Open Issues
To adhere to the projects schedule, a comprehensive review of the project is essential to identify and resolve any potential delay-causing factors. It is crucial to address promptly any requests for information, missing information, or interpersonal conflicts. Taking a proactive approach to confront these issues from the outset enables a better understanding of the projected timescale of the project, including the possibility of delays.
TOP TIP FIVE: During the Last 6 Months of a Project, Begin to Assemble your Documentation
In the final six months of the project, there is a tendency for individuals involved in the project to depart, taking important documents and notes with them. Therefore, it is necessary to gather all logbooks, forms, documentation, personal notes, and communication records. These materials may constitute evidence in the event of any dispute.
TOP TIP SIX: Do Not be Afraid to Engage Qualified Personnel
Before entering a contract, it is important to engage qualified personnel to identify any potential areas of risk. Such qualified personnel can examine the contract to identify what is missing, any contradictions, and the need for dispute resolution mechanisms. Although there will be upfront costs, it can prevent project delays and mitigate risks that may prove to be more expensive in the long run.
Furthermore, engaging qualified personnel at the outset of the project can be beneficial in addressing any potential issues early on, to ensure that there are not issues further down the line. It is not uncommon for seemingly minor issues to transform into larger ones as the project progresses, making early intervention essential.
Top tips for infrastructure projects was discussed in our March 2023 webinar with Chris Beirise of HKA Global and Claire Packman KC of 4 Pump Court. The link to the webinar recording is: https://www.bartonlegal.com/site/webinars/up_and_coming/top-tips-for-successful-infrastructure-projects.
To find out how Barton Legal can help you, please click here.