Minimize Risk and Maximize Value for Complex Construction Projects

    Laura Laltrello, Vice President and General Manager of Projects, Honeywell Building Technologies

    In engineering and construction, the stakes are high and the margins razor thin. With every project, the pressure is on to control costs, avoid profit-eating delays and minimize other risks. COVID-19 has only added to the pressure, squeezing the skilled labor market, choking supply chains, raising client expectations, and expediting the need to create healthier buildings. In fact, most global construction and development firms believe project risks are increasing – and with good reason.

    For instance, large U.S. construction projects typically take 20% longer than scheduled, and less than a third of them have come within 10% of budget in the past three years. Moreover, today’s megaprojects – digital hospitals, modern airports and public-private partnerships valued at $1 billion or more – pose even greater risks, largely because they invest heavily in smart, integrated technology. Such projects are expected to explode over the next three to five years, making it critical for construction firms to have a strategy in place that addresses both the adoption and implementation of smart technology.

    Many construction firms are finding it expedient to partner with a master systems integrator (MSI) rather than build in-house expertise for complex project design, installation and integration. A MSI that is fluent in advanced technology and complex installations does more than integrate technology – it can help to minimize overall project risks.

    Technology expertise to support complex projects

    Collaborating with such an MSI – one that offers a high level of industry leading technology and processes– can bridge gaps in a construction firm’s expertise by helping them minimize both project- and business-level risks and adapt to changing market demands. A technically advanced MSI keeps pace with building technology as it evolves, continually updating its skills to support complex installations and systems integration – from vetting subcontractors to providing integrated solutions.

    Too often, construction firms find themselves trying to manage a large array of subcontractors that end up working at odds with each other. The more subcontractors a construction firm hires, the more touchpoints they have, which increases the risk of miscommunication and confusion. Sourcing material and assuring its delivery brings its own set of risks, especially when sourcing from many suppliers. Another risk – sourcing standalone systems – can result in costly integration headaches, change orders, missed schedules and not meeting the specification or contractual obligations.

    A MSI with a global footprint and manufacturing connections can also serve as a strategic sourcing expert. Understanding requirements in different geographies and how to design and install integrated systems gives means a MSI can source the right hardware and software as well as identify possible disconnects between system specifications, security standards and intended use.

    While on-site risks may affect project outcomes more directly, business-level risks can also whittle away at profits – especially for construction firms that have yet to implement advanced technology software and documentation tools. Erroneous project data and faulty documents can derail coordination of efforts, reduce productivity and often result in rework. A MSI can also help you meet ever-evolving client expectations for documentation and using advanced tools.

    A MSI can bring technology to workflows and processes as well as to building systems. They can improve project specs, product data sheets and building information modeling (BIM) files. Besides helping keep projects on schedule, they can reduce design risk for critical details such as product placement and power requirements. Greater efficiencies reduce mistakes and help the construction firms meet specs cost effectively.

    Brand your firm as a technology leader

    Forward-thinking construction firms are seeing a direct correlation between profitability and their success in identifying and managing risk. While advanced technology has added complexity to their projects, it’s also providing management tools that allow them to assess and improve their workflows and processes. In fact, a large majority of surveyed construction firms believe advanced technology can improve productivity, schedule and safety.

    There’s no question that building technologies will continue to evolve to meet stakeholder needs and expectations. With market demands that can escalate quickly – as responses to the pandemic have shown – construction firms need the agility to respond rapidly. By enabling them to adapt to technical and market realities and deliver on complex, integrated installations, a MSI can help brand the construction firms as a technology leader.

    For more insights on how to minimize risk for your firm, access a Honeywell Building Technologies technical reference guide here: “How General Contractors Can Reduce Risk, Maximize Profit and Get More Value.”

    • Deloitte, 2021 engineering and construction industry outlook. [Accessed November 9, 2021]
    •  Associated General Contractors, 2020 AGC/FMI Risk Study, Ryan Howsam and Sabine Hoover. [Accessed November 9, 2021]
    • Digital Builder, 100+ construction statistics, Grace Ellis, April 18, 2021. [Accessed November 10, 2021]
    • Deloitte, 2021 engineering and construction industry outlook. [Accessed November 9, 2021]
    • Digital Builder, 100+ construction statistics, Grace Ellis, April 18, 2021. [Accessed November 10, 2021]