Why Do Projects Struggle?

As the end of my second work term approaches, I’m once again amazed by how much I’ve learned here at Vigilant in such a short period of time. Although school has taught me certain aspects of engineering, the most valuable engineering learning experiences I’ve had have happened with this company as a work term student.

Over the course of this work term, I’ve spent the majority of my time conducting research into public construction in Canada with Emma. Our goal was to identify the biggest reasons that cause public construction projects to struggle with cost overruns and/or schedule delays. With just 11 weeks to conduct a Canada-wide study, Emma and I were forced to work efficiently to obtain as much information as possible. It took us a week or so to figure out the best ways to go about gathering data, but once Terry set us on the right track, the ball started rolling.

By April 13th, we had analyzed 21 public construction projects that had struggled, conducted 16 interviews with 23 people from the construction industry, and received 154 responses to our online Canadian Public Construction Survey. Each province and territory from across Canada was represented in the data in some way. We were able to determine the top five issues from projects, interviews, and the survey. The top five issues were surprisingly consistent for each of our three methods of data collection.

Although this is just my second work term in the construction industry, I have seen public construction projects go off-track and how Vigilant Management has stepped in to correct some of the issues that caused the projects to struggle. It was eye opening to see the correlation between the big issues from each region across Canada and how they relate to what I have seen during my time here. It is nice to be able to look at our findings and definitively say “these are the issues in the construction industry that need to be mitigated”.

I can honestly say that completing this study is one of my biggest accomplishments. As Emma and I work on compiling our final report containing all of the information we gathered, I am amazed at the amount of data we were able to collect. Most people were very willing to share their experiences with us and contribute to our research. Conducting such an in-depth study has had its challenges, but I am very pleased with the results. I have learned so much throughout the process!

Thanks to the Vigilant Team for another great work term. I’m sure going to miss this place. Maybe I’ll be back again…?

- Erin