Successful Delivery of Mega-projects

RT-315 Topic Summary
RT 315


As the number and size of mega-projects continue to increase across all sectors of the capital projects industry, one fact stands out: they tend to underperform more often than not—whether because they fail to keep within their approved budgets, follow their approved schedules, or meet their premised business objectives.

RT-315 was formed with the primary purpose to identify what changes in project planning and execution are needed to increase the likelihood of mega-project success. The objectives of this research include:

  1. Describe the current state of the art for mega-project delivery, identifying current planning and execution practices used on mega-projects.
  2. Identify and prioritize the primary contributing factors of good and bad performance on mega-projects.
  3. Identify any changes needed in planning and execution practices to address these primary contributing factors and improve performance.
  4. Develop any appropriate tools to support proactive mega-project planning and execution.

The research identifies the 34 impact factors that have higher frequency and greater impact on mega-projects. RT-315 developed a tool that includes recommendations for managing and mitigating the impact of each of these 34 impact factors.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Mega-Project Definition

A capital project with a total installed cost greater than $1 billion dollars with any of the following complexity criteria:
(RS315-1, p. 1)

  • A significant number of stakeholders
  • A large number of interfaces
  • A challenging project location
  • An inadequate supply of resources
  • Unfamiliar technology
  • Difficult regulatory constraints
  • Extensive infrastructure requirements
  • Geographically dispersed teams
  • Significant political, economic, environmental, or social influence
Reference: (RS315-1)

2 : Impact Factors

The research identifies 34 impact factors, and validated that these factors have high occurrence and performance impacts on mega-projects. The research further identifies the 16 impact factors that, when they occur, most affect performance on mega-projects. The 34 impact factors were categorized into 5 categories:  (RS315-1, p. 9)

  • Category A – Location and Technology
  • Category B – Team, Organization, and Communication
  • Category C – Planning and Execution Processes
  • Category D – Governance and Stakeholders
  • Category E – Delivery Strategy
Reference: (RS315-1)

3 : Mega-Project Assessment of Criticality Tool

This tool synthesizes all the research findings into a targeted knowledge structure to help mega-project teams better understand the impact factors. Considering the characteristics unique to mega-projects, the main purpose of the tool is to increase understanding, highlight the importance, provide case study examples, and guide the assessment of these impact factors. (RS315-1, p. 25)

See Implementation Tools below for more information.

Reference: (RS315-1)

4 : Case Study Results

The case studies provide a breadth and depth of information on the impact factors, complementing the research data analysis effort and supporting the research findings. Case study findings were grouped by the five categories identified in Key Finding #2. Examples from each category include: (RS315-1, p. 21)

  • Category A – Host governments of mega-projects are restricting the mass importation of craft workers.
  • Category B – Both owners and contractors stressed the need to assign skilled and experienced personnel to lead mega-projects.
  • Category C – Favorable business conditions and the urgency to get to market often influenced owners to skip key planning steps.
  • Category D – As more mega-projects are undertaken as joint ventures, their governance becomes increasingly convoluted, with poorly defined roles and responsibilities.
  • Category E – Host countries often require the use of local resources, where these local contractors and sub-contractors fail to perform.
Reference: (RS315-1)

5 : Implementation Tool #1

IR315-2, MPACT Mega-Project Assessment of Criticality Tool

The MPACT tool is designed to help project teams assess the factors that are most significant to their projects and to provide a library of mega-project experience in managing or mitigating these factors. The tool can be used on any scale and type of mega-project, and provides the following:

  • A methodology for assessing the 34 key impact factors identified in the research
  • In-depth information on these impact factors, including detailed descriptions, research findings, and real case examples
  • Recommendations for mitigating the impacts of these factors during mega-project front end planning and execution
Reference: (IR315-2)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved cost, Improved schedule, Improved performance/achieved success

Research Publications

Successful Delivery of Mega-projects - RR315-11

Publication Date: 08/2016 Type: Research Report Pages: 523 Status: Reference

Mega-Project Assessment of Criticality Tool - IR315-2

Publication Date: 10/2015 Type: Implementation Resource Pages: 101 Status: Tool

Successful Delivery of Mega-Projects - RS315-1

Publication Date: 10/2015 Type: Research Summary Pages: 33 Status: Supporting Product

Presentations from CII Events

Session - Contracting Solution for Long-term Mega-projects

Publication Date: Presenter: Number of Slides: 26 Event Code: PIW1011

Plenary Session - Successful Delivery of Mega-projects

Publication Date: Presenter: Number of Slides: 13 Event Code: AC2015

Implementation Session - Successful Delivery of Mega-projects

Publication Date: Presenter: Number of Slides: 46 Event Code: AC2015