Infrastructure projects are some of the largest, most complex projects Independent Project Analysis (IPA) evaluates. The success of these high profile projects can be critical to not just the developer or contractor but to the local population or state. IPA helps ensure infrastructure projects maximize their likelihood of success by using practices, tools, and metrics at the right time.
Although IPA is now a recognized name for the oil & gas and chemicals industries, IPA also has a long history in the world of infrastructure projects. Some of the very first projects Edward Merrow, IPA’s Founder and President, analyzed were major infrastructure projects, including projects with the following scopes: airport, hydroelectric dam, pipeline, nuclear power plant, coal-fired power plant, and university building1.
These types of infrastructure projects, along with others, formed the initial basis for ground-breaking research on the planning factors that are most critical to project success, research that led to the founding of IPA in 1987. That initial set of data, research, and metrics has been continuously added to and improved upon. IPA now has over 18,000 capital projects in our database and is widely viewed as the world’s leading firm for research, benchmarking, and consulting on capital projects and project systems.
IPA’s work in the infrastructure sector spans a variety of organizations and scopes:
IPA’s infrastructure clients have different roles – we have worked with government departments in the United States and other countries, as well as developers and investors.
Infrastructure Project Types
IPA has evaluated hundreds of infrastructure projects with diverse scopes:
- Buildings – lab, hangar, warehouse, residential complex, hospital, and university
- Transportation – airports, ports, pipelines, and rail, etc.
- Utilities/power – gas/coal/nuclear plants, electrical distribution, offshore and onshore wind, waste management, and fire prevention/fighting, etc.
Infrastructure Project Research
IPA’s infrastructure project research is current and addresses topics critical for the sector:
- Most infrastructure projects use a design-bid or design-bid-build approach. Our body of research studies on contracting approaches can help developers determine which approach is optimal, based on market conditions, scope, location, and project risk
- Demonstrating good sustainability practices is often critical for infrastructure projects to gain public support. IPA’s research has identified those sustainability practices most critical to project success and common pitfalls for projects that do not apply those practices at the right time
Alignment With Stakeholders
- Alignment with stakeholders is essential for all projects, and infrastructure project stakeholders can include diverse groups such as landowners, financial backers, community leaders and business and project functions. IPA tools and workshops can help establish and document project priorities and trade-offs in ways proven to reduce conflict and changes in execution
IPA Cost Metrics
- IPA cost metrics help confirm whether a particular infrastructure project is a “good deal” or not—whether its capital cost is competitive. In the current low-growth economic climate, public infrastructure projects are increasingly challenged to show strong cost governance. In particular, government entities that depend heavily on oil revenues, that are now seeing heavily slashed budgets, are focused on improving portfolio management such that only the best projects move forward, ensuring those projects are executed as cost effectively as possible. With cost-capacity models for scopes such as buildings and pipelines, and detailed cost metrics like installation $/ton of steel, engineering hours/ton of concrete, and many more that can be applied to an array of infrastructure projects, our data helps ensure infrastructure project cost estimates are realistic and achievable. Similarly, our schedule models are metrics that can help governments and developers set reasonable timelines for project development and completion
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1. Edward W. Merrow, Lorraine M. McDonnell, and R. Ylmaz Arguden, Understanding the Outcomes of Mega-Projects – A Quantitative Analysis of Very Large Civilian Projects, Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1988. http://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/R3560.html. Also available in print.