Whether we refer to roads, utilities, structures, or telecommunications, infrastructure is essential for a thriving business environment. The easier it is for people to connect and for products and services to travel, the more opportunities arise in the business world. Infrastructure development can thus encourage the mobility of people and resources and create opportunities for accelerated business growth.
Launching an infrastructure project to improve the environment for people and businesses is challenging due to the inherent complexity of such a project. Because this requires a massive mobilization of resources, both public and private entities encounter obstacles. As a consequence, some projects don’t materialize according to the initial plans.
In this article, we’ll explore the main challenges of completing an infrastructure project.
Finances and Funding
Financial resources dictate how fast a contracting firm can complete an infrastructure project. Finances also determine the level of complexity and quality that the project’s initiator can strive for. Most businesses and other private entities that want to launch an infrastructure project must prepare for a costly experience. Due to the complex nature of these projects, contractors often face unpredictable challenges that can raise the final costs beyond the initial budget. Public entities must also secure generous funding before launching a project.
Running out of money can stall the project for a long time, during which the construction can suffer damage. Another key characteristic of infrastructure projects is that building high-quality structures leads to lower maintenance and repair costs. However, cutting costs during the building process can lead to high expenses later on because the structure will deteriorate quicker. Thus, juggling finances can be taxing.
Contractors and Skilled Labor
Completing an infrastructure project depends on the initiator’s ability to find reliable contractors able to work to the highest professional standards. Finding reputable contractors and skilled labor can be challenging in some areas. It’s critical to put a lot of research into finding experienced engineers who have tackled projects of similar complexity in the past. Many engineering firms have vast portfolios with all their completed projects so future clients can get a good idea about the firm’s experience. Although working with local contractors may seem like the most intuitive choice, in some cases it can be much more beneficial to cast a wider net. For example, an engineering Utah-based firm with a good reputation usually covers projects in the whole western United States.
Some engineering firms have decades of experience and have won recognition for their work so they can create a realistic, rigorous plan. These firms are also more likely to stay within the budget and respect the deadline. Thus, when working with reputable firms, there’s less risk involved. Especially for complex and expensive projects, the contractors’ reputation is a guarantee that the project will develop according to the client’s wishes. Although working with non-local firms can bring many benefits, the hiring party needs to beware of licenses, accreditations, and legislation when working with contractors outside the local borders.
An infrastructure project can involve large teams of professionals from various industries, so effective communication is crucial for meeting deadlines and reaching milestones. Any disruption in the communication process can cause costly mistakes. A single thing that doesn’t work according to the plan can cause major delays to the project. Although every team should have an efficient internal communication system, the project manager must supervise the communication between different teams and prevent errors and disputes.
Effective communication can take an effort at the beginning, which is why it’s so important to work with reliable and experienced professionals who know how to communicate their needs and expectations, and who also know when to use industry jargon and when to avoid it. All involved parties should communicate in clear and concise terms. Transparency is crucial so that everyone is satisfied with the final results. Making alterations later due to the client being unsatisfied is costly and causes delays for the whole project.
There are many situations when a private-public partnership stands behind an infrastructure project. In such cases, bureaucracy can be a real challenge because the project cannot advance as smoothly as when a private entity makes all the decisions. Whenever public entities are involved, numerous people have to express approval before things can progress from one level to the next. Besides, projects that rely on public funding are often micromanaged. This means that there’s an almost unnecessary level of detail and precision in controlling every aspect of the project, which causes operations to take more time than average.
Private entities that launch infrastructure projects also have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy. Construction law and infrastructure legislation are complex areas to navigate and differ in each state and country. Licenses and certifications also have different terms, depending on the state or country they were issued by. Complying with all the rules, laws, and regulations is challenging because it requires keen attention to detail. In some places, bureaucratic aspects can cause more inconvenience than in others, but most infrastructure projects use legal teams to deal with these issues.
Project management skills are vital for the successful completion of any type of project that involves many people. A good project manager must know how to avoid predictable obstacles and how to overcome unpredictable obstacles with minimal losses. Since an infrastructure project brings together contractors, suppliers, workers, investors, and government entities, there’s always a small chance of conflict. Project management is challenging because the project manager must also monitor costs. If budget limitations are strict, the project manager must know how to cut costs in less vital areas to compensate for bigger expenses in other, more critical areas.
Infrastructure contributes significantly to economic growth. All types of infrastructure development projects can raise people’s quality of life and help businesses evolve quicker. Completing an infrastructure project, however, is impossible without teams of reliable experts with experience in their respective industries. Private and public entities that want to launch an infrastructure development project should get informed about the main associated challenges and prepare in advance to tackle them accordingly.