CQU Project Management education

Reducing the cost of project rework

Jed Simms
July 7, 2011

You can lose value because you lack overall clarity across all levels of the project, allowing up to 35% of project time to be spent on rework. While you don’t want rework to be zero, you don’t want it to be above 15%.

Reducing the need for rework releases 15-20% of project time and effort for more productive work and faster, lower cost project delivery.

So much rework is hidden on projects: revising reports, revisiting decisions, redoing work, correcting errors, checking again, repeating steps again. Not every project gets to the 30-35% rework effort level, but this is the average across projects.

Think about how many projects you have started that have gone through one solution selection process and then had to do it again or that have had to ask for more funds due to the need for extra work caused by earlier mistakes—this is all rework, additional work with no additional value attached.

We have confirmed this figure repeatedly across organisations, portfolios and within projects: it is frighteningly consistent. Now, you don’t want rework to be zero as you do want to revisit some ideas, try some approaches out to see if they work, and correct earlier mistakes, but you don’t want this level of effort to be above 15% of the total time and effort.

This reduction in rework time can be enabled by the generation of clear, agreed, measurable desired business outcomes that are used to drive all dimensions of the project. These clear and very specific outcome statements ensure clarity of direction and avoid false starts or misalignments.

More than 90% of projects, however, never clearly specify their true business outcomes at all, hence the perpetuation of the rework problem. When people are unclear as to the outcomes they will veer off course, resulting in the subsequent need for rework.

More rework can be avoided through active alignment management to ensure all activities across the project are in alignment and no gap is created between what the project is delivering and what the business needs in order to realise the available business outcomes, benefits and value.

When you do reduce the level of rework you shorten the project’s duration and reduce its cost, which increases the net value—a triple benefit!

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Jed Simms
Jed Simms is the founder and co-creator of Totally Optimized Projects, an internationally recognised strategy-based, business-driven approach to delivering projects. He specialises in project governance and control and value and benefits management. He is also the founding partner of consultancy Capability Management.
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