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Technology to shift project relations from adversarial to cooperative

Specialist business and project management consultancy SSG Consulting strategy and business development GM Jacques Marais discusses the company’s KEY360 mobile application. Camerawork: Nicholas Boyd. Editing: Lionel da Silva.
ENABLING TECHNOLOGY The real-time nature of dashboarding on the KEY360 app eliminates the lag between project reviews

Fluctuating global commodity demand and prices, as well as escalating geopolitical risks, are causing concern among asset owners and investors, resulting in capital projects either being postponed or cancelled in the South African mining industry, states specialist business and project management consultancy SSG Consulting strategy and business development GM Jacques Marais.

He explains to Mining Weekly that, locally, uncertainty regarding mining legislation, particularly the latest iteration of the Mining Charter, is affecting market appetite for large, multiyear projects.

Marais notes that the project management industry also continues to face the decreasing availability of locally and internationally skilled resources.

Project owners have little control over these macro issues. Fewer projects mean that engineering, procurement, construction and management contractors are increasingly competing for the same work.

In some instances, Marais explains that they are bidding at or below cost which neces- sitates cost cutting and industry consolidation.

Some project owners follow punitive procurement and contracting practices, which put contractors under severe pressure.

“Investor owners and contractors need to adopt a more sustainable approach to project pricing, risk management and execution. Exponential improvements in stakeholder cooperation are key to achieving successful projects.” Marais avers.

He observes that projects are often characterised by poor performance in some or all of the project phases.

“To some extent, project participants operate in silos and pass on their work to the next phase with a hole-in-the-wall mindset. This disjointed process is partly driven by inadequate and unintegrated software tools.”

However, he notes that project owners can address project risks to entice investment using SSG’s newly developed KEY360 mobile application (app), which is currently free of charge to organisations using the KEY360 software.

Available on all iOS and Android devices, the app features an easy-to-use KEY360 interface for all on-site and mobile project participants.

The app gives on-site personnel the ability to capture progress as it happens. Giving users across different organisations real-time access to the same project data, KEY360 removes all interdisciplinary and client-contractor bottle- necks while maintaining user- defined information security.

“By monitoring and visualising work processes, efficiency is dramatically improved, while identifying where work is not being done or being delayed,” Marais adds.

He explains that, owing to its powerful data visualisation, users are able to self-correct and adapt their task priorities as soon as problems surface, regardless of whether the issues are technical or people driven.

In this way, Marais notes that behaviour is changed without delayed management intervention.

“The real-time nature of dashboarding on the app eliminates the lag between project reviews, based on cumbersome report generation, and operational correction. The KEY360 app makes agile strategy adjustment possible for all projects.”

He adds that the app has great scope in a project management application and enables massive workflow efficiency gains by allowing for the relevant documentation and information to be transferred between organisations through social-media-type transactions.

Owing to the cloud-based nature of KEY360, the app is available to any international KEY360 client, Marais notes, with its roll-out currently under way in Australia, the Middle East and the rest of Africa, with the US to follow.

He adds that multinational corporations or companies can monitor their worldwide project portfolios from a single control room anywhere globally.

KEY360 is offered as a ‘software as a service’ solution to clients.

“A small build solution is now available for small and medium-sized enterprises, such as small engineering consultancies and contractors,” he adds.

SSG’s traditional client base includes the mining, construction, power generation and petrochemicals industries, with the company currently entering the banking and higher education sectors.

However, owing to the way KEY360 and its app have been developed, the company notes that it can now expand beyond these industries into any industry where projects require real-time, hands-on management with purpose- built, actionable information visualisation and reporting.

“We believe that a lack of trust between project participants leads to poor communication and delayed information sharing. This results in tremendous transactional costs arising from engineering specifications, fabrication mistakes and rework, project overruns and claims,” Marais explains.

Owing to all stakeholders wanting their projects to succeed, SSG believes that the successful projects of the future will be characterised by intentional, transparent and timeous information sharing.

“Relationships must move from adversarial to cooperative. Inevitable project challenges will be jointly solved. This is not possible without enabling technology, such as KEY360,” Marais concludes.