Change continues to be the defining feature of European capital project management in 2017. Throughout several industries, including oil and gas, engineering and construction, and the public sector, major internal and external forces are driving forward change, requiring industry leaders to rethink strategies.
European spending on infrastructure is driven by a vast array of factors, each with its own dynamics and degree of volatility. This year has begun with a significant amount of global, economic, and political unrest which may cause organisations to change tack in regards to their progression. We have explored some of the factors likely to impact capital projects throughout the new year and beyond.
The full force of Britain’s decision to leave the EU remains uncertain.
Though the triggering of Article 50 is scheduled for March, meaning that the UK will be expected to have left by the summer of 2019, the real impact of Brexit on European industry is unknown. Unpicking 43 years of treaties and agreements covering thousands of different subjects, including trade deals, commodities, and corporate taxes, could result in any number of different scenarios with significant variation in impact – positive, negative, or otherwise.
In the majority of projections though, Brexit is likely to impact British contractors most heavily. UK companies’ freedom to participate in tender processes for European infrastructure projects will be determined by whether the UK remains a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). Although leaving the EEA will not necessarily result in an inability for British firms to apply for tender, there will be a greater number of barriers in their way.
Brexit is likely to impact industry leaders significantly. For European based companies, the reduction in competition from UK businesses could be beneficial, yet the trade deal renegotiations could result in less competition for resources, and therefore increased building costs. For UK-based companies, competition on British contracts will be greatly reduced, alleviating some of the concerns that EU contract application will be hampered.
In recent years, European capital projects have become more closely scrutinised than ever before.
Today, clients and contractors must consult with regulators and refine their processes accordingly to ensure that fines and delays are avoided at all costs. With an influx of laws and regulations that empower community groups, minimise impact on neighbourhoods, and protect the environment, the list of standards and laws that industry leaders must adhere to is as long as it’s ever been.
To this end, project and risk management tools are becoming increasingly useful – having the ability to plan, schedule, and control complex projects from initial planning through to execution, while integrating regulatory data, ensures that no critical information is overlooked. In 2017, tightening standards will become an ongoing struggle, especially in a strained credit environment, where the stakes are higher than ever, and in which project owners are under increasing pressure to manage their projects to a successful and timely completion.
In spite of the short-term challenges to European capital projects and infrastructure outlined above, long-term economic spending remains positive. The need for infrastructure hasn’t diminished, and spending will continue to be driven by its demand in modern society.
The objective for industry leaders in 2017 is to manage effectively throughout the short-term while preparing for a more positive outlook in the future. Striking the right balance between high and low-risk investments and deploying quantitative project risk analysis throughout projects will ensure that industry leaders are prepared to respond, adapt and benefit from conditions as they change.
Increase in Technology
Traditionally, capital projects and infrastructure have been seen as predictable, engineering-driven, and labour intensive – certainly not at the cutting-edge of technology. But, with a wide-array of breakthrough technologies reshaping the way the infrastructure industry operates, that reality is changing, and fast.
Today, companies are beginning to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technologies such as drones and 3D printing to transform the way infrastructure is built and operated. And it is not just the technology that is evolving – the capital projects workforce is also experiencing a transition as more technically-savvy professionals continue to flood the workplace.
The level of technical understanding within capital project teams is quickly improving. In 2017, industry leaders will desire more automation and technology-based solutions to account for this rise, so integrated project manager tools will be highly valued.
We have outlined some of the factors that may impact the capital projects and infrastructure industry throughout 2017, but what about the long-term future?
In economic terms, between now and 2020, global infrastructure spending could vary by as much as $1.7 trillion depending on which macro-economic projection you wish to believe. In a best case scenario in which there is a global economic upturn, it is estimated that infrastructure spending could reach almost $29 trillion.
Despite the short-term challenges and uncertainty that surrounds Brexit and the tightening of regulatory standards, the long-term European economic outlook remains positive. Technical innovation and industry adoption will also play an integral part within the capital projects and infrastructure industry over the next few years, and tools which aid automation will be highly sought by industry leaders. To see for yourself how integrated project management tools can aid capital project planning click below.