Why are Critical Success Factors Critical?

With every job comes a host of factors that can make or break a project. In construction, the ultimate goal is to deliver a quality facility that meets, or exceeds, owner expectations, while eliminating as much stress as possible for the customer. To do so, DPR has zeroed in on six areas that are directly linked to the success of every project: Preconstruction Excellence, Scheduling, Safety, Change Management, Zero Defects and Project Closeout.

The six criteria, or Critical Success Factors (CSFs), as they are called at DPR, provide a consistent framework for evaluating overall project performance and offer a means for customers to quantify project success. The idea is that customers can breathe a little easier knowing that their teams are tracking these performance indicators, staying on top of critical project issues.

PRECONSTRUCTION EXCELLENCE: The first baseline estimate is a reliable forecast of the GMP.

Customers rely on a contractor’s ability to accurately predict the final cost of the project—even before design is complete. DPR’s Preconstruction Excellence CSF measures the first baseline estimate against the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) with the goal of achieving a ratio of 1.0. “A lot of contractors talk about estimating accuracy, but how do you prove it,” said Brian Gracz, CSF champion for DPR. “By tracking our preconstruction performance, we’re able to authenticate the reliability of our estimates, minimizing any surprises for the owner and allowing him or her to make better decisions at a much earlier stage of the game.” Since Q1 of 2005, DPR has averaged 1.03 in preconstruction performance based on 197 projects.

SAFETY: Zero Incidents.

As one of the safest contractors in the country, DPR has created a safety culture where everyone truly believes that zero incidents is an achievable goal and data, including incident rates, recordable injuries and leading indicators, are measured and evaluated daily. This commitment in 2006 resulted in a recordable incident rate of 2.03 based on more than four million hours worked.

SCHEDULING: The date given at mobilization for substantial completion will be met.

With every project, customers plan and make corporate commitments. DPR’s goal is to meet its commitments to its customers and complete all projects on or before the date originally promised during project mobilization, despite scope changes, weather or other unavoidable delays. In 2006, DPR completed more than 159 projects on or before schedule.

CHANGE MANAGEMENT: From rough order of magnitude to resolution in less than 30 days.

The reality is that changes do happen on projects. It is how those changes are communicated and handled that makes the difference. DPR has implemented a process to ensure that any change pricing is competitive and strives to resolve issues in less than 30 days. For example, on a 13-month, 40,000-sq.-ft. biomedical research facility, the team resolved 89 changes in less than an average of 22 days. DPR provides detailed back-up on all changes, helping to reassure customers that they are getting the best possible value.

ZERO DEFECTS: Zero unfinished punchlist items at substantial completion.

Zero Defects is the foundation of DPR’s quality assurance program. One of the first contractors to launch such an initiative, DPR aims to abolish punchlists completely, ensuring delivery of a quality product on the day of substantial completion. Over the last 15 months, 42.2 percent of 223 projects received a signed Zero Defects letters from customers.

PROJECT CLOSEOUT: Closeout within 60 days of substantial completion.

The project closeout process begins at the start of a project and includes the preparation of a customized plan that meets individual customer requirements. Part of the process incorporates turnover of all necessary warranty and O&M documentation, aiding in the future care-taking of the facility.