Institution of Civil Engineers Report: A Systems Approach to Infrastructure Delivery (SAID)

In recent years, a number of major infrastructure projects have suffered from severe delays and overrunning costs. Against this backdrop, Andrew McNaughton, Director of Aczel’s infrastructure practice and formerly of Systra and Balfour Beatty, was asked to investigate whether a more systems-focused approach could improve project delivery. Further, what would be the impact on how projects are conceived, led, designed, delivered and integrated into an infrastructure owner’s existing operations. The result is the SAID study released in December 2020 – access the SAID study here

SAID Executive summary

Today’s infrastructure services are delivered via complex projects that bring together physical assets, technology and digital information which must be integrated into existing networks and services. This means that even relatively small infrastructure projects are complex systems with physical, economic and social characteristics

The rapid evolution of technology adds to the challenge. In areas such as communications or power distribution and storage, the rate of change is far outstripping developments in structural design or construction methods. This technology will go through many cycles of development during the lifetime of the physical structures that surround it

The dominant leadership and delivery model for infrastructure projects has not evolved to reflect these profound changes. Delivery remains in the hands of traditionally trained engineers working within organisations using long-established construction industry methods. The consequence of this conservatism is an increasing number of signature projects that are delivered behind schedule, beyond the cost estimate and that fail to meet the public’s expectations

The output from the review is a Systems Approach to Infrastructure Delivery (SAID) with systems thinking, systems engineering and systems integration at its heart. These practices have been extremely effective in other project-based industries such as oil and gas and aerospace. Adopting what works from these sectors can help the infrastructure sector to make rapid progress in the short term. In the medium term, it needs to look at how the technology and software industries have taken advantage of an intense continuous development mindset to help systems adapt to rapidly changing user needs, and the opportunities created by technological change

Aczel's role in the delivery of SAID

For many years Aczel has been helping deliver major projects in the world leading industries cited by the SAID report.  We’ve applied systems thinking to defining outcomes, specifying, planning, integrating and delivering some of the most complex projects in existence. Going further we’ve captured our experience and knowledge in our methodology which we deploy for our clients

We’ve combined this experience and methodology with a cadre of highly experienced professionals from road, rail and construction to bring SAID practices to infrastructure projects

Your contact

Andrew McNaughton

Director

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