Lessons learnt from AI in practice on major projects

Endeavour Programme and BMD Urban: Lessons learnt from AI in practice on major projects

By Dr George Quezada, CSIRO Data61 on secondment to Arup Australasia

The world is amidst an artificial intelligence (AI) arms race with tech giants and national governments vying to create the best tech and skills ecosystem. According to CSIRO’s Data61 recent report, Australia’s AI Roadmap[1], AI could be worth over $22 trillion to the global economy by 2030. That’s new value created by humans working collaboratively with a new breed of software tools. Software that can harness and use enormous amounts of data to realise untapped value and achieve benefits and important goals, such as early detection of cancer, agricultural robots, vehicle crash avoidance, targeted infrastructure maintenance and more.

But what does it take to implement AI technology and create a successful business use case? I’ve explored this question with Australian-based AI start-up Endeavour Programme which is working with Brisbane-based civil construction company BMD Urban. BMD Urban is presently implementing Octant AI, an AI-enabled project management tool to help the business and project managers detect problematic projects, 30-60 percent ahead of time compared to current processes. The collaboration between Endeavour Programme and BMD Urban provides a useful case study to illustrate how adopting advanced AI technology enhances capabilities to tackle practical business problems and can provide valuable business insights and identify commercial opportunities and benefits. Read more +


Reflections on the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Insights for major capital projects

With the World Economic Forum currently underway in Switzerland, I reflect on 6 June 2018. On this day, I was honoured to attend a select round-table discussion hosted jointly by the World Economic Forum Infrastructure and Urban Development Industries community, Stanford’s Global Projects Center and the Major Programme Management group at Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

This round table brought together a distinguished group of 30 industry professionals, senior executives, academics and other thought-leaders to discuss the challenges affecting the global construction industry. These discussions were part of a series of strategic dialogues designed to promote a cross-disciplinary agenda of industry reform, bringing together professionals of all disciplines who are committed to transforming the way major capital projects are planned and delivered for the future. Read more +


BMD and Endeavour Programme Collaboration progresses to Implementation Phase

Over the last 12 months Endeavour Programme has been working closely with BMD Group Business Systems Manager Patrick Pearl to pilot the use of Octant. Data from almost 460 projects collected over seven years was used to demonstrate the business advantages of machine learning and artificial intelligence in predicting outcomes sooner than business norms and with greater accuracy.

Having completed several rounds of testing, our collaboration now moves into the implementation phase. We are working with a number of BMD senior managers and we expect to augment current business procedures with additional insights. Artificial intelligence predictions will alert these managers to projects with emerging cost over-runs and under-runs. Read more +


Bent Flyvbjerg receives the 2019 PMI Research Achievement Award

Today, the Project Management Institute (PMI) will recognise the important work and contribution to the project management profession of one of our teaming partners, Professor Bent Flyvbjerg, by presenting him with the 2019 PMI Research Achievement Award. The PMI Research Achievement Award recognises and honours an individual whose work has significantly advanced the concepts, knowledge, and practices of project management through a published body of academic research.

Read the full article here.


The end of cost and time overruns in major programme management?

Time and cost overruns are a well-known feature of major infrastructure and IT projects around the world.

Hitting the headlines regularly are reports of budgets spiralling out of control, and projects completing months or years past their proposed launch dates, negatively impacting companies, cities or even whole economies.

Two alumni of the MSc Major Programme Management (MMPM) at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford are changing that by bringing AI to the sector. David Porter, a successful businessman with no previous exposure to AI, and Cuong Quang, a project manager with industrial AI experience, met in 2015 on the MMPM and set up Endeavour Programme. Cuong has commercialised his AI innovations through Endeavour Programme to tackle the issues that surround the effective delivery of mega-projects and break the cycle of failure. Read more +


Octant AI Product Update

Octant Predict

Endeavour Programme’s Octant AI Predict Module forecasts final cost and project profitability, using powerful algorithms and extensive industry data from many sectors (water, road and civil projects). The artificial intelligence platform can be used to provide data driven predictions for any similar projects for any sector specific client. The most advanced sector in the stable focusses on roads and civil projects with a building project platform in the wings. Octant AI reduces costs and time overruns by providing project decision makers with more accurate, faster and earlier project outcome forecasts, which allows more informed decisions with less uncertainty. It is the vanguard of a new approach to project decision making which underpins measurable improvement to the current non-AI methods used globally.

Octant AI is cloud based and runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS) which is secure, easy to use, integrates with most corporate data warehousing systems and operates across any device. It is accessed online in a SaaS format. Risks of data security have been addressed, with an easily adapted method available to integrate with client data security and privacy policies. Read more +


Effective vs Efficient

“What I am is something unbearable for the world of clichés; I’m a realist.” Gore Vidal.

When it comes to managing major projects, we strive for “effective and efficient”. It’s a cliché. Thinking about it, effective is a hurdle to get to efficient. Without effective there is no efficient. Research shows that more often than not, major projects don’t clear this hurdle. Read more +


The Future Management of Large-Scale Projects

Project managers are expected to effectively manage large and complex projects or programmes, but it is widely recognised that these large-scale projects are not always delivered as planned. In liaison with the client, project managers commit to delivering the defined scope, within a forecast time and to a designated budget.

Despite the unavoidable optimism bias of project managers, in which we hear “not my projects, my projects are different”, the statistics around project delivery tell us majority of projects face budget overruns and delays. Nine out of 10 projects go over budget, with time overruns also being a major issue. It is true that some projects are delivered successfully, although the odds are not in favour of large-scale projects. Read more +


Project Management starts with Philosophy

We think of project management as practical methods, skills, systems and tools for achieving practical and measurable outcomes. However, a project management philosophy underpins this. All forms of human knowledge have a philosophy, as philosophy is the discipline which examines our understanding of the nature of knowledge itself.

Project Management even has a book called the Project Management Book of Knowledge. We believe that when the body of knowledge is applied effectively the results will lead to an outcome which delivers certain benefits, at a certain time within a certain cost limitation. When this does not happen, we mostly focus on the word effectively and our assumption is that more effective application of the existing paradigm is the answer. Thus, we apply more tools, methods, training and processes that are all aimed at effectively implementing a dominant project management philosophy. But what if this doesn’t work very well? Read more +


We can do a lot better than Airport Infrastructure best practice

Oracle reports that almost US$750 billion in airport construction projects are underway or planned. A recent article on Airport Project Activity canvases best practice for airport planning and construction. We should be in no doubt however, that the odds are that airport projects will not be delivered on time and on budget.

There are some truly fantastic examples of current disasters. Berlin’s new airport continues to surprise even the most pessimistic observers. In May 2019 its forecast cost was US$8 billion, up from the initially scoped US$3 billion, and the opening date is now forecast to be 2020, blowing out from 2007. Berlin is not alone. The European Court of Auditors (ECA) examined 20 European funded airports in 2014. It found that 14 of the 20 experienced significant time overruns, and that significant cost overruns were experienced in nearly half of those examined. To make matters worse, the ECA report found only half of the audited airports succeeded in increasing their passenger numbers and improvements in customer service were either not measured or not evidenced. Read more +