At the Tuesday September 27th Executive Committee meeting we received an update about the Walterdale Bridge delay. While this delay is frustrating, what concerned me more was the discussion around deadlines for projects. It was suggested that completion dates may need to be less specific on major projects as they are quite complex. While I appreciate the complexity of major projects, I believe continuing to provide firm deadlines is critical for the city. Deadlines let residents know when they will be able to use certain infrastructure and they allow residents the opportunity to ensure that City Council is completing the necessary oversight.

I have written about project management both in February and most recently in July. If you haven’t had the chance to read those posts, please take a few moments to do that. In those posts I review many of the changes that have occurred within the city over the last two years. The most important statistic from the July post is that as of June 30th 2016, 84% of our significant capital projects are on or ahead of schedule while 98% are on or under budget. That suggests to me that the staffing, process and reporting changes in the last two years have made a positive difference.

Those results show that we are not perfect, but due to the new reporting that occurs, I know the status of each significant capital project. In some cases a project was delayed because Council approved a change in the scope of a project. Another was delayed so we could work with two other municipalities in the region and possibly see a cost reduction. By changing how reporting happens, you are able to read about each of the major capital projects and hold me accountable if you don’t feel I am providing the necessary oversight.

I understand that by continuing to set firm deadlines we will occasionally disappoint people as there will be times things do not go according to plan. But I believe that people expect firm deadlines to be set because deadlines are a part of our everyday lives. Nobody would hire a company if they said, “we will complete this job between July-December” because we expect greatly certainty.

My commitment to you is if a new project comes forward with a vague deadline, I will ask for a firm deadline to be set. I cannot promise that 100% of our projects will be on or ahead of schedule but I can commit to setting proper expectations and providing ongoing communication to ensure that you are aware of the status of all major capital projects. If you have any questions about the changes made over the past two years, please put them in the comments below.

2 Comments

  1. Stephen Poole, P. Eng. on November 22, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    I strongly agree with the provision of firm deadlines for all projects, including major and complex projects. The publicly released firm deadline should be quoted exactly as agreed in the contract. If anything else is quoted publicly the contractor will be able to argue that the client (the City) did not really expect them meet the contracted deadline. This could become an issue is a dispute arises. Assuming that we now have good project management practices, the City’s communication folks should be able to openly and transparently communicate anything that goes awry to the citizens.

    • Andrew Knack on November 22, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks for the feedback Stephen, I appreciate it. The discussion at the Executive Committee earlier today gives me confidence that firm deadlines will absolutely be a part of our future.

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