Dear Colleagues,

When you accelerate or expedite a job such as building a factory or power station or manufacturing widgets; you often believe that savings can be achieved by reducing your indirect costs – equipment rental/rental of buildings/insurance/electrical and water and insurance. Obviously, direct costs such as people and materials will stay the same, as you still have to achieve the same amount of work.

Costs Skyrocket
As those you well versed in these matters know; the truth of costs is somewhat more devious. Working at an expedited rate means more errors/reworking of substandard bits/overtime pay/mistakes and confusion.

There is an optimal project duration to minimise the sum of direct and indirect costs. But in expediting something; your costs will invariably leap.

Sometimes you can Justify The Higher Costs
When expediting a schedule, the costs can sometimes be justified. A building has to be constructed because it is urgently needed. Or a developer believes she can sell it if it is constructed immediately. Or a disaster area urgently needs new sewage, water and electricity facilities to mimimise disease and famine of the local population. Or the fickle market is screaming out for the latest Apple gadget. If you don’t deliver now; you will lose out to a competitor.

A Measured Approach Is Always The Ticket
However, a carefully considered specification, design, construction and commissioning and handover generally always minimises the costs and raises the chances the project will be successful. And indeed, that people will not be injured in the construction and the final result will be safe for the community.

Please Consider This
So when being asked by someone to build a switchboard faster or construct a building in less time or complete a power station as a fast track program; you need to realize that there is an additional cost attached to the request. Make sure you have factored it in and tell your client the unpleasant news about costs upfront.

Thanks to 101 Things I learned in Engineering School by John Kuprenas with Matthew Frederick for some interesting reading on this topic.

As far as moving faster, Rollo May remarked:   It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.

Yours in engineering learning,

Steve

The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is dedicated to ensuring our students receive a world-class education and gain skills they can immediately implement in the workplace upon graduation. Our staff members uphold our ethos of honesty and integrity, and we stand by our word because it is our bond. Our students are also expected to carry this attitude throughout their time at our institute, and into their careers.