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Project Rework Series (2)

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Author: Reinhard Wagner     Source: PMR

Rework has been a common problem, especially in the construction projects, resulting in problems such as higher costs and longer duration. Recently, PMR magazine collected opinions about causes of and solutions to rework across the globe. The following is Reinhard Wagner's contribution: 


At first it may sound crazy when you have to do "rework" in a project. In the classical sense, this shouldn't even be necessary because everything has been planned in detail. In practice, however, misunderstandings may have arisen, the customer was not sufficiently asked about his expectations and only at the end realizes that the result does not meet his requirements at all. Then, of course, the project team has no choice but to rework. Or errors have occurred during the project which remain undetected until a later point in time and must now be corrected at great expense. In both cases it is clear that the need for rework should be reduced by involving the customer at an early stage or by clarifying expectations or quality requirements.

In a complex and dynamic project context, however, "rework" becomes an important working principle. Here, the customer's expectations are not stable, but change more frequently. The customer is involved in the project work at an early stage and contributes (new) expectations regarding the results on an ongoing basis. This makes a continuous improvement of the work result inevitable. The goal is not the perfect end product, but to have a "minimum viable product (MVP)" as early as possible, which is then iteratively improved together with the customer in the further course of the project.

The ”Effectuation” concept of Professor Saras Sarasvathy at University of Virginia advocates the “bird-in-hand principle”. Your starting point is your means and not your goal. Begin with looking at what resources you have at your disposal right now. This stocktaking can be made by asking yourself the questions: who am I, what do I know and whom do I know? How can you use these resources immediately  to take action and start interacting with people? Thus, action is always taken based on the current situation, even if this may be unfavourable for a perfectly planned procedure or result. It is rather a matter of quickly grasping the situation, taking advantage of the available skills and resources to further develop the product. The idea behind this is that new approaches are always emerging, and thus a possibly far more creative solution can be found than by thinking and planning hard beforehand. In business as well as in science this approach sounds rather unprofessional, like "muddling through", but as an innovation technique this is more and more recognized today.


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