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Cost, Time and Quality | The Golden Triangle in Construction

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Project Failure (Cost, Time and Quality)

In all developed projects, a balance between cost and value must be established (CIOB, 2014). The nature of the project would be influential in determining the prioritised objective of time, cost or quality/performance. As outlined in the publication by the Society of Construction Law (CIOB, 2014), the most common causes that result in a project failure, where the lack of clear links between the project and the client’s organisation key strategic priorities with a misunderstanding on the agreed measures of success were the causes of projects not achieving the promised deliverables.

Recent researched into major projects by (Dalton, 2008) as shown in Table 1 found that 75-80% of the causes of projects failing were due to procurement, the definition of project requirements and the client’s management capabilities.

Top 10 risk sources of infrastructure projects failure (Dalton, 2008)

Table 1 - Top 10 risk sources of infrastructure projects failure (Dalton, 2008)

Procurement Models

Different procurement models are present in the market with the aim of establishing the desirable roles, relationships, responsibilities and risks carried by the parties involved in an infrastructure project. Moreover, key strategic elements have to be decided early in the project development process of business needs, project and construction objectives that will define the most suitable procurement system for the case. Based on the client’s criteria and the construction project itself, different methods on the basis of time, cost and quality are chosen and appraised.

Various procurement models provide minimum risk in terms of cost to the client by spreading it to the various parties down the supply chain and other prioritise completion time of the project with having a high risk on budget overdrafts. For instance, the most popular model of Design and Build offers the client reliable quality, economy and speed as a lump sum contract is appointed.

On the other hand, Traditional procurement offers a more innovative design and high standards of performance but will have high risks for the client to run overdue. Management procurement systems due to the release of packages have the opportunity to divert the risk to the various contractors under separate contracts but will have a risk factor in terms of project time and cost due to the price not being known of its totality at the start of the project.

Nevertheless, all the procurement options provide satisfactory performance in the objectives of the golden triangle with emphasis on one particular objective of time, cost or quality which can affect the priority given to the allocation of project resources and the way management is concentrated (Lock, 2013) as well as different levels of risk and control for the client are offered for every model.

Prioritisation of the Golden Triangle

Primary objectives of cost, quality and time are heavily interrelated and are clear benchmarks against which to judge success or failure (Lock, 2013). Not having a clear prioritisation of the golden triangle objectives will result in the failure of delivering the goals set by the client. Hence, establishing from the earliest stages of the preparation of the design brief until the design completion, risk and value management principles should be effectively applied with the emphasis on providing value for money to the client with optimum time and cost without compromising quality, scope and specifications (CIOB, 2014).

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