These statistics apply to the development of computer software; but they feel just about right for building projects, too. In both kinds of projects the traditional methodology has been a "waterfall" model. One phase follows another in a sequential process.
The hidden defect in this approach is that the millions of decisions that must be made throughout the course of even a small project are hard to anticipate in the earliest phase. So as each succeeding phase tries to build upon past decisions there is a tendency to cobble together a compromise that allows the process to move forward. Often you reach a point where this doesn't work, and then it's back to the drawing board. With this in mind it is easy to see why the statistics above are so grim.
What is needed is a process that creates a touchstone for dealing with those millions of decisions. That touchstone is Planning. Planning is the much-overlooked initial phase of a project. Done properly, Planning sets the criteria by which to judge the success of the project. So, this same criteria guides you in making those millions of decisions. Planning amounts to a thorough evaluation of the six key issues that every project faces. Approached this way Planning will develop a complete description of what the project needs to achieve. Planning is a service that your client needs before embarking on design and one that will differentiate you from other firms.
Those six key issues are
- Needs - the space and features that are required
- Character - the 'image' that the finished project should convey
- Constraints - the obstacles that stand in the way, e.g. code, zoning
- Context - the location of the project and the influence that it has
- Budget - where the funds will come from and how they will be allocated
- Schedule - the timeline for planning, design, and construction