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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Bam adopts AI for risk management

Bam is rolling out a new approach to portfolio risk management powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and past project data.

Bam is the launch partner for nPlan Portfolio, making it the first contractor anywhere in the world to use nPlan’s AI and big data to quantify and manage schedule risk across a portfolio of projects.

Bam will use the tech to oversee an initial portfolio of 50 projects and work nPlan to refine the product as required.

According to nPlan, Bam will be able to analyse a portfolio of contracts through an AI ‘lens’, providing insight into risks to schedule and cost, applying machine learning capability at a portfolio level. “Ultimately this will enable more affordable outcomes for clients during a time of increasing cost pressures and funding constraints,” nPlan said.

Since its founding in 2017, nPlan proposition is that big construction projects can best be de-risked by studying past project data – a task for which a machine is best suited. nPlan set about assembling a dataset of as-planned and as-built schedules from past projects (which currently includes over 740,000 programmes and rising) and used this data to train an AI to model project performance. When one of nPlan’s customers uploads a project schedule to nPlan Insights (nPlan’s SaaS platform for forecasting and de-risking individual projects), the AI uses its model to generate a probabilistic forecast for every activity in the schedule, and the software then turns this into a whole-project forecast and surfaces the activities most likely to drive delay.

Bam portfolio director David Bunn said: “As our clients are increasingly moving towards outcome-focused capital programmes we are seeing a shift in our leadership focus to the risks to delivery of those outcomes rather than just the risks to project delivery. Applying nPlan’s AI capability at a portfolio oversight level allows us to quickly target our leadership interventions to the right areas across a large portfolio of projects, to mitigate risks to outcomes being delivered when they are needed. In this initial deployment we are assessing the capability in parallel with our existing approach to offer an additional view of schedule risk without the influence of typical human biases. We expect this to enable greater optimisation of integrated portfolio schedules, which will ultimately benefit our clients.”

Dev Amratia, chief executive of nPlan, said: “Accurately forecasting and effectively de-risking a single large-scale project is extremely challenging - doing the same for a whole portfolio of projects is an order of magnitude more difficult. It is also arguably an order of magnitude more important, because unrecognised portfolio risk has led to the demise of many contractors–and the loss of the jobs they provided–over the years. nPlan made its name solving the forecasting and risk identification problem for single projects - and we’re incredibly excited that we now also have a system which can enable portfolio managers to solve the portfolio risk problem on behalf of their organisations. This was a problem which many people said was a fact of life within the construction industry, but we’ve shown it can be addressed - and we’ll continue to work on the really thorny problems limiting growth and development, because ultimately that’s what gets us out of bed in the morning.”

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