If you reduce the level of unnecessary project rework you can reduce the project delivery costs by 15%-20%

Reducing the need for rework

Lack of specific clarity across all levels of the project, can cause up to 35% of project time to be spent on rework. While you don’t want rework to be zero, you don’t want it to be above 15%.

Reducing the need for rework releases15-20% of project time and effort for more productive work and faster, lower cost project delivery.

So much rework is hidden on projects – revising reports, revisiting decisions, redoing work, correcting errors, checking again, repeating steps again. Not every project gets to the 30%-35% rework effort level but this is the average across projects. Think about how many projects you have started again; that have gone through one solution selection process and then had to do it again; that has had to ask for more funds due to the need for extra work caused by earlier mistakes – this is all rework, additional work with no additional value attached.

We have confirmed this figure repeatedly across organizations, portfolios and within projects – it is frighteningly consistent. Now, you don’t want rework to be zero as you do want to revisit some ideas, try some approaches out to see if they work and correct earlier mistakes – but you don’t want this level of effort to be above 15% of the total time and effort.

This reduction in rework time can be enabled by the generation of clear, agreed, measurable desired business outcomes that are used to drive all dimensions of the project. These clear and very specific outcome statements ensure clarity of direction and avoid false starts or misalignments.

However most projects (over 90%) never clearly specify their true business outcomes at all – hence the perpetuation of the rework problem. When people are unclear as to the true end state business outcomes they will veer off course resulting in the subsequent need for rework.

NB Most of the project team are not around when the project is initiated, they need to understand exactly what the project is all about when they come on. Most projects do not have a way of doing this. 

More rework can be avoided through active alignment management to ensure all activities across the project are in alignment with what the project is delivering and what the business needs so as to realize the available business outcomes, benefits and value.

When you do reduce the level of rework you shorten the project’s duration and reduce its cost – and this all increases the net value – a triple benefit again!

Explore more the power of these outcome statements


Topics: Project Controls, Costs and Waste

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Jul 2010) as "How To Reduce Project Costs - Reduce Project Rework"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections