Embarking on a professional journey as a researcher and auditor of large construction projects to founding Concord® Project Technologies Inc, realizing the loopholes in the construction industry to achieve predictable delivery, Olfa Hamdi brought a crucial change to the capital projects industry.
Understanding various factors that impact predictability to help companies attain their project goals on time and onbudget delivery, Olfa implements her expertise by putting together a proprietary support system with a platform that drives her vision. After she co-invented Advanced Work Packaging (AWP), the method became an industry Best Practice across industrial construction. As the CEO, Olfa envisions Concord® as the premier company that supports clients with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver on time and budget, ensuring predictable outcomes.
The quote goes, “A smooth sea never makes a skilled sailor.” Olfa knew that it wouldn’t be an easy path, which is why she faced every challenge with a smile that spread eye to eye. She began the entrepreneurial ride in the market filled with renowned companies offering numerous services. What made Olfa’s particular approach stand out in the industry was the Advanced Work Packaging methodology she invented at the University of Texas, Austin. This methodology resulted in Concord® having ExxonMobil and Shell as their client from day one, expanding its clientele worldwide gradually, becoming the most valuable consulting business in the capital projects.
Olfa expressed that starting the company with a global purpose; she came across one of the primary challenges of traveling to international markets. When the COVID hit the surface, travel restrictions were imposed globally, giving Olfa the chance to invest in Concord’s certification, training, and consulting services, using online learning management systems and cloud platforms.
Concord® continued growing exponentially, reaching thousands of professionals throughout the industry leveraging technology, and to Olfa’s surprise, the industry was way more open to using technology and delivering projects virtually.
Talking about the crucial obstacles of construction and its related industries, Olfa asserts, “Any type of construction project has an excess amount of waste. There is so much unpredictability that our industry has gotten used to and started accepting the fact that projects can be finished late. We got used to having a lot of change orders having many claims. Everybody accepts that.”
“With Concord, I came to the market and said, ‘Enough with this waste.’ We want to believe that we could achieve on-time and on-budget delivery systematically, avoiding late and over-budget projects,” clarifies Olfa.
Olfa continues, “This is applicable to infrastructure projects, which are funded by the taxpayers; and equally applicable to private projects, for which the shareholders pay. We’re saying predictability is good for business, and we need to know and make that happen. So, initially, the was a little bit of resistance. However, with awareness, as Concord® produces its publication called Velocity, which drives our industry’s thinking and debate, conveying thought leadership and innovation articles, every week. So, that we can move the market, empowering professionals to deliver on-time and on-budget systematically.”
Olfa accumulated extensive experience in her early career as an auditor of multi-billion dollar capital project and researcher that led her to found Advanced Work Packaging Institute as a nonprofit research organization, exploring the market around the industry getting it ready for change. She noticed that several renowned consulting businesses didn’t have accountability for the outcome as service providers.
She states that like every other stakeholder in a project, these service providers charge hourly rates and large contracts for massive construction projects.
Olfa expresses, “What they deliver doesn’t necessarily correlate with an outcome of on time and on budget delivery. I realized that there is a niche in our industry if we can create a consulting company and a training and certification company that provides: one, it provides the education and certification on predictability and works packaging and good planning, basically, and project management.”
Olfa brought transformative shifts bringing a set of services driven by predictability and outcomes, providing a new intellectual property. It was essential for her with Concord® to drive innovation, a new IP, providing high-quality services. She shares, “When we work with an owner or a construction company, we’re saying, ‘I am your partner in helping you achieve that goal. I’m not going to let you go until we achieve that goal.’ That drives me. I realized nobody’s doing that in the industry. My vision for the company is to create the most valuable construction services consultant services company in the industry.”
The Stronger Roots
Concord® is on a mission to become the premier partner to the energy and industrial construction project companies to deliver predictability, with a vision that every client gets their project delivered on time and budget. Olfa describes that Concord® is driven by three key aspects and is the core of its culture: predictability, knowledge, and empowerment.
Predictability: Concord® believes the future belongs to capital project organizations that master predictable project delivery and predictable outcomes.
Knowledge: Valuing data-driven, fact-based decision-making practices supported by thoughtful, deliberate knowledge acquisition and management.
Empowerment: It believes that a capital project organization’s strongest asset is its people, and it invests in people.
Concord® is utilizing the best technology available in learning management systems, enabling professionals in the construction industry around the globe, provide access to its training with videos and test interacting with instructors at any time. With Concord Academy and the certification program on AWP, individuals receive the same quality knowledge and care universally.
Concord® makes the most out of the available solutions to build a strong network for its consultants, making it more flexible for the professionals updating with technological advancement.
Olfa mentions that the construction industry misses few marks and does not have space for intelligence, project management, and decision-making. She notes, “A lot of our data is manual, and it’s not collected automatically. Our industry doesn’t leverage technology very well, especially collaboration and non-engineering information. Concord® is working on solving that issue as a part of our most innovative projects that we’re looking to change with the industry in the next few years.”
Waving the Magic Wand!
Elaborating on the desired changes in the construction industry, Olfa shares, “If I had a magic wand, I would get the capital project stakeholders to operate collaboratively in a flat, technology-driven transparent environment.
Eliminate all of these layers of transactions and contracts and lack of interoperability that creates a lot of miscommunications, which ends up hindering predictability. Ultimately, that’s the vision. What we do through advanced work packaging and through predictability thinking™, what Concord® does is that we empower and help shape the stage-gate system and the project delivery system of these large projects, large construction companies as well, small and large so that they can streamline and monitor the risk and control the risk in a way that drives predictability.”
“Concord® believes that predictability is notjust a goal; it’s a behavior. The same way when you say, “We are a safe company, and safety is our goal.” But we are a safe company. We are safe in the way we execute our construction projects. We need to become predictable companies and predictable construction projects. So, it has to become a behavior. The behavior starts from the fact that everybody within the project team communicates transparently, in an integrated way, and then issues, when they arise, they’re not hidden. They are brought to the surface so that everybody including leadership resolves them on time. So, if I had a magic wand, I would have all projects operate in a common digital environment that flattens the collaboration makes it transparent and powered through artificial intelligence to help support decision making and close the knowledge and experience gap we struggle with in our industry. We could start developing intelligent project management and project decision-making,” explains Olfa.
Concord® is trying to change the industry, producing knowledge, communicating, and democratizing the projects among industry professionals. Olfa wants a hierarchy of a significant construction project company or a construction company, needing them to access knowledge easily, in a fast way, in a renewable way, and in a sustainable way.
Concord® is availing its project management certifications and AWP certifications, widely used by the major multibillion-dollar organizations, making it easy to adapt.
Olfa wants to certify 25,000 professionals by 2025 in advanced work packaging, her predictability program. She envisions that by 2025, Concord® would have a substantial impact worth 25$ billion worth of capital projects by providing the services.
Predicting the Future
Olfa aims to lead Concord® with quality, knowledge, innovation, integrity, high-quality services, predictable results, and empowerment as a trusted brand. She envisions Concorde KSA in Saudi Arabia. She notes, “We’re looking at Concord France, Concord KSA, Concord Netherlands, Concord South Korea, Concord South Africa. We’re working on transforming Concord into a global brand that can impact local construction markets in these major hubs of construction worldwide, of course. That’s my goal and vision for where I want the company to be. And maybe one of those days, we’ll see Concord go IPO.”
Concord® is on a solid path to becoming the most valuable capital project consulting and training brand in the world.
Sharing the Lessons
Olfa wishes to see the industry born with the fiber and DNA of the capital market. She advises aspiring entrepreneurs to go for it. “Take a chance. Our industry needs it. And we have a great large industry, and the market is big, so we need more of those companies,” Olfa concludes.