A Key Planning Resource

Industrial Megaprojects by Edward W. Merrow (Merrow, 2011)

This post is the fifth in a series of discussions regarding challenges in project planning and management situations.  In this series, we focus heavily on program / project planning and management.  This post addresses a major resource that can be highly useful in the planning and initial management of large and complex projects.

This resource is Industrial Megaprojects by Edward W. Merrow.   The subtitle is Concepts, Strategies, and Practices for Success.  This subtitle is particularly appropriate and compelling.

While the title is focused on “megaprojects,” the advice and guidance has value and merit in considering the planning and management of large and complex projects.  Smaller projects may be better guided by previous Project Professionals discussions.  Some of the key discussions are summarized in the previous post, PROJECT PLANNING (Part 4) Summary of Posts.

As presented on the dust cover of this fine book, “Mr. Merrow is the founder and CEO of Independent Project Analysis, Inc. (IPA), the world’s leading consulting firm evaluating billion-dollar megaprojects of national and international oil, chemical, pharmaceutical, and major mineral companies, and benchmarking their cost, schedules, safety, startup, and operational performance.”

While this lofty description can be both impressive and intimidating, the book has a wealth of information regarding project planning and initial execution.

In this book, Mr. Merrow organizes his work into three Parts.

   Part One Understanding the Projects

   Part Two Making the Right Business Decisions Before You Commit

   Part Three Making the Right Project Decisions


The value relative to Project Planning is in Part Three Making the Right Project Decisions.  This Part contains seven Chapters and two discussed are noted below:

Chapter 9 Organizing Megaproject Teams is a crucial planning and management tool.  Team formation and alignment are common issues in the success or poor performance of projects.  The origins of many of these failures can found in inadequate project planning or inadequate implementation of the Project Execution Plan.

Chapter 11 Contracting contains some very compelling and important advice.  Mr. Merrow’s discussion is organized as follows:

Contracting Approaches – a discussion of the four basic types of contracting.

The Central Issues in Contracting Strategy – factors that influence selection of a contracting strategy

What Drives Success and Failure in EPC Lump-Sum Contracting? – risks associated with using lump-sum (also known as fixed price) contracting                for Engineering Procurement and Construction.

Reimbursable Contracts Are for Higher-Risk Projects – factors regarding the use of reimbursable EPC and EPCm (Engineer, Procure, and Construction Manage) contracts.

Why Megaproject Alliances Fail – problematic features.

Why Mixed Contracting Succeeds – discussion of this favored approach

The Use of a Project Managing Contractor (PMC) – discussion of the reasons for not favoring this approach.

Owners and Contractors Live in Different Worlds – unique perspectives of owners and contractors regarding risk and other key issues.


Project planning should include a thoughtful review of Part Three Making the Right Project Decisions of Mr. Merrow’s fine work.

Independent Project Analysis, or IPA, information can be found at .

Professional project management requires a successful project planning process.  Lacking that, problems are sure to emerge.  This book is a valuable resource for planning of large and complex projects.  Happy reading and good luck in your project planning challenges and endeavors…

McLaughlin and McLaughlin has provided Project Planning services for decades.  The summary of M&M project planning services is at the M&M website, and the specific page is project planning.

It is important to note that McLaughlin and McLaughlin [M&M] is not a law firm and is not intending to provide legal advice.  M&M is a consulting firm providing (among other services) non-legal expertise in dispute resolution and litigation support.  The Resource Center is for the convenience of blog visitors and M&M does not offer this for commercial purposes.  For further information on M&M services, please see


Works Cited

Merrow, E. W. (2011). Industrial Megaprojects. Hoboken: Wiley & Sons, Inc.