Conducting an early warning forecast to detect potential cost overrun is essential for timely and effective decision-making in project control. This paper presents a forecast combination model that adaptively identifies the best forecast and optimises various combinations of commonly used project cost forecasting models. To do so, a forecast error simulator is formulated to visualise and quantify likely error profiles of forecast models and their combinations. The adaptive cost combination (ACC) model was applied to a pilot project for numerical illustration as well as to real world projects for practical implementation. The results provide three valuable insights into more effective project control and forecasting. First, the best forecasting model may change in individual projects according to the project progress and the management priority (i.e. accuracy, outperformance or large errors). Second, adaptive combination of simple, index-based forecasts tends to improve forecast accuracy, while mitigating the risk of large errors. Third, a post-mortem analysis of seven real projects indicated that the simple average of two most commonly used cost forecasts can be 31.2% more accurate, on average, than the most accurate alternative forecasts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Science Applications
- Strategy and Management
- Management Science and Operations Research
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering