Projects fail at the beginning, not the end!


Tian Claassens is an independent consultant advising clients on strategic and risk issues in the identification, development and finance of large-scale (infrastructure) projects with specific emphasis on the municipal sector (i.e. social infrastructure). Tian’s key areas of expertise and focus includes ~

  • Service delivery and development strategy
  • Project identification and preparation
  • Integrated development and planning of infrastructure
  • Financing of infrastructure projects
  • Risk modelling and quantification for infrastructure projects
  • Quantitative analysis of spatial development and demand for services
  • Stochastic modelling
  • Municipal turnaround strategies
  • Financial structuring and modelling


My key lessons learnt on project preparation

Projects fail at the beginning, not the end!  Whether you are in the private sector or the public sector, a sound project preparation strategy that identifies the key risk milestones to achieve against a rigid project preparation budget is essential to start your infrastructure project off on the right track.  Here are some key guidelines:

  • Avoid spending money on non-essential items (such as detailed engineering) too soon
  • Make sure you get bang for your bucks from a risk mitigation perspective – every investment must yield the required/envisaged risk mitigation by achieving pre-set milestone(s)
  • On large-scale infrastructure projects identify and understand the critical sub-projects which should be prepared or developed separately but in parallel to the main project
  • Understand the institutional environment and mitigate institutional risk(s) as soon as possible – this is best done by formulating an appropriate institutional implementation model/framework for each sub-project
  • Obtain sufficient buy-in and commitment to each sub-project’s institutional implementation framework before proceeding with significant project development
  • Formulate an appropriate funding strategy for each sub-project and understand the likely appetite of potential funders as well as their sensitivity to (risk) linkages between the sub-projects
  • Always be ready to walk away rather than investing more money if the required risk mitigation is not achieved



Current and recent appointments

Klydon Gas (Pty) Ltd

Appointed as strategic consultant to assist the company in the commercialisation of its ASP technology.

Development Bank of Southern Africa Ltd

Appointed to conduct a scoping investigation for the City of Tshwane to serve as the basis for an application for funding under DBSA’s water conservation, demand management and cost recovery financing programme.

Development Bank of Southern Africa Ltd

Specialist Consultant to the Development Bank of Southern Africa Ltd with specific focus on development of suitable financing products aimed at the municipal sector.  Current focus areas include:

  • Financing of large-scale water demand management, water conservation and cost recovery programmes based on a hybrid financing model
  • Project finance mechanism for municipal water bulk –, distribution – and reticulation infrastructure
  • Financing mechanism for provincial road and transport related projects based on the principle of Output Performance Contracts


Ncandu Water (Pty) Ltd

Transaction advisor for Ncandu Water (Pty) Ltd on the development, implementation and finance of the Ncandu Dam water supply scheme for the Newcastle Local Municipality. 

tian.claassens@gmail.com © Tian Claassens 2015