No doubt you’ve heard the old saw that ignorance of the law is no excuse. In project management, the same principle applies to the design, construction or expansion of your company’s facilities. What you don’t know could really jeopardize your project’s success, if not prematurely change your employment status.
There are several solutions. Here’s one:
First, start with some simple self-assessment. Setting aside phenomenal growth industries, most companies won’t attempt building new or expanding existing facilities more than once in the career of the average employee. This means there is no institutional knowledge or wise-sage that can guide the company through the complex, costly and risk laden process of engaging and managing design and construction professionals. This is an area where simple referrals won’t work.
Are you experienced enough to hire the experts you’re going to need for this project?
Architects, engineers and contractors come in many flavors. One thing all design and construction professionals have in common is that they’re experts, or at least seasoned veterans, at engaging with prospective clients while managing their exposure to risk and maintaining a fair profit. This is definitely not the same as saying that the above mentioned professionals have a win-lose mentality. That’s just not true. But shouldn’t the consumers of architectural and construction services be experts, too?
In other words, as the buyer of these servers, are you the expert you should be? And if you’re not, what are you putting at risk?
Do you have a solid, empirically based process for examining the capabilities and expertise of the design and construction professionals you’d like to hire? Too much is at stake to simply ask around for referrals. Relationship-based decisions are almost always correlated with poor results. To be successful, and to save money, you need a reliable, proven process that aligns the most efficient and capable professionals to the goals and objectives of your project.
I’m not referring to the various “delivery” methods like design-bid-build, design-build or CM at risk. I’m addressing the need for an evidence-based process for selection of the best fit design or construction team.
For example, this process should address:
- What can be expected to happen or be needed but is not included in the proposal?
- What other vendors are involved that the design or construction professional doesn’t have control over?
- What risks will be considered unforeseen or not determinable?
- How will these risks be identified – and mitigated?
Do this phase of your project correctly and, in my experience, you’ll save at least 15% of the costs of your entire project. Do it incorrectly and you could risk losing much more.
For best results, I suggest the following: hire a broadly experienced and highly qualified project manager before you hire anyone else. That’s right. A good project manager can help you find the best architects, engineers and contractors. He’ll choose based upon how good these experts are, how deeply experienced, and how good a fit they are for you and your company.
He’ll choose without the emotion attached to “referrals from friends.” He can help you through contract negotiations, examining not just the proposals but the contracts associated with them. He’ll help you avoid problems you didn’t know you had. He’ll push ahead even when you’re busy with other tasks. He’ll save you time. Most importantly, he’ll save you at least that 15% I mentioned above. And he could save you much more than that.
Let me leave you with this one last thought:
Success or failure hangs upon your ability to handle these first critical steps. It’s baked in. Your alignment with the right expert design and construction professionals is central to that first step. You can go it alone—and face enormous risk—or you can get someone on your team who has the proven ability to ensure that you’re partnered with the right A&E and construction team.
Want to know more or just want to sleep better? Call me.