Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Build Process - Compare Job Progress to Job Plans - Part 4

Information collected from the site is reviewed and compared with the project plan to determine if the project is on time, the resources (both material and personnel) allocated were sufficient and of the right type, and the actual state of the project conforms to the schedule. Effectively comparing the project’s progress to the job plan enables you, as the customer, to bring the project manager’s attention to an area of the project most in need of attention.
Take Corrective Action
The corrective action necessary requires decisions to be made by the project manager and addresses questions that are technical in nature and relative to an actual issue that may be the cause of or result in a delay.  Your input may be required, time to time, to agree with a proposed solution to an unanticipated event.
Typically, this may be something as simple as where the tile can be stored indoors, an alternate location to keep a family pet, or setting aside an area in the yard to stage materials. Or you may find the discussion involves dealing with a cost overrun, material shortage or substitution.
Whatever the issue, your input will be required to help guide the project manager and it is necessary you, as the owner, agree to the proposed work arounds, or offer alternate solutions.  Unfortunately, you may find making these kinds of decisions bring you out of your comfort zone because you lack sufficient expertise and knowledge to know if your decision is the best one to make.
Whatever the case, deviations in the project plan must be noted.  Failure to note these issues and deal with them will result in a job that will end up behind schedule, over cost, and not conform to the contract documents.  The result of not taking corrective action is the equivalent of not monitoring the project at all.
Collect Historical Data
This involves collecting data about what has happened.  The type of information collected validates the work as the project progresses.  This requires measuring walls to validate they were built the required length, are the needed width, and placed in the correct location. Walls built in the wrong location happen more often than you may realize.  The same goes for lowered ceilings, bulkheads, and chases for mechanical elements such as ductwork and plumbing.
The drawings are your authoritative source of information indicating where the electrical, plumbing and HVAC rough-ins are to be placed, the sizes for openings for doors and windows, and show the tile installation patterns. Comparing the as-built conditions to the design requirements needs to be done as the work progresses in order to identify or pinpoint any deviations from the job plan.  Also, prior to any material being installed, the material needs to be inspected and validated to ensure they match those specified. A record of this inspection needs to be kept available along with any photographs taken.
The historical data collected serves two purposes: first, to serve as a basis for planning future jobs; and second, to serve as a thorough record of actual events in the event claims for non-performance arise.
The purpose and importance of describing the components of the Project Control Cycle was to help you understand what they are and the underlying concepts behind all the actions and steps used to properly control, monitor, report, and record the status of the project.
By understanding how the project is managed and monitored you are empowered to know if the project is doomed or can be saved. It’s not enough to understand how things are to be controlled, you also need more information describing when an activity is to take place, who will be doing what, how long it will take.  This information is contained in the Building Schedule.

The Build Process - Project Control Cycle Components - Part 3

The project control cycle applies just as readily to activities such as demolition, installation of  plumbing fixtures, floor and wall tile, and painting as it does to the suppliers who are providing the materials and products used to build your renovation. Your project’s success, and especially for a seemingly small one like a bathroom, needs to follow a Project Control Cycle  because one small deviation can have a significant impact on the progress of the work.
Here is a more detailed explanation for each of the Project Control Cycle components.

Set Initial Goals

The first task in the project cycle is to set goals for each of the activities. This step needs to be completed before the job is awarded to the contractor to do the work.  Many of the goals you are required to identify are the project pricing, materials selected, and the completion of the contract documents such as the detailed working drawings, scope of work and specifications.
The pricing allows you to arrive at an initial cost for the project. The working drawings, scope of work, and specifications identify who is going to do the work, where it’s going to be done, what materials are to be used, and how long the project will take. Simply put, the budget for the construction should not exceed the costs anticipated in the estimate nor can the time planned in a schedule exceed the number of days permitted.
Why? Under the terms of the contract, expectations for the budget and schedule are clearly disclosed.
It is important these initial goals are established and agreed to in writing before any work starts. Knowing what these goals are allows you to measure the project’s progress enabling you to address issues in a proactive rather than a reactive manner. So if your scope of work outlines a task needs to be completed in 1 day, and 3 days later the task is still not complete, the damage this delay causes to the project becomes extremely evident, especially if it’s the early stages, such as the site preparation activity.
Establish Job Plans
Establishing your project’s Job Plan is a three step process.  
First, the job is broken down into its composite parts or activities.  
The second step is to plan and optimize the activity for maximum efficiency.  For example, some of the activities may be Site Preparation, Demolition, Mechanical Rough-in, Framing, etc..
Lastly, with the activities identified, these are then strung together in a realistic order of work.  This order of work is converted into a diagram and calculations are applied to determine at what time and on what dates the activity should take place.  
The result is a plan you can use as a guide for all of those involved with building the job. The job plan is used to effectively cope with the inevitable changes that will occur.
Monitor Progress
Monitoring progress of the project is a two step process.  
The first part is carried out on the job site at regular intervals and involves monitoring the actual events occurring. This may happen once or twice a day, typically being at the beginning and half way through the day.  The purpose of this monitoring activity is to determine who is on site and/or confirm if the materials have arrived or are available for the work scheduled.
The information gathered from the monitoring activity is compared to the working drawings to confirm the work is being done to meet the design developed. The specifications are consulted to ensure the correct materials delivered are those purchased. Jobsite health and safety practices and standards are important, and the trades doing the work are observed to confirm they are meeting those standards.
The second step of the process is to monitor the schedule, or schedule monitoring as it’s called, and this is done on an activity by activity basis to measure if: the work starts on time, is performed within the time allocated, and is completed according to the schedule.  Schedule monitoring is done at all stages of construction, from set-up to the final cleaning. This includes the performance of all of the required inspections too.

The Build Process - Your Project and the Project Control Cycle - Part 2

To bring order to the seemingly chaotic world of construction, a formal method is used to control, monitor, evaluate, support decision making, and allow you to understand how well your project is progressing once it’s underway. Your contractor’s goal is to meet each of the objectives you define and outline in your construction contract and those objectives are to:
  • Establish a realistic schedule
  • Work within a realistic budget
  • Identify resources/materials used
  • Define the project’s outcome
To manage a project such as a bathroom renovation, the method used to do all of this is called the Project Management Cycle. Basically, it’s a term used to identify the project’s performance criteria, allowing you to control and monitor the progress of the job.  Using a Project Management Cycle enables your contractor to establish short term goals and you to determine if these goals are being met.  
If project goals are not being met, the Project Management Cycle will show you how successful or unsuccessful your project is so action can be taken to get everything back on track, fast, or keep on making steady progress.
To do this, the Project Control Cycle allows you understand the who, what, when and how of your project to:
  • Control material and personnel resources
  • Organize trades
  • Direct activities
  • Decide on the use of resources and individuals
  • Control and direct trades toward a goal
  • Define a formal decision making process to achieve specific goals
You need to be able to understand how this is being accomplished because your project has the following characteristics:
  • It’s fractured
  • There a large number of disconnected people involved (craftsmen, subcontractors, suppliers, designers, and you, the owner)
  • Suppliers and installers need to be coordinated
  • A small mistake or oversight can have huge implications later on in the project
  • Everyone has an opinion
  • Decisions have to take into account the requirements, opinions, and attitudes of all those involved
  • The customer is rarely right (because of their limited experience and practical knowledge)
Here, in a nutshell, are the major steps used to ensure every activity performed for your project is successful.  Each project requires your manager to:
  • Set initial goals
  • Establish job plans
  • Monitor progress on work done
  • Compare progress to job plans
  • Look for deviations in the work
  • Take corrective action
  • Collect historical data
Now let’s take a more in-depth look at what this all means to you and how you will be able to determine the effectiveness of the manager in charge of your project.

The Build Process - An Introduction - Part 1

The Build Process for your project requires you to prepare the space where the work will be done, select and then coordinate the delivery of your materials, and hire the trades necessary to do the work required.  If you’ve done all this, you are now ready for the Build Process for your project.  

When you were planning your renovation, selecting the materials, and working to prepare the construction documentation such as specifications and scope of work, it may have taken you well out of your comfort zone.  Completing all of those tasks requires a great deal of time, patience, and perseverance on your part. Now you need to ensure all that time and effort you’ve invested into your planning and design phase is actually used to build your project. To do this, a process or system is used to manage the build.
To ensure your project is a success, process management tools are used. The more you understand about the build process and how it’s managed, the more it makes sense for you to understand how your project is controlled and the activities and resources are managed. This knowledge equips you with the means to measure and evaluate the progress of the project on a day to day basis, along with the performance of the contractor you’ve hired to do the work.
A fundamental building block of the process used to manage, monitor, and control your project is the Project Control Cycle.  Every activity starts and ends with this cycle. What you need to understand is the project is made up of a number of smaller individual projects or activities and each of these smaller activities is managed by the Project Control Cycle. The success of your renovation depends on how well the Project Control Cycle is applied to these activities.
As the owner of the project, you are a stakeholder and whoever you hire someone to do the work for you, shares the responsibility with you to ensure the work is done to conform to the specifications and scope of work.
Although some of the trades such as the plumber, HVAC, and electricians may need to be certified, the person running your project does not need to be. Nor are they required to be either. So despite all the time and effort you spent with other certified and accredited building professionals and/or suppliers, to help you design and develop your project, there are no guarantees your project will be managed well, or at all.
To protect your project and the investment you are making, you need to monitor the project and measure its outcome to be sure you are receiving the services you paid for.
So how do you do that?
The Project Control Cycle is the key you use to be assured what you have created will be delivered.