Organizations’ rules and regulations have a way of working against the best interests of getting facilities projects implemented quickly and efficiently, all the while, management is pushing to get the project done yesterday. Speed in project delivery requires flexibility on the part of any organization’s procurement process. This article outlines several best practices, by project phase, that work and ultimately, can save the organization money. All it takes is some flexibility in an organization’s rules and regulations.
Have your qualified team members in place through term agreements. Billing rates, standard services rate schedules, negotiated terms and conditions, insurance certificates submitted, and dedicated project team members identified should all be in place before the need to implement a project. Identify how minor and major decisions will be made and the dollar value of authorizations for project managers.
Programming & Space Planning:
Pin down your space standards, furniture standards, and finish standards prior to starting a new project. Have up-to-date organizational charts generated for each department to include future hire slots. Make sure that there is an approved method of identifying which staff get what space and furniture standard. Of course, there will always be exceptions based on special circumstances.
Incremental Project Budgeting:
Get authorization from your procurement department to allow project budget pricing based on schematic A&E drawings from 1 to 3 pre-authorized general contractors. Let procurement know that all the general contractors providing budget pricing should be allowed to bid on the final set of construction documents. This way, the general contractors providing the budget pricing do not have an unfair advantage.
Fast-Tracking the Project:
Make sure your project team members have a track record of working well together. The architect and MEP engineers should be able to fast-track their design and drawings by overlapping their design and production schedules. Frequent communication is key for successful fast-tracking between the architect, engineers and general contractor.
Have your procurement department allow a pre-qualified general contractor to be hired early in the project schedule through a negotiated bid. This way, as the architects and engineers are developing their specifications, the general contractor can be checking on product/equipment costs and lead time as well as aiding the A&E team regarding construct-ability issues. Pre-negotiate the general contractor’s overhead and profit percentages, terms and conditions, insurance requirements, and unit prices for any items that might be part of a future change order.
Pre-constructed components that are fabricated off-site and installed quickly on site can save time in the overall construction schedule. One example would be demountable partitions which are fabricated off-site and installed after the ceiling system and finished floor are installed. This reduces the construction schedule by eliminating the time required by the stud and drywall and eliminates painting most walls. This option makes the most sense for those organizations that have a high staff change and churn rate since demountable partitions are more expensive than stick-built partitions. The ability to modify the configuration of demountable walls in a dynamic environment avoids the disruption of messy demolition and new wall construction. Ultimately, this option pays for itself after several re-configurations. For-profit companies may also benefit from accelerated depreciation for purchasing demountable wall products, similar to furniture depreciation schedules.
The Permit Process:
Most jurisdictions have a method of fast-tracking the permit process. It may depend on the size of the project, such as small projects allowed as a “walk-thru” permit, or Peer Review, where, for a hefty fee, you can have your A&E team meet with a peer review team to review and comment on the A&E drawings, make the drawing revisions, and get a speedy approval from the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have an “Overtime Permit” approval process. Have your architect check with a permit expediter that specializes in your jurisdiction to get their suggestions, as well as budget costs for their service and the formula for determining permit costs.
Fast-tracking a project schedule requires that the procurement process remain flexible and that the benefit of initial costs be viewed for their long-term cost benefits through controlling costs, shortening the project duration and future flexibility for making quick modifications as change is required.
Take the Fast-Track Test:
1. What is most important to your management when it comes to facilities projects?
a. _____Saving Time (then consider the above suggestions)
b. _____Saving Money (then stay with your existing procurement methods if they are saving you money in the initial contract phase-though long-term savings may not be realized)
2. Are costs for your organization’s projects considered for their initial costs or long-term cost impact?
a. _____ Initial costs are more important than long-term cost savings (then stay with your existing procurement methods if they are saving you money in the initial contract phase- though long-term savings may not be realized)
b. _____ Long term cost savings and future flexibility are legitimate reasons to argue for changing the rules of procurement and purchasing (then consider the above suggestions)