Lessons Learned #33: Getting Back To Basics

With the start of a new year, it’s normal for us to reflect on the year just ended.  That usually involves thinking about those things that turned out well for us, and those that didn’t.  While it’s in our nature to dwell on the good, it’s been my experience that we’re apt to learn much more from our difficulties, or failures, than from those circumstances that turned out well.  I’ve noted that many of our problems begin when we fail to execute on the basics for our work.

With that in mind, when I started thinking about what I should write for this first issue of 2017, I decided to offer you my suggested outline of what to do and what to avoid during each of the key steps from bidding through mobilization of a project.  As you go through this list, think about how you could have done a better job at each of the steps, and how that may have prevented some of the problems you had to struggle with last year.

  1. Estimating work:
    • Be thorough, include all work
    • Adjust labor units to factor conditions that may affect the difficulty of the installation (height, access, restrictions, weather, overtime needed)
  2. Contract negotiations:
    • Get all the documents included in contract
    • Review (have lawyer advise)
    • Negotiate main clauses (payment for extra work, directives, sequencing of work, delays)
    • Don’t start substantial work before contract, without agreement for payment
  3. Schedule:
    • Review your portion of the work within the overall schedule, make sure it’s realistic
    • Make certain your work is represented properly (activities, duration, logic)
    • Propose changes to make corrections, or to fit your needs
  4. Turnover from Estimating to Construction:
    • Review scope (specifications, alternates, submittal requirements, special long-lead material or equipment)
    • Review schedule (identify key predecessor activities for tracking)
    • Identify key resources needed (project management and supervision, available labor, equipment, special tools)
    • Prepare schedule of values, set up job cost and tracking for job
    • Review budget and cash flow projection
    • Final contract review

While this outline is by no means comprehensive, it should cover the essential elements of the process that takes a project from the bid stage to the field.  By taking the time to reflect on problems you experienced last year, identifying the areas where you need to improve upon, and adjusting your procedures to ensure you don’t repeat the mistakes made in the past, you will be on your way to start this new year on the right track.

Want more help to improve your company’s procedures, or to provide additional training for your staff?  Make it a New Year’s resolution to schedule some educational seminars for your project management team.  Visit my website for more information, or call me to discuss how we can customize the training to fit your needs.

E-Book version now available!

Good news for those of you who have waited to purchase a copy of my book “Document to Reduce Risk”. The e-book version is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble (only $24.99). This format gives you immediate access to valuable advice with all of the sample documents you can use to write about issues on your projects (available for download through links from the e-book directly to your smart phone, tablet, or computer).  With a copy of this resource, you will carry with you the tools you need to stay ahead of the game with good documentation to reduce your risk!

Thank you for your continued interest in my publications. I sincerely hope that you and your families had a loving, peaceful holiday season.  Nancy and I had our children and grandchildren visiting during the period from Thanksgiving through Christmas.  We also were hosts to Nancy’s mother and siblings who came from all over the country to attend the wedding of one of Nancy’s daughters.  It was joyful, playful, and very hectic at our home during the entire time.  We were reminded once again of how truly blessed we are!   – Paco Farach

“You can’t change the world if you don’t know the basics.” – unknown

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