015 Interview with Wake Technical Community College CIP Manager

TManningLast week I sat down with Todd Manning PE, CCM, PMP, PEM, LEED AP for lunch and to talk about project management. He supervises the facilities project managers in the design and construction department at Wake Tech Community College (WTCC). His group is currently managing over $200 million worth of projects on the multiple WTCC campuses. 

[Q] How does WTCC manage projects in each of the design and construction phases? Is there a project manager (PM) for the design phase that hands it over to a construction manager during the construction phase?

[A] At WTCC, our PMs manage both the design and construction of projects from the initial budgeting and scoping through design, and then construction. I feel that it is important that one person follows the project through so that during construction we can understand why certain decisions were made. Continuity is lost if the PM is not the same all the way through the project.

[Q] What project management tools does WTCC use to keep projects on schedule and on budget?

[A] We use a customized detailed project cost spreadsheet to track budgeted costs at the beginning of design, and then enter actual costs as design/construction contracts and other costs/purchases/amendments/change orders as they occur.

During design, for the schedule, we set key milestone date reminders on the calendar for tracking and follow up, as well as weekly (at a minimum) conversations and meetings with the designers, making sure schedule dates are still good.

During construction, we have regular weekly (sometimes twice weekly if a project is behind) site visits with a review of the schedule, and we provide input at weekly meetings as to any concerns as to where the schedule appears to stand

[Q] How many stakeholders does one of your projects typically have?

[A] Of course it depends on the project. We will have a stakeholder to represent each department in a building. Then we have our campus stakeholders: chief campus officer, business office, IT, facilities operations, and campus police.

[Q] Where can designers look to find out what jobs are coming up on campus?

[A] WTCC projects are listed on the NC Interactive Purchasing System website: https://www.ips.state.nc.us/ips/Default.aspx

And in newspaper advertisements.

[Q] What is one thing that consultants do that hinders the success of a project?

[A] During design a designer does not follow up with every end user, after programing, schematic design and design development phases to verify that their requests have been addressed. As you know, end users are not design and construction professionals so they cannot interpret the plans/sketches/specs to verify that it meets their needs and requests. Often they do not realize this until the building has been constructed. We are now requesting that our designers use 3D computer models to provide a virtual walk through of the space in effort to better communicate the end product.

During construction we often find that designers will compromise on the contract documents and allow the contractor too much leeway. They often do not insist that the contractor build the project per the drawings and in essence we don’t get exactly what we pay for.

[Q] What are two things that consultants do that can ensure the success of their project at WTCC?

[A]

  1. Make sure the owner is kept informed of any potential variances from the original needs and documents, so the owner can make informed decisions as to cost, time, delays vs costs, etc. We prefer that the designer come forward with an honest mistake early on so that we can brainstorm on a plan to move forward.
  2. Keep all documents, records, changes, meeting minutes, etc. timely and up to date.

You can find more out about Todd via LinkedIn: click here to go to his profile

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