025 The Designer Interview: Bond Project Post #4

post-25The night before the designer interviews I couldn’t sleep. I had put myself in the designer’s shoes and couldn’t shake them off. Years ago, when I was a structural engineer on the design team, I remember the desperate feeling of “we’ve got to win.” The reason was pretty simple; we needed the revenue.

At some point, I was able to take the designer’s shoes off and envision the next day. Tomorrow I would spend the day being part traffic cop, part mom, and part detective. Acting as a traffic cop, I would welcome teams to the interview room and then politely kick them out at the end of their allotted time. During the interview I would focus on the presenter, silently encouraging them to do their best, and listen for clues as to why their team is the right team for the job while writing down constructive criticism for their debrief.  At the same time, I’d glance at the key client stakeholders to see if they were connecting with the presenter. It made me tired thinking about it. I would have to be “on” all day; right now I needed to get some rest. Continue reading

024 The Designer Shortlist: Bond Project Post #3

post24Happy New Year everyone! I’m starting the year 2017 off describing the process that we used for shortlisting designers for the bond project. On all projects we typically receive 10 – 20 submittal packages from interested designers. Since we cannot interview all the teams that submit, we will shortlist up to six teams. Below I will describe the shortlisting process that we went through to determine which designers to interview on the bond project. Continue reading

020 Interview with NIH Branch Chief

SHThis week I’m pleased to share my interview with Stephanie Hixson, PE, LEED AP with you.  She is a Branch Chief for the Laboratory Branch in the Division of Design and Construction within the Office of Research Facilities at the National Institutes of Health [NIH] in Bethesda, MD. She supervises a group of project officers that focus on the design and construction of laboratories and research facilities.

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

[A] We have internal systems for tracking project budgets and tracking our schedules primarily with Microsoft Project for the smaller projects and Primavera for the larger projects as well as for master scheduling (all active projects). Continue reading

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? Continue reading

013 Meeting Minutes for Ninjas

meeting-minutes“Okay to summarize, we haven’t made a decision yet and we expect to revisit this same conversation the next time we meet,” said Joan.

“That sounds about right. And the next time we meet, we’ll forget the progress that we made in this meeting and we’ll rehash and start from the beginning again,” Alex replied scribbling on the paper in front of him.

“And no action will be taken,” Tim sighed as he looked to see what Alex was writing.

“That doesn’t sound very efficient,” Alex said as he looked up from his doodle of a pyramid of spheres.

“Well it would help if we wrote down the meeting minutes,” Steph said pointedly. Continue reading

011 Three Reasons Why Owners Should Provide a Stakeholder Register at the Project Kickoff Meeting

stakeholderI learned two lessons this week that are unrelated. I learned that there truly are unforeseen conditions. As part of a bigger project, we were moving a HIV research team out of a building that we are renovating. We learned in the 10th hour that the space we were going to move them into was unacceptable because it contained remnant HIV DNA. The remnant DNA is harmless, but it will compromise their research. No one saw that one coming.

The second lesson is related to the topic that I’ll discuss this week, which is the benefit of using a stakeholder register. I learned that it is never too early to issue one to your team. We recently kicked off a  feasibility study for a renovation project. Without including me in the loop, a consultant emailed various campus personnel that aren’t related to our project for information about the project. The people he contacted couldn’t help him, but obviously he didn’t know that. If I had provided a stakeholder register to my team earlier, he would have known whom to contact and we could have saved time and aggravation. This blog post will discuss stakeholder registers and the benefits of using them. Continue reading

009 How Many People Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?

Q: How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? A: More than one when you have to erect scaffolding to do it.

“He may have won the battle, but I won the war,” she said with the click of her ink pen.

I laughed. “What happened?”

As a construction manager, she had just met with a subcontractor to install a small access panel in the soffit of a campus building. She attempted to have it installed while the building was under construction, but the architect had determined that it wasn’t suitable for aesthetic reasons. The architect provided an access panel, but it was too large and unwieldy. Knowing that a maintenance worker would frequently access a piece of equipment behind the panel, she thought it made more sense to provide a smaller access door within the larger panel.

She is aware of what designers often forget, the day-to-day operation and maintenance of campus facilities. Architects and engineers romance our buildings for a little while, but facilities and operations are married to them for life (and have to wine and dine them and keep them looking nice on a limited budget). In this blog post, I will discuss a few operating and maintenance items that designers should consider when designing campus buildings. Continue reading

008 Interview with Corporate CIP Project Manager

Untitled-1Kent Mitchell is a registered architect and project management professional with over 28 years of experience in the design and construction industry. He has worked in both the public and private sectors and is currently a business lead and senior project manager of capital projects for Syngenta.

[Q] On your latest project, how many stakeholders do you have?

[A] I have a lab project in design phase that I have +/-50 stakeholders.

[Q] What is Syngenta’s process for hiring consultants?

[A] Our procurement business partners issue Requests For Proposal to pre-qualified AE teams.  We would generally short-list the firms and invite 2 or 3 firms to interview.  The Syngenta selection committee might consist of 6 or more cross-functional decision makers who vote on the firms.  The selection is based on multiple criteria, not just low bid.  Continue reading

007 Stakeholders- A Resource or a Constraint?

Given and Find

menilScott, Julie, and I looked at our next homework problem, in the grey study room of the Engineering Sciences Building. The problem: “The velocity of a particle undergoing rectilinear motion is v(t)=3t2+10t m/s. Find the acceleration and the displacement at t=10 s, if so= 0 at t=0.” It was 1990, and we were in Engineering 101. As studious freshmen, we focused on the task at hand, as we had been taught, we wrote down Given, left a large empty space and then wrote Find. Under Given, we wrote down our parameters (Newton’s laws of motion) for helping us to solve this problem: acceleration is the derivative of velocity over time, and the integral of velocity with respect to time is displacement. Voila, we solved for the answer and finished our homework so we could go get a drink…of Pepsi, we were under 21.

Working with Constraints

Unlike Newton’s laws of motion, the stakeholders and the guidelines that serve as design parameters (givens) for campus projects are not as straight-forward. And, as you can imagine, Continue reading