016 Trivial Inconvenience: The Four Minute Stop

Please Note:  This post is not about project management.

wordpressThere are a few things that I loathe in life and one of them is to stop and put gas in my car. It’s trivial. I know. It only takes me four minutes, but I’m impatient and I like to go from point A to point B without stopping. On my way to work a few weeks ago, I was sitting at a red light. I looked over at the corner gas station and noticed that there was a man sitting in a wheelchair putting gas in his minivan. Of course it gave me pause. I thought about him the rest of the way to work. How does he get from his vehicle to the chair? What a pain – how long must it take him to get gas? I bet he is grumpier than I am when he has to stop and get gas. 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

014 Board of Governors October Project Approval List

IMG_2259The pre-meeting materials for the Board of Governors meeting last Friday are posted. Projects in the UNC system that are up for approval are listed. Look under Committee on Budget and Finance item 9.  Please note that all projects may not have been approved.

You might also be interested in the Item 3 – 2015 – 2016 Capital Improvements Allocations.

See blog post 005 Project Milestones & Marketing Strategies for how you might use this information.

Click here for Board of Governors website

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

012 Mechanical Engineering Terms for Dummies

012-post-mechanical-termsDo you think we should change out the VAV boxes?” Ray asked Chad.

Well, since the AHU is on its last leg, maybe we should spend the money there instead.”

Don’t forget, we need to keep the ACH the same,” piped in the Environmental Health and Safety guy.

I watched as the subject matter experts (SME) served mechanical engineering acronyms back and forth like a tennis ball at the French Open.  At some point, they all looked at me and I smiled knowingly and nodded but I really had no idea what they were talking about.

Since last fall, when this conversation occured, I’ve learned the mechanical engineering (ME) language just enough to carry on short conversations, but I still can’t speak it fluently. In this blog post, I’ll share my ME terms cheat sheet with you. Please note, after the definition of each term I’ve included a link to Wikipedia for more in-depth reading. 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

010 Board of Governors August Project Approval List

randomCheck out the pre-meeting materials for the Board of Governors meeting last Friday. Projects in the UNC system that are up for approval are listed. Look under Committee on Budget and Finance item 2.

See blog post 005 Project Milestones & Marketing Strategies for how you might use this information.

Click here for Board of Governors website

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