Moderator: Kip Edwards, Banner Health
Panelists: Tom Gormley, URS;
Robert Luster, Liberty Tree Enterprises
The two keys to successful project management are communication and budget planning. Unfortunately, both of these factors are easier said than done.
There may be dozens of people involved in implementing a project, explained Tom Gormley, vice president of healthcare services for URS. Under the owner, architect and contractor, lies a complex network of supervisors, subordinates and subcontracted laborers. Altogether, it's a complicated communication system.
Gormley suggested using organizational charts to manage the chaos. That way everyone knows whom they answer to and what decisions they have the authority to make on their own. “Defining who can do what,” Gormley said, “is really critical.”
Robert Luster, senior vice president of Liberty Tree Enterprises, agrees. “It's everybody's responsibility to identify what the project objective is and what the supporting goals are,” he said.
Luster stressed the importance of securing buy-in with essential third parties. “You need to understand what those outside entities who are opposed to you are wanting, and how their issues can be incorporated into the overall development plan,” he said.
Give your contrarians a voice early on. Luster recommended creating a forum that gives participants a platform to be heard without delaying the project. Letting them make their opinions known will give them a sense of participation, even if their ideas don't make it past the cutting room floor.
Another point that will make or break a project is planning the budget. There are many reasons why projects go over budget. But one of the biggest issues today, Gormley pointed out, “is failure to address escalation.” To handle rising escalation, analyze local markets and follow national and international trends.
Kip Edwards, system vice president of design and construction at Banner Health, believes that the best way to stay within budget is to create a detailed and comprehensive project cost forecast.
Effectively forecasting a budget requires breaking down your total budget into specific line items, and adjusting continuously as the project progresses. “You'll see some things come in lower [in cost than expected], some higher,” Edwards said, “and you just keep adjusting.” That way you'll avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Successful budget planning depends on successful communication. Edwards suggested gathering the project team together for regular meetings to make sure that the budget forecast continues to be accurate all potential issues are being accounted for.
“No project is built on a straight line,” Luster added. “There are too many things involved. If you just make minor adjustments [along the way], you'll be able to keep the cost down and you'll be able to sleep better at night.”
- Ashleigh Frank