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What is Critical in a Project Management System?

[fa icon="calendar'] May 30, 2017 9:36:34 AM / by John R. Manning, PE, CCM, LEED

This is the fourth post in our year-long series about the best ways to work with your Owner's Representative.  You can view all of the series posts here.

One of the key areas that require management on projects is the management of data. The larger the project the more data there is to manage. Projects have failed due to the lack of management of data.



Over the past two decades the industry has moved from the era of hard copies in filing cabinets to electronic processes. One reason for this shift was to aid in the management of the large amounts of data required on a project. In the 1980s and 1990s I worked on several multi-billion-dollar theme park projects. The management of data was primarily done with large areas of filing cabinets, plan rooms and libraries of information. There was so much data in hard copy form that, at times, information was forgotten and/or lost. This type of situation drove the development of computerized Project Management Systems. The focus for Project Management Systems was becoming the repository for information on a project that would allow an individual to easily search and find key data.

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A Project Management Plan is key to a successfully run project

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 21, 2017 8:39:04 AM / by John R. Manning, PE, CCM, LEED

This is the third post in our year-long series about the best ways to work with your Owner's Representative.  You can view all of the series posts here.

The Project Management Plan is the heart and soul of how the Owner’s Project Team will run the project.

This plan outlines key visions of the leader of the Owner’s Representative Team on how the project should be run. Not having a plan will cause starts and stops in a project as the collective team (Owner, Design Team and Contractor) wait until the Owner’s Representative puts in place the segments of this plan on the fly. Development of this plan will help put in writing the vision of the project, budget, schedule and processes necessary to achieve that vision.

The key elements of a Project Management Plan include at a minimum:

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What is the Proper Organization for Your Project?

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 28, 2017 9:09:07 AM / by John R. Manning, PE, CCM, LEED

This is the second post in our year-long series about the best ways to work with your Owner's Representative.  You can view all of the series posts here.

Logically the proper project organization will depend upon the size and complexity of the project. One thing that will never change is the need for there to be one key leader for the Owner on the project.

We noted in our first blog of 2017 one of the key findings of research into failed projects is, “Leadership from Owners needed to increase and there is a need for a strong Owner's representative’s presence.” Whether it is a single individual as the sole representative for the Owner of the project or he/she is the leader of a group of individuals representing the Owner of the project singularly or collectively they must be competent to lead the project from concept to completion. The Owner’s Representative(s) must have the ability, authority and responsibility to execute the requirements of the Owner on the project. This starts with a clear vision for what the finished project will be and the ability to detail that vision to all other stakeholders in the Project. This starts with the development of strong contracts for the Designer(s), Contractor(s) and any other entity necessary for the successful completion of the project.

Collectively the Owner’s Representative team needs have the skill set capable of taking a project from concept to completion, ensuring that the best interests of the Owner are maintained. This team may be totally in-house (employed by the Owner), totally out-sourced (contracted Owner’s Representative) or a mixture. On larger projects there could be multiple tiers of representatives each responsible for a different area of the project or for different scopes. It will be critical for the individual who is in charge of representing the Owner, overall on the project, to detail the job functions of the individuals assigned to the project regardless of which of the three scenarios detailed above are utilized.

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Broken Projects, Busted Budgets and Late Schedules - What is an Owner to do?

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 9, 2017 11:41:15 AM / by John R. Manning, PE, CCM, LEED


Research has shown that over the past 40 years manufacturing productivity has increased by over 200% while productivity in the construction industry has actually declined!

Statistics in the industry have indicated that 70% to 90% of projects exceed the originally planned costs with overruns commonly between 50% and 100% of the budget. The key player in the development and construction equation that really feels the brunt of this problem is the Owner. It is the Owner’s money on the line to fund the project while tasking others to design and build the project.

In 2007, Barry B. LePatner, a recognized construction lawyer, published the book "Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets - How to Fix America's Trillion-Dollar Construction Industry.” Mr. LePatner laid out the issues that plague the construction industry which produces $120 Billion in waste and inefficiency. Waste and inefficiency results in over-budget and late finishes on the majority of projects, however Mr. LePatner detailed a path forward on how to fix those issues.

In 2006 the Construction Users Roundtable AEC Productivity Subcommittee published four key recommendations on how to improve productivity on a construction project. One of the key recommendations was "Leadership from Owners needed to Increase.” This same suggestion was also laid out in Mr. LePatner’s book where he emphasized the need for a strong Owner's representative’s presence as an intermediary.

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Why Do You Need Good Project Procedures?

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 2, 2017 10:06:51 AM / by John R. Manning, PE, CCM, LEED


This is the fourth post in our year-long series about the best ways to work with your Owner's Representative. You can view all of the series posts here.

Good Project Procedures are critical for a well-run project. 

They help everyone on a project know the ground rules and processes needed to successfully work together as a team. It is critical that Owner’s Representatives take the lead in pulling a Procedure Manual together and detailing those processes to everyone on the project. 

A good Project Procedures Manual should address at a minimum:

1. Functional Responsibilities and Limits of Authority

The roles and responsibilities for all the key participants on a project must be detailed. If Contracts are in place the roles and responsibilities should adhere to those Contracts. As the old saying goes on problem projects –“Well the problem here is we have responsibility without authority.” It is critical that when someone is placed in a position of responsibility that they are granted the appropriate authority. The Procedure Manual should detail responsibilities by the level of authority. Flow charts work well with depicting levels of responsibilities and authorities.

2. Document Control

Projects have a large amount of documents. A procedure must be put in place on how to manage those documents. In the current world there are many forms of electronic document management systems out there. Most projects today do not keep the amount of paper files that were generated in the past. Cloud based systems are generally the most efficient way to go for a project to handle electronic documents however the processes need to be planned out. A detailed document control procedure should be put in place from the start, one that is thoroughly thought out. There are ways to manage, view and markup documents virtually from anywhere. The cost of these systems could be on the low end of using a cloud based filing system like Google Drive® and BOX® or a full blown PM system like Procore®. This document control process should detail any and all filing systems whether electronic or hard copy that all will adhere to on the project. If not, then time will be wasted searching for documents that should be easily found. This is one of the key reasons the computerized project management systems have been growing in the industry as they force teams to adhere to a process that allows for proper filing and ease of searching.

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Using Experts to Solve Log Jams in Construction Defect Settlements

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 17, 2016 9:23:15 AM / by Mark McGivern, CSI, Aff. M. ASCE

It is no secret that construction defect liability claims can become incredibly complicated. When something goes awry after tenants have moved in, the finger pointing game begins. Was it a design flaw or was something installed improperly? Did equipment fail or did the property manager improperly maintain it? Should the construction contractor have realized the engineers made a mistake?   When the stakes become large, which insurance company should be on the hook?

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California passes new laws following Berkeley tragedy

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 20, 2016 8:22:00 AM / by Adrienne K. Paskind, AIA

Berkeley took center stage in June 2015 when six students died tragically and another seven were injured after a balcony on which they were standing on collapsed.

As a result, the California Senate has passed a new law for the construction industry traced back to Berkeley balcony collapse. The bill was passed after a unanimous vote or 37-0 and is intended to close those accountability gaps by bringing stricter oversight to the construction industry.

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Getting a Grip on Document Management

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 16, 2015 9:00:00 AM / by Philip B. Terry, Sr. Vice President

Effective document management is critical to successful litigation.

Whether it is a highly complex case with hundreds of thousands of files and millions of pages or a quick trial with just a few hundred documents, attorneys need a manageable way to store, search, review and cull documents to tell the most powerful story.

There are plenty of document management systems on the market – the key is choosing the right system for each case. Some solutions, as powerful and stable as they may be, can be cumbersome, expensive and frankly just overkill, while simpler systems sometimes simply are not up to the job.

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Liability Limitations on the Construction Manager's Role

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 14, 2015 7:00:00 AM / by John R. Manning, PE, CCM, LEED

When considering the use of a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR), it is critical that an owner understands the limitations of liability that a CMAR has in regards to their design review services. As PretiFlaherty reported on September 3rd, the Massachusetts Supreme Court recently clarified the construction manager’s role.

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