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Understanding all the different moving parts of project planning can help facilitate a more streamlined experience for process, from beginning to end. Below, we discuss the different stages and how to best track the progress.
Scope is the very first thing we need to know when starting any project. We not only need to know the final deliverables, but we need to actually understand the details of that goal. A clearly defined scope of work is essential if we are to deliver a successful project. This success means that we meet or exceed the client’s expectations.
The project schedule is another critical component of a successful project plan. We cannot meet the goals of a project without a knowledge of the required incremental milestones. The structure of this schedule can vary depending upon actual project specifics. Here is a potential typical sample:
1. Request for a proposal (RFP)
2. Signed contract
3. Kickoff meetings
a. External kickoff meeting
b. Internal kickoff meeting
4. Receive the model and other project information
a. Site utilities
b. Structural drawings (This will usually not be completely developed before we start)
c. Existing drawings and calculations if retrofit
5. Charette (optional)
6. Scope development (SD)
a. Preliminary budget
8. Design development (DD)
9. 50 percent CD: Progress toward construction documents
11. Permit (IFP)
12. 100 percent CD: construction documents
Again, this can vary. We may have additional milestones, and we may have less. Not every project requires all these steps. Some projects require more, due to their complexity or other parameters. Some clients have their own standards and require specific document issuances. This must be determined by the project manager (PM) during the very beginning of the process. It is important to meet these benchmarks, but we should not exceed the deliverable requirements for each issuance. When we exceed the predetermined level of completion, we endanger the success of the project in two ways:
The first item in this list is more likely than the second, but our desire to impress the client may be detrimental to the project. It may adversely affect our bottom line. Our goal should be not only to deliver a perfect project, but also to make some profit, so that we can stay in business to create more successful projects.
Milestones should be clearly defined. We have a general understanding of the typical criteria. This typically will include identifying and indicating the following:
a. Discuss the general design concepts and
strategies with your technical director (TD).
b. Identify the relative authorities having
jurisdiction (AHJ) and codes.
c. We need a flow test and all site utility
d. We need a geotechnical report.
e. Incoming service
i. Size, location, elevation
ii. Main flow diagram
f. Outgoing services
i. Size, location, elevation
g. Major equipment
i. Capacity, location
ii. Room sizes required
iii. Other required information needed for
preliminary coordination with all trades
h. Main piping, duct and conduit runs
i. Does the existing site and infrastructure
support the constructability of the project?
j. Drawing list
k. Specifications list
l. Cursory internal review (IR) with the TD of each discipline, prior to issuance, just to verify that our plan is feasible and meets the client’s expectations.
a. Regroup based on SD discoveries and
b. Develop the design and coordinate.
i. Does it work?
ii. Does everything fit?
c. We do not need to have all the details
worked out, but we need to know if our
equipment, piping, ductwork, conduits,
etc., fit into the structure.
d. Locate all stacks, risers, FSPs.
e. Check and update all calculations.
f. Update other trades as required.
a. This is the guaranteed maximum price
b. It is important to be able to anticipate whether
the project can be completed within the project
c. Every part of the project that adds to the total
cost, needs to be identified within the documents.
d. The GMP may be required at varying points
of the project development. We need to make
sure that we have a clear understanding of the
a. Everything that will be subject to the review of
the AHJ needs to be included.
b. Riser diagrams
c. Equipment schedules
d. Fixture schedules
e. Rough-in schedule
a. Cross reviews (XR) need to take place at 50
i. All trades meet to review coordination items.
ii. Communication should have been
happening during the design process.
b. 100 percent CDs must be fully coordinated.
i. Changes made at this point may be subject
to change orders and this has a negative on the
ii. Do not create change orders!
This budget is our internal project budget, not the project construction budget. The primary responsibility for monitoring the internal budget, should fall under the responsibilities of the PM, but we all should be aware of the status and impact that we have on the budget. All team members should inform the PM when we anticipate that client demands may be exceeding our defined scope of work and contract parameters. It is up to the PM to determine if we go forward with changes and when we need to negotiate for added fees to provide additional services. We need to monitor the fee and hours available as we follow our progress of the design stages.
Project requirements vary. We need to understand the specific project financials, so that we can gauge how much detail is required to meet our deliverable commitments and responsibilities while keeping the project profitable. We can adapt our final product goals to align with the fees. Profitability is essential to our organization; we are not a government agency with infinite funding. We have bills to pay so that we can continue to have the opportunity to provide our services to clients that need those services, while we also have the pleasure of solving design issues. That is what we do as engineers. We solve complex problems that clients do not know that they have, in ways that they do not understand.