Does Your PM Really Have Your Best Interests at Heart? – Part 4: Added Value

May 19th, 2015 by Blake Jehle No comments »

Added Value

I hope that the points posted so far have provided a beneficial perspective on what to look for when hiring and evaluating your current project management firm.   These values and skill sets should be a standard part of basic services, so it is important to thoroughly research what you, the Owner, are actively seeking.  However, there is one area that does not necessarily have a fixed price and is also difficult to calculate.  This is the area of added value…………or the extra benefit that your project manager brings to your project that does not have a separate cost line on your invoice.

But how do you define added value?   Every Owner will have different convictions, but if your PM is truly looking out for your firm’s best interests, then they will have knowledge outside of their immediate area of responsibility.  Have they made attempts to understand how your business operates so that the project has a limited impact to the day-to-day business?  As the project moves towards completion, they should offer solutions and suggestions that not only benefits the project, but also is an added benefit to your firm.   Does your PM interact with other departments and other leaders?  Do they communicate ideas and suggestions in areas of the project that might be lacking attention from your internal groups?  Do they ask you questions to get you thinking about other areas of the project that perhaps you have overlooked?  Are they responding to your immediate needs and forecasting future concerns?  Your PM should be your project PARTNER as well as your firm’s partner and have a vested and genuine concern about the success and failure of the project.  Basically, providing you exceptional service when and where you least expect it (or when and where you never see it) is an authentic sign of added value.    

Respect

At the end of the day, only you, the Owner can state whether or not your PM has provided any added value to their fee and services.  If your preferred firm has a reputation of extensive add-services, this might be a sign that they perceive any extra benefit to only be defined by dollar signs.  When the contract was signed, did you review the fine print?  Does their contract allow for you to terminate them at any time of the project without any additional fees?  Some project management firms have a clause that compels you to pay them the remaining term of the contract even if you choose to dismiss them from your project (even if you believe that their service is sub-par).  Is that type of clause in your project’s best interest and is this representative of added value?

Hiring a PM firm is a supplemental cost to any project, but one that has the potential to have remarkable positive impacts on your project’s success (and damaging impacts if the wrong PM is chosen).  Although the normal method of thinking is to cut costs early, sometimes these additional costs can be a benefit and actually save you money, time, and your project (you have to be smart where to apply your capital dollars).  Remember, in most cases you are hiring a project management firm to handle an area where you either have no expertise, or do not have the man-power to effectively lead a project.  Sure these costs might appear to be outside of your budget if they were never accounted for early on, but consider your situation and consult with your team on the overall impact that this will have on your firms project (i.e. investment)  Whether you’re hiring a new PM or are reviewing an ongoing contract, all of the issues reviewed in this 4 part series should be addressed and discussed to insure that you’re getting the most out of your capital dollars and out of your PM.

 

Does Your PM Have Your Best Interests at Heart? – Part 3: Budget, Schedule, and Honest Feedback

March 24th, 2015 by Blake Jehle No comments »

In Part 1 and Part 2, we have reviewed some important aspects that you, the Owner, should expect from your project manager on your project. The professionalism, their collaborative ability, their organizational skills, and your PM’s ability to foster a positive team environment are essential to your project’s success. But, alongside these are the meat and potatoes of your project that define success…….your budget, your schedule, and honest feedback.

Jobsite with people 1-a

During the development of your project budget, has your PM reviewed your proposed costs and given you real world cost examples? Did your PM rely upon their experience and knowledge of the construction market along with the requirements of your project – architectural fees, legal fees, IT costs, furniture, etc.? Did they contrast and compare similar projects to yours? There is nothing worse than getting a third of the way into a project and realizing that you’re 20% over budget or that you have not identified major costs prior to moving forward. Hopefully your PM has scrutinized every line of your budget to limit any potential misses. Each week, your budget should be a topic of conversation and your PM should be providing you consistent updates to indicate any changes (and potential changes) to your budget. If there are cost overruns, your PM should be able to be capture these and communicate to you early.

Budget 1

As your project moves forward, there may be cost changes due to unforeseen infrastructure conditions, to design changes, to code requirements, and to furniture upgrades. Unexpected changes like this can wreak havoc on a budget that has not been monitored consistently. Is your PM providing you with regular budget updates and off-line conversations about your money? Does your PM question additional fees from vendors as well as provide cost saving solutions? These should be expected from your PM as well as consistent review and tracking of invoices. Keeping track of who is being paid is just as important since liens can be filed against the Owner (or Owner’s landlord) if contractors are not paid within a certain amount of time.

As your project schedule is developed, your PM should be providing you with realistic dates that utilizes historical data along with timelines provided from other vendors of the project team. Hopefully you PM is not attempting to “guess” at overlaps or delays between construction completion and furniture installation without feedback from your project team members. Open discussion in meetings is the best method to insure that everyone is aware of the project deadlines as well as the intended completion date. And, as the project moves forward, your PM should be providing you with scheduling concerns that impact your expected completion date. There is always the potential to have delays with any project, but hopefully your PM is updating you, the Owner, with any schedule changes that need to be communicated up the ladder.

Schedule

When you first start to budget and schedule your project, your hired PM should provide you with honest feedback and be able to tell you the truth about unrealistic deliverable costs and dates early on. Honest feedback can be a blunt, “No way that can happen” or even a, “Not very feasible, but here are some options and let’s review the potential costs”. Is your PM afraid or unable to tell you the truth about your expectations? And do you receive weekly updates on budget and schedule statuses or just on changes and delays? A professional project manager will brief you on the status of the budget and schedule regularly, not just when there are overwhelming obstructions. And, when you, the Owner, are wanting to approve costs for a “want” and not a “need”, your PM should address this with you and make you aware of the potential impact…………regardless if you like it or not. This gets down to managing the scope of the project. If your scope your creeps away from the original plan, then so does your budget and so does your schedule. Your PM should confront you when your scope has exceeded the original intent and they feel that some items are out of line.
Feedback def

Without accurate and consistent updates to the budget or schedule, any project has the potential for failure. Hopefully your PM is providing you with consistent information and updates as well as giving you honest feedback that you need. Sometimes these conversations are not easy to listen to, but don’t forget that you hired a PM to manage your company’s project and to look out for the best interests of your firm.

Next post,  we will conclude this series with Part 4 – Added Value…………getting more value than what your fee suggests.

Does Your PM Really Have Your Best Interests at Heart? – Part 2: Organizational Skills and Attitude

February 27th, 2015 by Blake Jehle No comments »

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the importance of professionalism and ethics from your hired PM. From professional attire, to providing transparency, to being free from any conflicts of interest. In Part 2, we will review organizational skills and attitude that you, the Owner, should expect to receive from your Project Manager.

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ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS

Every project has multiple moving parts that involve large amounts of data, drawings, records and files. These include, but are not limited to, meeting minutes, budgets, schedules, plans, contracts, reports, emails, tasks, etc. One of the jobs of the project manager is to manage these project documents in a manner that provides the owner easy access at all times. And while managing these documents, the project manager should also maintain a positive attitude towards the owner’s project and also one that creates a strong team and not one that divides the team.

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Disarray and Confusion

Does your PM issue meeting agendas the day prior to the meeting and do they arrive with copies to distribute to the project team? Are they prepared with pen and paper? Do they issue meeting minutes within 24 hours following the meeting? This should be a standard deliverable, but it is shocking how many project managers operate in this capacity. If this is reflective of your PM, what does this indicate about the project manager’s organizational skills and their attention to your project?

When specific project tasks are being assigned, how does your PM handle issuing the assignments? Do they assign specific team members with dates and have consistent follow-up at meetings, or are the tasks dropped off from any future discussions? Your PM should review tasks at each weekly meeting and keep track of what is being accomplished and what is still outstanding. This consistent review will keep your team on track and your project moving forward instead of backwards.

Are the documents you receive presented in a readable and professional format that could assist you as you provide updates to Board members and/or the CEO? How does this reflect your position and your office to your high level stakeholders on this project? Your weekly reports from schedule updates, to meeting minutes, to budget reviews need to be presented in a manner that should not require editing on your part. After-all, you are paying for these services.

Order and Structure

Order and Structure

What is your PM’s attendance record to project meetings? Are they consistently late or do they arrive 5 to 10 minutes before the meeting begins? Hopefully your PM attends all of your meetings, or at least provides communication if there is a conflict. As your eyes and ears on the project, you should expect that they attend any meetings impacting your project. And of course, they should be providing you with correspondence to update you about the meeting discussion and the outcome.

ATTITUDE

Does your Project Manager attempt to work with the project team or do they like to yell, scream, and throw team members under the bus? Do they communicate with slang, foul language, or improper jokes?  How does this performance reflect on you, The Owner?  What does this kind of communication reveal about the confidence and skill of the project manager?  As professional project managers, they should be inclusive of everyone on the team and attempt to foster a team like atmosphere with all participants. There are many methods of addressing problems and issues that do not require belittling an individual. If this is typical on one of your projects, then these might be key indicators that your PM has lost his ability to communicate and lead the project team.

Positive Attitude Fosters Collaboration and Cooperation

Positive Attitude Fosters Collaboration and Cooperation

These characteristics are often overlooked by owners and this can have a negative impact on your project’s success. An Owner should request samples of previous deliverables, from minutes to reports to schedules, as well as a clear expectation of what will be provided on their project. It is also beneficial to follow up on references and review how the PM performed on past projects. And utilization of the internet from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets can provide good insight on the person you might hire as your Project Manager.  And most importantly, do your research and call their previous clients!

 

Next week – Part 3 – Budget, Schedule, and Honest Feedback

Does Your PM Really Have Your Best Interests at Heart? – Part 1: Professionalism and Ethics

February 9th, 2015 by Blake Jehle No comments »

IMG_2874In the construction industry, project managers are hired across the country to assist Owners with their projects.  They are hired to help you, the Owners, with team communication, managing budgets, scheduling/coordinating vendors, providing recommendations, having the difficult conversations, facilitating meetings, managing important notes and files…………….to the contractor and architect they are the Owner and should perform in the best interests of their Owner’s firm.

However, have you ever questioned whether or not your project manager is performing these duties and actually looking out for you, the Owner’s best interests?  Perhaps the following list of concerns might bring you to question whether or not your project manager is the best fit for your project.  In this series, I will point out some potential indicators that you should consider in evaluating your current and potential project manager.

PART 1 – Professionalism and Ethics

Does your project manager dress professionally and represent a positive image for your firm?  Are they dressed in business suits, or sports coats, or do they come to meetings in worn out golf shirts and faded jeans?  A professional project manager knows that they are an outward projection of their owner, and their Owner’s company, and should project this image to the project team………professional dress and actions should be maintained at all times.

The outward appearance of a project manager can also indicate possible biases or allegiances.  Is your project manager wearing shirts and hats with logos from contractors, consultants or vendors?  Although this might sound irrelevant, it could reveal hidden loyalties.  What does this mean about their ethics and objectivity? Owners should insist on professionalism from their project managers.

There are many real estate and property management firms that also provide project management services to clients.  These services can be top notch, but does this have the potential to cause interference with your company’s best interests?  This arrangement has the potential for the PM to work on behalf of their company (the landlord) and not in your best interests (the tenant/Owner).  Have you looked at independent PM firms that might be in the best interest of your project’s success?   Owners should expect that the project manager is acting as a steward of their interests!

Mike Stagner leads a project meeting

Mike Stagner leads a project meeting

Frequently, your project manager will need to conduct interviews to hire architects, GCs, and other consultants.  How are these firms presented to you?  Does your PM provide you with a list of reputable firms and then help you grade them based on the interview and their proposals, or are they only endorsing architects or contractors “that are approved by their company’s senior management”?  Or, do they try to influence your decision for one specific firm without a clear grading matrix?  Owners should expect a fair, honest and transparent process to “on board” designers, consultants & contractors to the project. 

Does your project manager defend the contractor or consultants on a consistent basis?  Or do they openly push back against these groups to represent your interests?  This is a good indicator of where the project manager’s allegiances might lie.   Owners should expect that the project manager is free from conflicts of interest.

In some instances, some PM providers have hired contract (1099) employees to manage projects.  Since they are not an actual employee of the PM firm, are they representing the values and goals of that firm that you hired?  Will they perform under the codes of conduct and ethics of their contracted company?  What are the impacts to your project if this person leaves and then who will replace them?  Owners should insist on a project management firm with full time/long term employees that represent the culture and ethics of the project management firm.

As the Owner, you should demand the best out of your project manager.  You expect the same from your employees and staff, so it’s no different when hiring a project manager.  Never forget that it’s your money, your objectives and your investment and hopefully your PM will RESPECT that as well.  If you set these standards early, then your project will run smoother, your teams will work more cohesively, and you will have a project that will be delivered on time and within budget.

Guaranteed success for everyone involved.

Next Week – Part 2: Organizational Skills and Attitude !

Playing Nice in Sandbox, by David Peterson

February 20th, 2014 by Scott No comments »
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Playing Nice in the Sandbox – everyone has a wonderful project experience

As a Project Manager for an Owner, is it our role to play nice in the sandbox or be the playground bully? Being an effective Project Manager for an Owner means different things to different people.  A project will typically be completed according the schedule and budget established between the General Contractor and the Owner unless changes to the scope are agreed to by all parties. But sometimes the leftover taste in the mouth about how successful the project went, can be directly attributed to the personality of the Project Manager.

Many times the Project Manager can adopt the “playground bully” role, and are known to take sides with the Owner over the rest of the project team. Whether the issues that arise are schedule, cost, construction issue, or completion date related, everyone tends to leave the project feeling as though the project was a struggle to some extent.  This playground bully attitude can create defensiveness in the project team and ultimately tends to create an “us vs. them” project atmosphere – where no one really wins – especially the Project.

On the other hand, some Project Managers take on the “playing nice in the sandbox” attitude. This doesn’t just mean letting the Owner or the General Contractor have their way, because this alone can lead to a dysfunctional project team dynamic.  An exceptionally professional Project Manager has the ability to openly (and calmly) discuss all project issues as thoroughly as possible, with the entire team, while simultaneously gathering information to provide to all parties in order to help reach a resolution.  This resolution may not be agreeable to all parties all the time, some may favor the Owner and some may favor the Construction team, but the resolution is one both sides have the opportunity to evaluate thoroughly from each other’s perspective.

Project goals and ground rules need to be established early! An experienced Project Manager knows it is not only how project issues are addressed but also how the “playground rules” were established early on so everyone knows the critical, non-negotiable ins and outs of the project (budgets, schedules, project requirements, etc.).  These must be communicated to ALL parties (Owner, Architect/Design Team, Construction Team, consultants, etc).  Like any project, a good foundation is key to a solid building.  Another critical piece of information to create before the project is underway is a responsibility matrix outlining who is responsible for each detailed aspect of the project in order to make it successful.  Everyone then knows their responsibility to the team.

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Everyone on the Team signed the last beam to be placed at Wyoming Medical Center

The Project Manager is responsible for enforcing these agreed upon rules, roles and responsibilities. The critical part of this process is how this is accomplished. The Project Manager must always conduct themselves with integrity and without prejudice, never making assumptions (good or bad). It’s about having the poise and the moral courage to “do what is right” – for either side. If it’s right, then neither side can argue.

Taking your kids to the park was always more enjoyable when they played nicely in the sandbox.  Completing a project, large or small, is never a “walk in the park” but it can be an enjoyable experience if managed with the proper attitude from day one.

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The last beam placed in Casper, Wyoming for the Wyoming Medical Center

Transparency: A Lesson Learned by Dana Harrison, PMP

January 9th, 2014 by Scott No comments »

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The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.

-Socrates

Knowledge is power is an old adage, but it certainly rings true every day in project management. That power can be abused, however. You don’t want to simply hold onto the information in order to retain the power, but instead use the power of the information to empower your team.

We have seen first-hand how transparency leads to successful projects and it always seems to come back to communication. Good communication is vital to any and every project.  One of the best communication tools we have experienced is to ask team members at the end of every meeting if there is anything about the project that is keeping them up at night.  Stressing in meetings that you want to know the good, the bad and the ugly about the project helps ensure that all details, whether pretty or not, stay in the light. It is better to be able to make informed decisions based upon all the information than on only part.

Time is another crucial consideration when it comes to transparency. It is simple. The more time that passes without the owner knowing the issues, the more detrimental that problem will become. They can only use their resources to assist in solving the issue if they know about it.

Transparency equals collaboration. Transparency develops trust within the project team and keeps every team member working toward the common goal. Frequent face to face team meetings with all accountable parties together will help make this happen.  Less interaction allows for distance and disconnect to creep in and cause problems.  Noble Energy likes to have meeting outcomes clearly defined at the beginning of the meeting so everyone knows what exactly they are working towards. Meetings are considered safe, productive places to discuss issues without judgment or finger pointing.

Go forth and be transparent!

Dana Harrison, PMP identifies the required outcomes for the meeting

Dana Harrison, PMP identifies the required outcomes for the meeting!

Interdependency: A Lesson Learned

October 10th, 2013 by Scott No comments »

As one of our standard services, Milestone believes in capturing the moment and holding a separate, distinct meeting with the main stakeholders of a project:  The Owner, The Design Team, The General Contractor, Key Vendors (IT, Furniture, Major Equipment) and Key Sub Contractors to review the project process and develop a list of “Lessons Learned”.  In our most recent “post mortem” of a major project, we developed three categories for our topics:  Breakthroughs (issues/ideas the team came up with that were truely unique and created outstanding avenues for team successes), Alignment (processes we developed in the project that aligned our team) and Opportunities (processes that would need tweaking or solutions for our next project).

By developing an atmosphere of “safety” and “constructive criticism”, where topics and issues were discussed in a collaborative session, we avoided the typical pitfalls of Lessons Learned meetings.  Those pitfalls are:  Blame, Humiliation, Fear and Anger.

Instead, we heard common themes that were subconsciously promoted and reinforced throughout the design, construction and occupancy phases of the project….we heard “interdependency” and “transparency”.  Words that I believe, quite frankly, are mis-used and tossed about in a very casual way.  Lets look at these words and the actions that demonstrate their importance on a major capital construction project.

INTERDEPENDENCY

The definition of Interdependency is “..two or more people or things that are dependent on each other.”  In our design and construction meetings, as a matter of habit by our Owner, he would ask a simple question as we closed the meeting “..team, what is keeping you up at night, and how can I help?”  Now, at first, we just took this as a the Owner being nice and subtly telling us that he appreciates the team working the issues of the day.  However, after a few meetings, he began to hear about some major concerns in design or in construction.  A few of these issues, the Owner took back to his company’s own employed engineering staff, where their team of engineers worked on these issues and brought solutions to the design and construction teams.  Other issues were solved by other members of our Construction and Design Teams that were unrelated to their role on the project.

Example:     The issue of delivering 1200 sets of office furniture without a loading dock that could handle a tractor trailer rig, was solved, not by the furniture vendor (who’s problem it was), but by the architect.

Results:  A true atmosphere and philosophy was created and acted upon to have the entire team hear the concerns of a team member, and then to formulate ideas of how we call could help resolve the issue, and perhaps, in so doing, achieve a Breakthrough!

 

Scott LaTulipe facilitates Lessons Learned

Scott LaTulipe facilitates Lessons Learned

 

Next blog…Transparency:  A Lesson Learned

 

 

 

A Hospital Pharmacy Renovation – Milestone On Times, Issue #7, October 2010

August 19th, 2013 by Scott No comments »

Here at Milestone, we have so much good information that is sent out over a variety of media, that we thought it would be a good idea if we brought up some past articles from our quarterly newsletter, Milestone On Times.  This article on one of our Pharmacy Renovations, was in the October 2010 issue of MoT.

We hope you enjoy it:

St. Luke’s Hospitals Complete Two USP 797-Compliant Pharmacy Renovations

SLEH Pharmacy
Photography by Geoff Lyon

St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital recently completed renovations to bring their pharmacies into compliance with USP 797 guidelines.

At St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, it was determined by the Pharmacy Department that a new negative pressure chemotherapy prep room was needed in order to comply with USP 797. Because the existing clean room and pharmacy work rooms were required to remain operational during the entirety of the construction, much time was spent planning the construction and occupation sequence.  Careful coordination of the equipment relocation ensured that the pharmacy suffered no downtime; the staff always had ability to prepare IVs and chemotherapy products.

At St. Luke’s The Woodlands, the renovation included the expansion of the existing pharmacy and lab by nearly 1,300 SF. To meet the requirements of USP 797, a new chemotherapy prep room, IV prep room and an anteroom were added.  In order to maintain pharmacy operations, the project was design to be completed in three separate phases, which would require a minimum of three separate TDSHS inspections. To renovate the existing clean room, a temporary clean room was setup outside of the project area so that operations could continue. And with a little creativity, the project team was able to sequence the construction (rather than complete the work in phases) so that only an 80% and 100% inspection were required.

Milestone Project Management was engaged by St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System to manage the design and construction process for both projects.

PhiloWilke Partnership (Architecture) and Telios (MEP) comprised the design team for the St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital renovation.  WS Bellows’ Medical Center Renovation Team served as the Construction Manager.

For the Woodlands’ hospital, HGA provided both architecture and MEP engineering services. Forney Construction was the Construction Manager.

Milestone Food Network – Recipes and Project Management

December 17th, 2012 by Scott No comments »

“It’s the most wonder-ful time of the year!” so says the famous Christmas song sung by Andy Williams.  I happen to agree.

I’m sure by now you all have seen our Holiday postcard for 2012.  In tribute to some of our favorite chefs and the season, we are cooking up some good things here at Milestone and we thought we’d share a recipe or two with you.

Happy Holidays from all of us!

Happy Holidays from all of us!

First up is an alternative to eggnog that is a holiday tradition in my house – Brandy Milk Punch.  I believe this originated somewhere in New Orleans, but the recipe here is one I received years ago from my aunt, Pam Klawitter:

Brandy Milk Punch

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ – 2 cups brandy
  • 1 ½ pints half & half
  • 1 ½ pints heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 8 tsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ pints vanilla ice cream

Directions:

  1. Mix together brandy, half & half, cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar.
  2. Cover and chill for 3-4 hours or more.
  3. Whisk mixture thoroughly and add vanilla ice cream.
  4. Return to refrigerator for 1-2 or more hours.  Sometimes I serve it right away.
  5. Stir/whisk thoroughly before serving.

Yield:  Approximately 2-3 quarts.  Recipe can be halved or doubled.

Need a little snack to go with that Christmas cheer in a glass?  How about some homemade Peanut Brittle?!  This recipe comes from the mother of one of my elementary school classmates, Ms. Sharon Francis.  Wherever you & Meredith are now Ms. Francis, thank you!

MPM Carrot Crew

Microwave Peanut Brittle

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light Karo syrup
  • 1 cup raw peanuts, unsalted
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Directions:

  1. In a large microwavable bowl, mix together sugar, Karo, and peanuts.
  2. Microwave on high for 4 ½ minutes.  Remove and stir.
  3. Microwave on high for 4 ½ minutes.  Remove and stir.  Add in salt and butter.
  4. Microwave on high for 2 ½ minutes.
  5. Remove and stir in baking soda.  Stir until light and foamy.
  6. Pour mixture onto greased cookie sheet.
  7. Allow to cool, then break apart.

NOTE:  This recipe should not be doubled.  You must make it twice, which I do as it disappears very quickly.

Yield: 8-16 ounces.

As I never could figure out how to cook a turkey and have found that others will do it for you and quite well, I give you the recipes for three of my favorite holiday side dishes:

Green Bean Casserole – everyone has a recipe for this, but I love the one my Mom, Mary Klawitter, makes with a bit of soy sauce.

Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 can French’s onions
  • 2 cans green beans
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • dash pepper

Directions:

  1. Mix together all ingredients, reserving a small amount of the onions.
  2. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.
  3. Top with the reserved onions and bake for 5 minutes longer.

Yield:  Serves 4-6 as a side.

Potato Casserole – mashed potatoes are awesome, but if you want something a little different, these are great too – from the kitchen of my Mom’s friend, Elizabeth Bales.

MPM Carrot Crew

Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag refrigerated, shredded hash browns
  • 1 ½ stick oleo
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • ½ cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1-2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3-4 cups Special K cereal, crushed
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt oleo and pour over potatoes.
  2. Add sour cream, green onion, and seasonings.  Mix well.
  3. Add soup and cheese.  Combine well.
  4. Spread mixture in 9 inch casserole dish (individual ramekins also work).
  5. Melt ½ stick oleo and add to Special K.  Spread on top of potato mixture.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  (Check and cook longer if needed.)

Yield: 4-6 side servings.

Last, but certainly not least, Yummy Macaroni & Cheese (like Luby’s makes only better IMHO).  Can’t remember where I first found this recipe, but I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years and it always gets rave reviews.

MPM helping the Houston Food Bank

Luby’s-like Macaroni & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. dry elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp. nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ cup boiling water
  • 3 cups American cheese, grated (I buy a block and grate it myself.  It can usually

be found near the Velveeta.)

  • ¼ tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain & set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 350°.
  3. In a large bowl, mix dry milk, flour, and butter.  Gradually add boiling

water, beating constantly.

  1. Add 1 ½ cups cheese and continue beating until smooth and creamy.
  2. Stir in cooked macaroni, 1 cup of the remaining cheese, and salt.
  3. Transfer to lightly greased 9×9 or 13×9 baking dish.  Cover tightly with foil.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  6. Return to oven and bake until cheese melts.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Moving on to desserts…the best part of the meal for many of us.  For those who don’t know me, I confess that I am a very poor speller (thank God for spell check among MANY other things) and I can never remember whether dessert is with one “s” or two.  I even misspelled it on the dinner menus for the rehearsal dinner for our wedding.  After that a friend gave me a trick to this one – you don’t want as much desert as you do dessert, so more “s’s” please!

This simple but delicious Apple Crumb Pie is from the mother of my best friend growing up, Ms. Judy Rader.

MPM helping the Houston Food Bank

Apple Crumb Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 4 large Granny Smith, Wine Sap, or Delicious apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup sugar divided
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter/oleo

Directions:

  1. Mix ½ cup of the sugar and cinnamon together.
  2. Place apples in prepared pie crust.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  3. Sift remaining ½ cup sugar with the flour.
  4. Cut in butter/oleo with a fork or pastry cutter.
  5. Sprinkle crumble mixture over apples.
  6. Cover crust edges.
  7. Bake at 400° for 40-50 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Christmas just isn’t complete without cookies.  My mother-in-law, Eve LaTulipe, makes these cookies for me every year.  There is only one problem with these little babies, they are addictive!  OMG!

Cake Mix Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 box cake mix – any kind (I use devil’s food)
  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring, not extract (or preferred flavoring to match cake mix)
  • ¾ to 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325º.
  2. With an electric mixer, combine the cake mix, peanut oil, eggs and flavoring

together.  Beat together until well mixed.

  1. Refrigerate 2 hours.
  2. After dough has chilled, gather dough by teaspoonfuls and roll into small

balls (about 1 inch in diameter).  Put un-used dough back in the refrigerator.

  1. Roll cookie balls in the powdered sugar.
  2. Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake 8-10 minutes, cookies will flatten out after they are baked.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies.

Finally, if you have a few guests and need a morning after breakfast, here is the casserole for you.  The recipe comes from our family friend, Lynda Burgess, who used to make it when we visited them in Colorado.  They’re back in Texas now, but this dish is a winner in both cold & hot climates.

Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1+ cup American or cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 cups frozen hash browns (do not cook)
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage, cooked, drained, & crumbled
  • bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Combine soup, milk, eggs, & cheese.
  2. Add hash browns and sausage.
  3. Pour into a 7×10 or 8×8 inch greased baking pan.
  4. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and additional cheese.
  5. Bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes or until set.  (NOTE: Can be made the night

before and refrigerated – if so, you may need to cook 5-10 minutes longer.)

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Everyone here at Milestone wishes you Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night ;-)

Amy

Passion in Project Management

July 29th, 2012 by Scott No comments »

We set up the plays to be made by our teammates

At Milestone we take ownership and great pride in our client’s projects.  There is no motivation we have other than moving the project from a vision to a reality.

Although Milestone is comprised of architects, engineers and contractors, we do not construct, nor do we design – what we do is extend the clients culture and philosophies through ourselves and  into the project.  We are a conduit, an extension of staff, we organize and facilitate.

We organize and facilitate, not only for our Owner’s, but for the entire project team.  We account for the issues and chase down tasks for the design team.  We proactively work with the construction team on schedules, budgets, site logistics and other hurdles that they encounter.

We position ourselves at the center of the communication stream, brokering and recording the decisions on issues, tracking the outcomes. We’re the one-stop-shop of project information, johnny on the spot with answers when anyone on the team has questions. We don’t let anything “get lost in the details” because we know it’s those details that can make or break a project.

We have a client that “doesn’t like project management firms”.  Period, full stop.  Milestone has been working for him for almost five years.  I believe that this is because we are not a “project management firm” in his mind.  We are on his team.  He is the quarterback, we do the downfield blocking…the front line work…we are the unsung Tackles and Guards that provide the Receivers and Running Backs the opportunities to move the ball forward and succeed.

In the end, its about passion.  The zeal to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and believe me – or clients are doing some pretty amazing stuff.  It is personally fulfilling to us on a very base level to have brought the first Cyberknife to Houston, the first Gamma Knife technology to The Woodlands, building a state of the art laboratory in which Dr. Doris Taylor is growing hearts out of stem cells, to extending the corporate culture of the leader in natural gas exploration – these clients are changing the lives of so many people worldwide.  Its the knowledge that we are doing projects to help people not only in our communities, but in lands that I may never see.  Passion.

Scott LaTulipe, football fan, is anticipating the beginning of the new season.  Ask him about his fantasy football team!

“If you’re lucky enough to find a guy with a lot of head and a lot of heart, he’s never going to come off the field second.” – Vince Lombardi