Archive for the ‘Project Management’ category

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

February 9th, 2015

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
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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

Interdependency: A Lesson Learned

October 10th, 2013

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

 

 

 

Milestone Food Network – Recipes and Project Management

December 17th, 2012

“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

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

Five Ways Milestone Project Management help our clients be more profitable

November 7th, 2011

At MPM we apply our efforts and our expertise to help you achieve greater growth and profitability through five “Smart” Services.

  1. Smart Source and Partnering.  The demand for capital project management ebbs and flows with your strategic plan.  When the demand grows for project management it is more cost efficient (profitable) to use our professional project management team rather than hiring and maintaining a staff. Retain the leadership of capital projects within the executive suite but let us provide the staff you need. The money you save on not having an in-house staff can be invested in other more profitable ventures.
  1. Smart Negotiation. Negotiate your facilities repair and maintenance supplier/vendor contracts.  Because we are in the market every day we can help you evaluate their proposals to make sure the “favored customer” rates aren’t above current “market rates.”  Competitive pricing can result in significant savings and increased profitability.
  1. Smart Tools. Use our smart management tools to create project scope documents, capital requests, strategic capital budgets and track project development.  We will help you establish the controls and reporting mechanism so you always know the status of your projects and are always in a position to make knowledgeable (information and data based) smart decisions.  Our tools will help you use project data to drive project decisions and proactively manage the project.
  1. Smart Schedules. The shortest schedule isn’t always the best schedule. Unrealistic short schedules can drive the cost of a project up and result in operational problems in the future, which reduce profitability. Smart schedules allow you to take advantage of the market place and your capital. Our expertise in schedule management will help you get your project to market at the right time and at a cost that will result in potentially greater future profits.
  1. Smart Planning and Expertise. Applying expertise at the right time, to the right areas and issues results in better projects.  Better projects have more potential to produce greater profits.  Putting your money where it will do you the most good (location, quality materials, efficient design) is the result of smart planning and expertise.  Making smart decisions based on real expertise throughout the duration of the project is the best way to assure reaching your return on investment goals.

There are more ways we can help your organization be profitable.  From leadership to stewardship we are your partners in creating better, more efficient, more viable healthcare facilities regardless of the obstacles that have to be over come.

Please call Bill (713-523-2552) if you would like to discuss how we could help your hospital be more profitable and visit our web site (www.milestonepm.com) for more information about Milestone Project Management.

“Cloud Project Management” in the Fall 2011

September 22nd, 2011

It has been almost six months since I last reported on how Milestone Project Management is working with our Owners and project team members in “Cloud Project Management”.  It has been an exciting time at our firm as we have really standardized and formatted the information disseminated by our web-based project management site.

Early on, we discovered that each user (architect, client, contractor, etc) needs to have a training session on how we access, present and post information to the site.  We build this 45 minute session into our project scope and use it as a team building exercise.  I think it has really “paid off in spades” when it comes to collaboration on the project.

Id like to share with you some thoughts that one of our architect participants has on our transparent and online solution.

David McLemore, AIA, ACHA of Kirksey Architecture, says “Everybody talks about the need for strong communication because we are all trying to find ways to better integrate our processes and better share the information we are utilizing to design, construct and successfully finish our projects. Working with Milestone and St. Luke’s we have just begun to “tap” into the potential for web based project communication, and we are already seeing positive results…in my opinion. Tasks are communicated clearly to all relevant stakeholders, discussion of key issues can be tracked and held without the need for a conference room… and critical documents can be accessed by the entire team, from just about anywhere, without the need of having to track someone down to find them. It will be interesting to see just how much this methodology can be employed to everyone’s advantage in the future…”

As of this writing, we currently have over 35 projects on our web based site, and more importantly we have closed six since the first of the year.  I think that this is significant since we have initiated all six and have closed them out….we have run the entire lifespan of these projects using this web based collaborative tool.  Our Team has learned alot along the way, and we have built a very strong foundation of how we are moving forward with our new and current projects by standing on the shoulders of these completed projects.

The developers of the site we are using to host our projects have been very collaborative to work with by taking our suggestions and working them into their platform.  A very lovely feature is the iPhone application.  With this app, members of our team can access dates, action items, team member status, and if activities are on-time or over due.  This information is crucial to our Owners who are stopped in the hallway and asked about project details…the answers can come straight away during that brief interaction.  No more waiting to get back to someone.  Amazing!

“Cloud Project Management” in early 2011

April 3rd, 2011

This is an update to my previous posts on Internet Project Management.

In the era of instant communication (twits, smart phones, and instant messaging – email is so 1996), we at Milestone have been pushing the envelope of how we communicate with our clients and project team members, to provide access to project data (timelines, issues, files, “threaded conversations”, etc) quickly and easily.

In the past articles, I have discussed a few hosting services that we explored and did some “beta testing” on, but in this article, I wanted to really drill down on what we are doing to put the philosophy of “Cloud Project Management” into action.

Currently, we are tracking over 25 projects with three clients using TeamworkPm.  Through some easy customization, we are tracking action items, schedules and milestones, sharing files (floorplans, space programs, product data) and “threaded” conversations.

We have had great feedback from not only from the Client’s senior leadership, but from our hospital directors and architects and engineers.  I think we all would agree, our emails or telephone calls about “where are we with this project?”, or “have you called Peter about the chiller” emails, have really dwindled.
In using the project timeline and milestones, we communicate the upcoming dates of projects.  We work in collaboration with the contractors uploaded construction schedule and our posted Project Development schedule, so if the “high level” milestones are not enough information, the Client can pull up the more detailed construction or our development schedule to see when the MRI is going to be delivered.

Of course, the information is only as good as the frequency of when it is input to the website, but by simply responding to a message that is generated by the hosting service, the information is uploaded and disseminated automatically.  No need to remember who to cc on an email….the project profile does that for you.

Currently, we at Milestone have standardized this approach to project management and are looking for ways to “passively” inform our clients and team members of the current status of projects.

Look for my next blog in a few weeks about how we are tracking Action Items and Issues Lists.

Have a terrific Project!!,

Scott

Internet Project Management: Fall 2010 – Update

November 1st, 2010

Update to previous post:

Dear Gentle Reader (tip o’ the hat to Dear Abby),

Over the past two weeks, we at Milestone Project Management have continued to review “web based/cloud based” sites that offer project collaboration tools for the various stakeholders for our complex healthcare projects.

The evaluation process was rather informal,but extensive.  We talked to the site developers, viewing online demonstrations/webinars, in some cases, downloading demo’s or trial memberships to “test drive” the capabilities of the systems.

We have decided to move forward for the next six months with TeamWorkPM.   While not as typically robust as other project management sites, we felt that TeamWorkPM had the right balance of detailed and overview information that made it very flexible and easy to use (see October 17th blog about tracking necessary and not-so-necessary information to an Owner) .  Being intuitive to use which was a “must” for us as our stakeholders on a project have a wide disparity of computer skills and/or time to spend trying to find information quickly.

Additionally, one of our clients is moving forward with using the site to not only track their Capital Projects, but also to monitor their leasehold contract terms and minor tenant improvements.  This is one example of the flexibility of this system.

Over the next six months we plan to move forward with over 12 projects on this site.   The project types will range from conceptual – long term projects, to short duration “patch and paint” or equipment switchouts.  We will even use TeamworkPM to assist in the collaboration of some minor electrical projects.

Currently, our “test drive” of the system allowed us to collaborate with our architects and user groups to disseminate project sketches, equipment lists, action items/issue tracking, milestone dates and decision documentation.  I was quite surprised how the team embraced the system and how easily the designers able to uploading sketchs and solutions to the site.  With the release of Teamwork’s free (yes, free) iPhone app, I expect our team members to be able to communicate and to pull up specific project status from the palm of their hand.  If you think about it, what a powerful concept for an Owner to be able to do….sitting at a board meeting, the discussion unexpectedly turns on the specific architecture of an inpatient room , you did not prepare for this conversation – but, you can quickly pull up the drawing and support documentation right on your iPhone or better yet, your iPad – powerful stuff.

As we move forward into 2011, watch this blog for my candid experiences using “cloud” project management (I should coin and trademark this term – a tip o’ the hat to Gene Simmons).  I also welcome comments from you, dear reader – let me know your thoughts.

The journey continues….

Scott

Internet Project Management: Fall of 2010

October 17th, 2010

What a long title….I was thinking of calling it “Digital Project Management”, but it occurred to me that saying something was “digital” has the same connotation for me as saying “Electronic” or “Virtual” Project Management”…some how it just seems dated. So, I decided to date stamp this article with Fall 2010 – seems current, right?

What I really want to discuss, is my relentless search for tools to manage strategic capital projects from the Owners perspective using websites and “cloud” computing.

Currently at Milestone, we are experimenting with a few of the lesser known project management “tools” that are out there. From my colleagues at work, we have a company history of working with E-Builder, Skyre, Buzzsaw, etc.

For the most part, these platforms require a long learning curve, some require software on each users desktop, expensive user fees, and quite frankly functions, that from an Owner’s perspective, are low priority features (tracking RFI’s, Submittal’s, ASI’s, etc).

What we are searching for is the “big picture”, the “50,000 foot level view”, as Owners, we are guiding the overall direction of the project. Our role in the typical RFI tracking, while important (as it could lead to cost impacts), is usually relegated to ensuring that questions are being tracked and answered in an acceptable amount of time.

Most platforms seem to focus on this aspect a little too much, and I would categorize them as “Builders” or “Contractors” platforms.

As we move into 2011 and test a few of these project management systems, I would really like your candid comments about systems that you have used, and recommendations on platforms that worked well. Perhaps together we can find “project management utopia”

Im looking forward to the journey,

Scott