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Build your team first

This week, we’re continuing our discourse on risk mitigation; looking at how a strong team can prepare you for project unknowns.

If you haven’t read the HBR article yet, now is the time!

Constructing a Team

Conventional wisdom states that the more in-house talent a company can use on a project, the lower the risk. Members with non-specific talents, like project management, budgeting or team building, would often tapped for positions on a build team. We believe that unless there is specific construction knowledge and experience, you should stick to hiring professional services for a build. Here’s why-

A construction team traditionally takes a ‘waterfall’ approach to a build: the output of each contributor, operating within their frame of experience and assumptions, becomes the input of the next. This sequential process creates a range of challenges, constraints, and delays, even before egos are thrown into the mix. It can be overwhelming for the uninitiated.

Before you build a building, you need to build a team.

When contemplating the use of internal (client) resources on a build team, take a critical look at staff capabilities. Be realistic about your team: if you aren’t 100% confident in a prospective member’s skill within a construction framework, it may be more beneficial to replace them with someone that has vetted credentials.

The most common client-staffed positions include:

  • Budgeting talent- someone who will manage project accounts to steer you away from over-runs.
  • Design talent- a competent resource for drawings/plans.
  • Team-building talent- a resource that can manage morale
  • Monitoring talent- someone to ensure all milestones are being met on time and (hopefully) on budget.

These roles can and do overlap- especially with highly experienced individuals.

So what makes a good team?

Buy-in. From Everyone.

One of the tenets behind Integrated Project Delivery is that all disciplines in a construction project work as one. A IPD-focused general contractor will manage most relationships and be in the best position to react to unknowns and deal with any disparate personalities.

We’ve all seen this horror story:

Client engages with designer. 

Designer designs project based on client’s vision. 

Client is happy and has their heart set on this design. 

Designer and client engage builders. 

Builders low-ball to win bid. 

Builder wins the business, engages sub-trades and starts construction.

Issues arise and the change-orders begin….

The project is now delayed and the budget stressed.

The Client is unhappy. 

Rinse. Repeat.

What if the client, designer, architect, builder, subtrades and municipality sat together at the start of a project? Could these issues have been avoided? Perhaps. If the municipality flagged an overlooked detail, the designer could accommodated it in their design, the subtrades would have shared their expertise so the builder could factor it into the cost for the client. Each individual’s past experience could have informed the direction of the project on day one.

Staffing the project properly and having a relationship-oriented team is crucial to managing challenging projects. Having a strong team from the onset will only set you up for success.