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William L. Shannon, Editor

William L. Shannon, Editor of CISCA

Time Sensitive Project Management

for the March / April 2007 Issue, CISCA's Interior Construction Magazine

Project Management, a term as old as the pyramids. In the past fifteen years much has been written concerning project management, particularly with the advent of computers in the construction industry. Most are familiar with critical path planning and myriad other names describing new and innovative means of increasing efficiency in commercial construction.

Most, if not all of these systems focus upon the complete project, and most do not adequately address the unique problems of successfully completing a complex interior construction project!

A preponderance of successful interior contractors have electronic systems for estimating and bidding projects, but many seem to "drop the ball" after successfully landing a project. Why? Perhaps the fact that different individuals or teams perform the takeoff, bid preparation, bidding, securing the order and actually running the project. So much can be lost in passing the project from one team to another.

In an increasingly complex interior construction market, the integration of components and systems of various specification and contractor sections requires a new approach to constructing a building.

A recent survey of interior contractors, suppliers and manufacturers makes it very clear, that lead times for various components of the project must be established and monitored.

This responsibility applies to all of the following:

Architect: The architect should take the time and effort to clearly articulate, on the project drawings and in the specifications, which products and / or systems are long lead time items. They should also make it clear in the project documents the interdependency of those critical products and specifically call for integration of the appropriate components. They should make it clear that these products and systems are important to their design, that they will take longer to produce than commodity products or systems, and that they are required for the project. Substitution is not acceptable.

They should call for the specific shop drawings required, and the required format, this should not be left to chance.

General Contractor / Construction Manager: The contractor or construction manager must take the time to ascertain what products or systems are long lead time items. Those accustomed to commodity interior products will be quite surprised if they apply commodity lead times to custom interior products or systems.

The contractor or construction manager should make it clear in their bid packages what sections of the specifications have unusual interdependencies with other sections. They should clearly point out long lead time products or systems and require schedules from bidders clearly indicating how they plan to meet the projected time requirements.

They should be clear that the products or systems are required, that they are not commodity products that they have been carefully chosen by the owner and architect.

Sub Contractor: Sub contractors should diligently review the project documents, specifically identifying those products or systems that have long lead times. They should know what other contractor's work directly affects their ability to meet the project schedule and indicate, in writing, to the general contractor or construction manager what they need to meet the schedule.

They should inform the general contractor the date they need their contract in order to supply the unique products or systems for the project.

They should then be sure to order the required products or systems according to quoted lead times.

Manufacturer: Material or system manufacturers must make it very clear in all quotations;

  • What is required for them to prepare a complete quotation, and their lead time to prepare the quotation?
  • The lead time for all materials or systems upon receipt of an order.
  • A list of all items on the project that will affect their ability to provide the specified material or system.
  • Suggested alternatives to reduce lead times, or, if the design or specification is not appropriate, what changes they would suggest to best meet the needs of the project.
  • The lead time for their shop drawings, and what they require to produce shop drawings.

One of the most frustrating aspects of the construction business is the lack of adequate time for all members of the team to properly perform their work in a professional manner. How many times are contractors and sub contractors given a few days or even hours to quote incredibly complex projects containing custom products or systems? Obviously this creates a recipe for disaster. It is not reasonable!

Project management does not start with the award of the construction project. Project management starts when a client hires an architect to design their important project. Our construction environment has become more complex, it is time to develop reasonable schedules from the inception of the project.

Architects and Contractors should work to develop a reasonable system to enable professionals at all levels of the process to properly perform their tasks. If not, they will experience sub standard projects and unhappy clients.

William L. Shannon CSI, CISCA
President of Shannon Corporation
Recipient of the 2004 De Gelleke Award

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