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Utilizing a Team-Based Approach to Streamline Your Capital Improvement Project Delivery

07.02.2021

DURATION 3 minute read

Projects in capital improvement plans (CIPS) often involve infrastructure that is critical to the community. Resources like water and wastewater treatment cannot afford downtime and need to be delivered to the community as soon as possible so they can continue having access to these vital resources.

For this reason, CIP projects need to be efficiently executed. Jeff Masek, P.E, Assistant Director of Capital Projects for the City of Houston, and his team are no strangers to efficient CIP project delivery. I recently sat down with him to discuss how lessons learned and shifting from an individual to a team-based delivery approach have benefited the city and Houston community.

 

Finding an Approach That Delivers

There is no “I” in team. You put yourself in a box by taking an individualistic approach to CIP delivery, which does not result well for the community. The standard project model among municipalities involves a lot of changing hands from one phase to another as a project moves through planning, design, and construction.

Though this model works, Jeff and his team have adopted another option that has resulted in increased efficiencies. By collaborating with outside entities on how their team could improve and streamline their work, Jeff and his team decided to shift to a team-based, project lifecycle management approach. Rather than having multiple points of contact throughout a project’s lifecycle, this approach has a single point of contact from beginning to end – providing consistency and shortening schedules.

“Making this shift was an endeavor, but it made our project organization and delivery more efficient,” Jeff said.

 

Embracing Challenges as Learning Opportunities

You will have team members that are familiar with managing a design project while others are familiar with managing construction. By integrating the two, you will have people working in unfamiliar areas as they learn new roles and responsibilities, which may result in inefficiency. Jeff and his team embraced these challenged and used them as a learning opportunity.

“The greatest teaching is to have a failure and learn from them,” Jeff said,

Our job is to help municipal teams increase efficiency regardless of their chosen project delivery method. If your team shifts to this approach, know that you may be putting people in positions where they might fail, but that’s ok. During this transition, Jeff supported these learning opportunities with positivity and ensured his team had access to the proper training so they could move forward and continue delivering for their community.

 

Benefiting Your Team and the Community

Prior to this shift, Jeff and his team realized the project understanding did not translate over once a project moved to construction. A collaborative approach allows you to build consensus at the beginning of a project. Everyone with a hands-on the project will understand why the municipality is performing the work and, once the project makes it to construction, the team will understand why it was designed the way it was.

More importantly, project managers are put in positions that force them out of their comfort zone and allow them to grow as engineers. By knowing why the city is doing the project and why it was designed a certain way, your team will feel confident addressing a contractor’s comments or concerns. Your team will also have a greater level of trust between design and construction by involving everyone in all stages of a project’s life cycle.

A lot goes into shifting a municipality’s project delivery model. You can learn more about this shift by listening to episode 16 of our podcast, Texas By Design. Be sure to check out some of our previous episodes for more news and trends impacting the AEC industry. You can watch the episodes on YouTube, or listen on all major podcast platforms.

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