Project Management View from Rail Transit Programs and Projects

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A collection of articles sharing project processes, design and construction experience, best practices, and lessons learned along with operational knowledge related to executing programs and projects in the rail transit industry.

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Part 3 - Do You Know the Entire Contract

Part 2 - Do You Know the Entire Contract

Do You Know the Entire Contract – Part 1

Part 6  -   Challenges, the Laws of Physics, Project/Construction Management and Reality

Part 5  -  Challenges, the Laws of Physics, Project/Construction Management and Reality

Part 3 - Do You Know the Entire Contract

Critical Components in Information For Bidders   -  Key Personnel

This is the 3rd in a series of discussions that is intended to prompt Project Teams to be aware of the entire contract document, including Information For Bidders (IFB), General Conditions/Terms and Conditions (GCs) and the Technical Requirements [Specifications and Drawings.] 

Even with a standard form contract, it is important the Buyer’s Project Manager, Contracting Officer, and technical representatives verify content and ensure the contract is complete and executable within the Buyer’s organizational assets and business processes.   

Similar to specifying the company qualifications, the Buyer may also expect the bidders/Seller to provide Key Personnel for managing the work.     In addition to the level of effort – full time/part time, the bidders/Seller need to be aware of the Buyer’s expectations.    

IFB - Key Personnel:    A list of personnel is typically included in the Information for Bidders section of the standard form contract document.   This section identifies the key personnel required by the Buyer for the Seller.   For each key person, a description of experience, education, specialized training/certifications, licenses, and project experience.    The personnel may include Project Manager, Deputy Project Manager, Superintendent, Scheduler, Quality Manager and Safety Manager.   Under certain contract scopes, there may be requirements for Logistics Specialists, Training Specialists and Critical Crane Lift Specialist.    The requirements should be consistent with the Buyer’s expectations, the Engineer-Of-Record recommendations for Seller’s staff, and the requirements in the Division 1 Specifications, which the biggest tool in the contract for the Buyer’s project management team. 

For construction in the rail transit domain, the key persons may also include technical specialists for Track, Signal, Communications, Power, System Integration, Rolling Stock and Operations.

TIP:   The qualitative and quantitative requirements should be balanced with the qualified Seller pool but not be overly restrictive so as to reduce the submission of responsive bids.   

TIP:   Once the metrics are established in the contract, they can not be waived.    In order to avoid any type of protest during the bid evaluation, provide some flexibility in requirements for Buyer discretion using an equivalent combination of years experience, education and project assignments.

TIP:   Requirements for key personnel can also be stated in the technical specifications, which are prepared by the EOR.     During the final review of the completed contract documents, key personnel in the IFB and specification sections should be aligned.   As needed, the  IFB can identify technical personnel as key persons and reference the specification section for requirements.    

 

Posted on: September 16, 2018 06:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Part 2 - Do You Know the Entire Contract

Critical Components in Information For Bidders  -  Company Qualifications

This is the 2nd in a series of discussions that is intended to prompt Project Teams to be aware of the entire contract document, including Information For Bidders (IFB), General Conditions/Terms and Conditions (GCs) and the Technical Requirements [Specifications and Drawings.] 

It is important the Buyer’s Project Manager, Contracting Officer, and technical representatives verify content and ensure the contract is complete and executable within the Buyer’s organizational assets and business processes.   

Typically public and government contracts are advertised with legal notices in local and regional newspapers to attract a large pool of Seller’s to participate in the bid process.   The larger the pool of potential Sellers, the better the opportunity for competitive bid pricing, and thereby increasing  the potential best value for the Buyer and it funding partners, which many times include government funding.    

Once the contract is advertised for bid, any business entity can obtain the contract documents and submit a bid for the work.   In order to equally serve the time and financial investment by the Buyer and the bidders in the procurement process, the contract should identify company qualifications.    

IFB Company Qualifications:   Company qualifications are typically included in the Information for Bidders section of the standard form contract document.   This section identifies the corporate requirements for the Seller.    The requirements can include years experience; experience with project’s similar in scope, complexity and amount; licenses/certifications; and  the technical capabilities of the Seller’s organization.   The requirements should be correlated with the technical specifications regarding Cited Standards, Quality and Deliverables, and be consistent with the Engineer-Of-Record’s list of potential qualified Sellers for the contract work.

For construction in the rail transit domain, key project experience may include individual and combined scope for track and switches, DC substations, overhead AC catenary systems, third rail-traction power, ASC/cab signal systems, radio communications and fiber optic networks, supervisory centers and supervisory systems, train stations and platforms, rolling stock (passenger cars, locomotives and work trains), rolling stock and work train shops, and employee facilities. 

TIP:   The qualitative and quantitative requirements should be balanced with the qualified pool of Sellers but not be overly restrictive so as to reduce the submission of responsive bids.   

TIP:  Once the metrics are established in the contract, they can not be waived.    In order to avoid any type of protest during the bid evaluation, provide some flexibility in requirements that allows for Buyer discretion using an equivalent combination of years experience, project experience, management expertise, and technical capabilities.  

TIP:   Requirements for installation specialists, system integrators and equipment suppliers can also be stated in the technical specifications, which are prepared by the EOR.     During the final review of the completed contract documents, company qualifications in the IFB and specification sections should be aligned.   As needed, the IFB can identify other unique company qualifications by reference to the specification section for requirements.    

 

Posted on: September 10, 2018 09:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Do You Know the Entire Contract – Part 1

Critical Components in Information For Bidders  -  Due Dates

While there are many standard form contracts, each typically cover the same requirements available from Construction Specification Institute, American Institute of Architects, and Design Build Institute of America.   The standard form contains legal and contractual requirements to complement the execution of work defined in specifications and drawings that create the contract.    The contract content ensures that the expectations of the Buyer and the obligations of the Seller are clear, concise, unambiguous, understood and agreed upon with joint endorsement of the contract. 

This is a series of discussions that is intended to prompt Project Teams to be aware of the entire contract document, including Information For Bidders (IFB), General Conditions/Terms and Conditions (GCs) and the Technical Requirements [Specifications and Drawings.] 

While a standard form may imply it is a “boiler plate”, it is important the Buyer’s Project Manager, Contracting Officer, Legal representative and Accounts Payable Manger verify content and ensure the contract is complete and executable within the Buyer’s organizational assets and business processes.   

IFB  - Due Dates:    Due date are scattered throughout the Information for Bidders section of the standard contract form document.   The dates are assigned to critical milestones for prospective Sellers to participate in the procurement for the contract, and it provides the controlled and structured process by the Buyer leading to contract award.   These dates are essential to managing the contract procurement process in accordance with the project schedule.   The milestones usually include:  A)  Bid Conference date, location and time.  B) Site Tour date, location, time and itinerary.  C)  Question Period start and end dates,  D) Bid Due Date, delivery location and time.   The requirements should be reasonable for the contract complexity and industry, and should be aligned with the project schedule. 

For construction in the rail transit domain with government fundng, the optimum processes for procurement of the contract will include activities for:   A)  45 days (min) to receive bids.   B) 30-45 days (min) for bid review and selection of lowest responsive and responsible Seller.  C) 30-45 days (min) for Buyer’s internal time for authorizing contract award. 

TIP:  Assure the requirements account for Sellers’ time for creating take-offs, developing costs and submitting a responsive bid.  Overly aggressive due dates/schedule may cause large numbers of Sellers questions and requests to extend the bid due date or risk a smaller pool of bids.  

TIP:  The end of Question Period does not always extend with each extension of bid due dates.    Note that extending the question period risks that questions will continue from bidders with a consequential impact to the contract award date in the project schedule.

Posted on: September 02, 2018 04:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Part 6  -   Challenges, the Laws of Physics, Project/Construction Management and Reality

Achievable Goals and a Clear Mission and Vision

A financial commercial features an optometrist doing volunteer work saying over and over through various video clips – better, faster, cheaper regarding the manufacturer of eyewear frames.  While it highlights a business woman’s volunteer effort to bring eyewear to distressed communities on the continent of Africa, it can be misinterpreted as an acceptable means and method for leading a business to achieve the goals of a corporate leader. 

Saying better, faster and cheaper to employees at every interim point of progress is not the best method for achieving business success.    But for the commercial it works.   Unfortunately, today’s managers see this style as the foundational approach to managing a business and their employees.   

As a result, management professionals frequently use the acronym SMART to create a framework of target goals for employees to follow and be successful.  

  • S = Specific.   This must include statements such as start, complete, launch, open or rollout on month/day/year.
  • M = Measurable.   This must include weekly, monthly, quarterly data collection of corresponding metrics compared to planned schedule.
  • A =  Attainable, Achievable.  This must include expectations that are based on industry capabilities, history on projects similar in scope and complexity, and proven means and methods
  • R = Realistic, Reasonable.   This must include metrics that challenge the norm but also has sponsor backing to optimize or improve processes for project execution.
  • T = Timely.  This must include aligning resources with S, M, A and R in adequate time to plan for execution under project conditions, including influences from government, economic, geographic and business plans.

The two most important Letters are A and R.   In order for the S, M and T to be meaningful, the environment for project success must be created by corporate leaders, including those that are accountable in a Project Management Office (PMO).  Leaders also need to think SMART in aligning the environment with employee goals.      

  • S = Stewards [for service excellence.]    This must include management professional that understand project management principles and standards for success in the specific industry domain of the organization.
  • M = Mature.   This must include hiring managers and supervisors that can train and coach employees for the task at hand as well as planning for succession of employees to increasing responsibilities in the PMO and organization.  
  • A =  Articulate.   This must include effective, trustworthy, honest and timely communications sponsored by the organization and distributed throughout the PMO.  
  • R = Respect [of the profession.]   This must include demonstrated commitment and presentation of examples by PMO and organization to stimulate repeat of good practices and to avoid poor practices.   
  • T =  Trust.    This must include delegation of assignments to employees with accountability commensurate with responsibility, authority and decision making on projects.  

Reality A

SMART is a acronym and it is a concept that provides the first letter of attributes that can be defined for printed expectations for creating successful management in a PMO and throughout management in an organization.    Like any goal it will challenge the PMO status quo based on the best metrics from the previous set of goals.  

Reality B

A PMO is most frequently portrayed as support to projects, programs of projects and portfolio of projects.   Many PMOs focus on dashboards, heat charts, to-do-lists, integrated project schedules and project priorities.   But generating large amounts of data analytics in varied formats may create distractions for PMs, who already use established systems, techniques and tools for managing projects.  

PMO leadership is more than just providing excellent deliverables for measuring progress against planned metrics that show project status and aid in making decisions on projects.   A PMO is in the business of project management, and it is the knowledge resource creating project management success.   PMO is accountable for:

  • Implementing strategies and guiding principles for project implementation
  • Developing and improving processes and procedures
  • Training personnel and  recruiting personnel
  • Creating and optimizing an organizational structure and reporting hierarchy
  • Providing the tools, systems and resources
  • Creating an effective work environment.   
Posted on: August 24, 2018 08:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Part 5  -  Challenges, the Laws of Physics, Project/Construction Management and Reality

Access to Work Space

Getting painted into a corner may leave no way to finishing work without disturbing completed work.    While project/contract progress can be accelerated by working on multiple locations, the construction management team must ensure that the work is performed and integrated with other work and that the area is accessible for completing remaining work.

Construction management services work with contractors to develop means and methods for construction, establish supply chain and logistics for materials, monitor work in the sequence planned, and to implement work-arounds for unplanned field conditions.   In many rail transit projects, the work area is within an existing operational asset that is being replaced, upgraded or expanded.   These projects are normally constrained by fixed property lines with contract work zones that have trains running through the area. 

The core business of rail transit companies is transporting people and commodities from a current location to a new location.   This core business is a relied upon service and it is essential to regional and national commerce in countries throughout the world.  As a result, the execution of projects need to be organized and executed in a manner that maintains transporting services with little to no impact on commitments.   This includes work flow that allows access and assures constructability of work as progress changes the condition of the asset. 

On large project, there may be multiple contracts that share work zones or that overlap at critical points.   This increases the construction management effort for stimulating and maintaining contractors’ progress and for coordinating the logistics for:

  • Realistic space, layout and segregation of secure staging areas
  • Reliable access for movement of manpower, materials, tools and equipment
  • Adequate temporary facilities for personnel, emergency services, fire protection and material storage
  • Assignment of protective services to comply with government laws, regulations and codes.

Scheduling multiple contracts is possible using available software tools.  It can easily make adjustments to scheduled activities, manpower and equipment that can be used to manage contractor progress across a program of projects with interdependencies for predecessor and successor activities between contracts.  It can also manage milestone and schedule constraints.

Scheduling experts can increase work hours, increase manpower, accelerate material deliveries, and add construction equipment.  Unfortunately, scheduling tools can not create work space.   

Reality

Putting fifteen people in a telephone booth may increase the call minutes per square foot but it will drastically reduce the quality and effectiveness of telephone conversations and lead to rework as calls need to be redone due to background noise and mistakes from cross-talk. 

CM office is responsible to manage and coordinate contractors’ access to work areas and to manage the contractors’ creation and maintenance of safe and secure temporary facilities, material storage and staging, and of parking areas for employees, company vehicles and construction equipment.    

Posted on: August 16, 2018 09:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)
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