September 28 & 29, 2020 | Virtual
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Given the impact of design flaws on near and long term success criteria, I'd suggest evaluating whether the milestone date needs to be pushed back to avoid that risk being realized.
Likely lots of good lessons around having a more disciplined approach to change control and sticking to freeze dates.
The only thing I never give as a possibility to be discussed in everything I am assigned is a project management change process will be in place. For me is the life jacket for the project manager. I always said "every change is welcome. Just take into account each change will be process inside the project management change process". With that said, I understand your situation because I was in the same place lot of times.
In my experience this is a common occurrence in construction projects using a linear process - design, tender, construct, closeout. The stakeholders, usually subject matter experts, are provided numerous opportunities to review, comment and influence the design - usually at 35, 50, 75, 90 and final design.
The problem starts when stakeholders can't be bothered to have a serious review until the end of the process. Then hell breaks lose when the proposed design does not, in their opinion meet their requirements (in some cases revised requirements).
The obvious answer is communications though integration - do not allow the design team to work in isolation, sometimes called collaborative design (co-design). Failing that or in conjunction with:
1) reduce the review opportunities, 2 or 3 versus 5 or more
2) define the purpose of each review
3) document the review and commentary process including design responses to inputs (spreadsheet format?)
4) assign followup on all review inputs rather than wait for the next review opportunity
5) Review commentary should be based on the initial scope and mandate - don't use the review to introduce changes.
6) make sure the stakeholders understand the impact of review commentary, especially on time and cost.
7) Set adequate, yet specific review periods acceptable to the reviewing stakeholders, maybe incorporate a pre-submission progress report
8) communicate, communicate, communicate.
I do agree with Peter. He made good points
Fess up and take responsibility, they made changes out of the process but you let them. So make it a shared fault because you have to let them know changes can't happen like that. Then de-scope part of the work and create a phase 2. Tell what you are going to do to get back on track. Or what you can get done by the original date. All the rest is phase 2 at this point. Stick to the change process on phase 2. Add this to your risk registry to highlight the risk frequent changing, in or out of the process, has on the schedule and budget. Maintain good assumptions and dependencies and keep those forefront in your reviews.
Change process is a tool to guide both parties in solving change requests when they occur, it does not help to enhance project's quality and ensure project success. Project products have to meet customer requirements, failing in do so will lead project to be considerred as a failure even it completes on time and within budget. In your case, I think the design company did not apply proper techniques to elicit and manage requirements and did not work closely with customer during design process. I think the design company should change to Agile approach, using co-design techniques, and work closely with customer, as Peter pointed out, for the rest of design phase.
You received some great advice here. Kiron, Sergio and Peter are spot on!
Margaret seems tough, but in my world of Tier One Project Management (either Contractor or Owner side) I agree with her that you need to rigidly assume responsibility for Goal setting and meeting KPI's.
I always have a change management plan in place which always includes additional costs (scope creep) and duration additions ordered by the Owner. The Owner does not have a Blank Check! Your job is to communicate this to your Client-if it is a PM he needs to be involved in the communication process with the Owner. Please remember- everybody in the process has an ego and proper communication will alleviate hurt feelings.
I have become an expert at performing Constructability Reviews to make sure no Detailed Design flaws come back to bite me-this is usually performed at the 75% phase of detailed design.
When necessary I involve my internal SME's in these meetings. We always uncover some errors no matter the trade.
Almost every Detailed Designer fails to coordinate with the other trades-Str, Arch, MEP, Str. Stl., Curtain Wall glass performance, etc. I wish I had $100 USD for every time an MEP Designer ran a main supply line through a structural element, or the sprinkler line or cable tray conflicted with exhaust ducts in a Parking Garage---I would be Retired Now!
I wish you well- take control of this challenge before it takes control of you!
From the Trenches!
It's nothing to fess up here. The company I work for does not have the whole management of the project. The problem was initially created by another organization and the owners management team haven't seen this coming. This, however, impacted the whole project and consequently our function and work.
So I am just wondering how you can protect your interests and the project (although you may have a great part of it but not all of it) from disorienting. I understand that this may not be our total responsibility but I believe it is also our duty to protect a project that will create many job opportunities.
It is true, that the proper thing would be for the owners PMO to follow a proper change process with whatever that may mean in terms of schedule. The problem is when an organization that works on a project endangers this project but actually this behavior does not actually falls outside the contract. What happens if a project despite the schedule restrictions has not matured by someone that coerces a milestone that is not feasible anymore (for any reasons that this organization may have)?
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