Your Board of Directors and Property Manager review upcoming Projects for the community. These projects may be identified in your Reserve Fund Study or may be an opportunity to enhance the curb appeal of the community outside of the Reserve Fund Study requirements.
Every project can be defined by five separate process groups: 1) Initiating 2) Planning 3) Executing
4) Monitoring & Controlling, and 5) Closing.
It is wise for the Board of Directors and property manager to understand each of these process groups and the type of activities that are needed in each to ensure a successful project. High value projects should have an assigned project manager. That person is in-charge of overall planning and execution of the project. The project manager will report to the Board of Directors and property manager throughout the project.
In the initiation stage, we identify what the project will be and agree upon the success criteria and objectives. We also identify the stakeholders which are usually the residents of the community, and vendors delivering the product or services. At times, this will also include anyone affected by the project. As such, it is essential that information about them is collected, for example, names, contact information, level of interest and influence in the project. It is beneficial to develop potential strategies when engaging with each stakeholder.
Planning of the project occurs before the work commences and requires a well-defined scope of work, accurate project time allowance and overall project cost projections. Scheduling of activities will provide a realistic time-frame for project completion; remember to account for weather delays and other potential disruptions. Determine the budget for the project, which may be realistically outlined in your Reserve Fund Study (RFS). Factors not considered when the RFS was completed may alter the funds required to complete the project. Property managers and the assigned project manager can review similar projects recently completed to verify if the costs outlined in the RFS are accurate. Verification usually requires meetings and inspections during the project life cycle.
Communication is critical when any project is being considered. Clear and frequent correspondence between the Board of Directors, Management, vendors, residents and any other identified stakeholder will go a long way in making the project a success. Plan your communication, even going as far as to over communicate, and use all available tools you can to get the message across. Communication vehicles include meetings with an individual or group of stakeholders, community town hall meetings, paper notices, electronic notice boards, websites, email, and telephone calls.
Plan for risks to the project and identify these risks along with appropriate responses. Risks can have a negative and positive impact on the project so being aware of these during the planning stage will give you tools to deal with them as they arise.
Executing the project is when the actual work begins. This is when management of project teams is required along with management of communications, as well as stakeholder engagement. Management of project teams involves observation reports as well as conversations with the teams. This is needed to resolve any conflict that may develop between stakeholders or project team members and ensures that all parties understand who is responsible for each task.
Management of communications will have been agreed upon in the planning stage of the project. These include what platforms of communication will be used, frequency of communication and performance reporting of the project. Management of stakeholders requires communication to address concerns and meet expectations, resolve conflict and solicit feedback on the progress of the project, delivering updates on any delays or other information that may impact the stakeholders. These should be delivered in a timely and frequent manner.
4. Monitoring & Controlling
During this part of the project there is a lot to consider and do as the project continues along to completion. Despite careful planning and executing, there will be challenges that present themselves. As tasks are completed, validation of the scope of work will ensure that the project deliverables are what was agreed upon and accepted.
Scope creep is when the agreed upon scope of work of the project expands without authorization, adding costs that no one has planned for and increasing time. This is a real concern, and should be avoided. An example of such is an asphalt driveway project that is proposed and agreed on, costs and timelines are known, and just prior to work starting, the material is changed to interlock brick or stamped concrete. This changes the cost, time and resources needed to complete the project without addressing the effects of the change.
Control of the schedule, costs, quality, and risks all require attention during this phase and each need to be monitored and controlled. Schedule, costs, quality requirements may not be met due to weather issues, labour strikes, the lack of resources or wrong materials being used to complete the required work. There should be an allowance for these types of possible disruptions and their impact on the project in the planning stage.
Closing of the project is the most overlooked process in any project. At this time, the project is officially completed and any deficiencies have been addressed and payment is made. However, there is more to do: there should be a final analysis of the scope of work of the project to ensure that the deliverables and project expectations were met.
Lessons learned from the project need to be captured and documented to be used as a reference for similar projects. This allows for knowledge transfer so that future projects can learn from the previous ones.
CRAIG MCMILLAN, RCM, ACCI, CMCA, CAPM
is the Vice President for Operations at Maple Ridge Community Management (MRCM). He has been a condominium professional since 2003, is a member of ACMO, is a Registered Condominium Manager Instructor and is Leadership Evolution and Development (L.E.A.D.) certified. Craig also has over 20 years of experience in customer service and business management.