Project start is key to success

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Ben Schneider, project director and industrial market segment leader, Granger Construction

Congrats! You just got word that your company won that multi-million-dollar job you put so much time and effort into securing. Sit back, pat yourself on the back, take a deep breath. But don’t relax, because the real work is yet to come.

Once you’ve been selected to work on a project how do you ensure that the project gets started off on the right foot?

As an owner, how can you feel comfortable that the project is headed down the right path from the very beginning?

Being thoughtful and strategic about the onset of the project is critically important, and can save everyone – owners, contractors, subcontractors, architects and others – from dealing with a variety of problems over the course of the job.

Ben Schneider, project director and industrial market segment leader at Granger Construction, and a veteran of numerous, successful high-profile construction projects, emphasized the importance of getting off to a good start.

“How you start a project from Day One is critically important to its overall success,” Schneider said. “It’s amazing how many problems can be avoided by ensuring that the right people are involved and the right processes are put in place from the very beginning.”

The start of a project is so important that Granger has developed a specific protocol for handling the beginning of projects, called a “Right Start Meeting.”

“The Right Start Meeting is really designed to do a few things to ensure the success of the project,” Schneider said. “First and foremost, it’s meant to ensure that the right players and decision-makers are identified and have a seat at the table from the beginning.”

Other objectives include discussing the specific goals that are most important to the customer and establishing mechanisms – often dashboards – to help track progress towards these goals. Big goals are broken down into smaller, trackable pieces and are monitored and discussed regularly throughout the project.

Goals can change throughout the duration of a project, but monitoring and discussing them regularly allows the construction manager to “focus on the items that are bringing the most value to the customer,” Schneider said.

One of the most important components of the Right Start Meetings is the establishment of communications methods and rhythms.

“At this meeting, we take a pause and move away from the solution for a minute and talk about operations,” Schneider said.

Doing so minimizes confusion among project team members and sets the stage for purposeful and meaningful communication throughout the project.

“Taking a moment to establish expectations about how we’re going to communicate and behave together is of tremendous benefit,” Schneider said.

In addition to communication expectations, goal tracking and decision-making, Schneider mentioned one final piece of advice for anyone trying to get a project started off in the right direction.

“Don’t be so quick to start a project without establishing relationships,” he said. “Your project will go a lot smoother if you take the time to get to know each other beforehand.”

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