First Steps in a Project

RPMI has observed many times where effective and timely project planning is necessary to an institution. Yet, since everyone already has a full time job it is very easy and typical to keep putting off the hard work. However, at some point, ready or not, the starter’s gun sounds and the project is off to the races. Now there isn’t time to do the proper preparation and thus the foundation of the project will not be anywhere near as strong as you need. It is during this period that the biggest mistakes are made and/or the best opportunities are missed.
The list of items that need to be tackled to successfully kick-off a project can seem overwhelming. The question becomes where to start and who will have all that time to work on it? We suggest taking several of the items that are critical from the beginning or are the most time consuming and start working on those now. This will form the ’bedrock’ of your project process.
Starting suggestions:

  1. Budget Tracking Tool– This tool should be developed and put in place from the very beginning. Part of this is developing a procedure for its use so that all costs are accounted for. It is always amazing how early some costs start to accrue and how many potential folks are involved. It is very hard to capture these costs at a later date and either shift or assign them to the project. RPMI can develop this for you with very little staff time involved.
  2. Architectural/Engineering Contracts– These contracts should be written such that they ensure performance and accountability based on the real world challenges of a project. Subsequently they should be reviewed by your legal team. This process can be quite technical and time consuming. RPMI can do the bulk of the work with little burden on the Owner. We would find out what is important to your project, incorporate your recommendations and then make the rest of the substantial changes based upon our experience. We would brief you on what changes are recommended as well as why they are recommended. We would personally review all the changes with your legal team.
  3. General Conditions and Construction Management Contract– These contracts should be included in the architectural RFP since the architect will have both responsibility and liability in administering this contract. You don’t want them coming back later for additional services due to contract changes. By including this in the RFP it usually doesn’t affect the fee. Again it puts the Owner in an advantageous position. RPMI can also perform this work like above with little burden on the Owner.
  4. Project Scoping Meeting– This meeting would establish in a very broad sense the major components of the project and discuss the potential phasing. We would participate and document this meeting. If necessary we can lead the meeting. This should not take that much Owner time. It will start the basis of your Strategic Imperatives.
  5. Project Schedule– based upon the Project Scoping meeting Ritter would develop a broad based schedule describing critical milestones for phasing purposes.
  6. Architectural/Engineering Request for Qualifications/Proposals– With the previous work complete Ritter can develop the comprehensive RFQ’s and RFP’s to start the selection process. When done properly it results in the best designers being brought in for interviews. It also results in the basis for contract and fee negotiations. The bulk of this preliminary work can be done with little burden on the Owner.
  7. Organizational Structure– Ritter can make recommendations on an effective structure. Once reviewed by Mercy, Ritter, using some of our standard tools, can formalize the structure and roles of the various parties.
  8. Education– Ritter can develop educational presentations on the project process for the Board, Administration and the various User Groups. This not only builds trust, credibility and confidence in the Project Team but it also allows the various groups to be more effective in their roles.

By starting with the items above it not only gets some important tasks completed but it also starts easing people into the process. When the time is appropriate we can use these initial building blocks to create momentum. Most importantly is for Ritter to develop a very high level of rapport and trust with Mercy Hospital. This relationship would begin with the steps above and will become invaluable when the actual selection process begins. This relationship allows Ritter to serve Mercy best when we provide subsequent leadership and guidance.