George Wilkinson's Blog

(not) A hammer looking for a nail

The Wilkinson Project Group

Wilkinson Project GroupIf you are a "building junkie" like me, it is a lot of fun to tackle a big complex architectural/engineering project.  But after leading teams of various sizes in connection with projects of various complexity, I have reached the conclusion the the so-called "soft side" of operations management often controls the outcome ("it's only folks").

By this I mean that the organizational design and execution surrounding the work effort has a great deal to do with the outcome.

In the world of process design, one way of looking at what the organization does is called "workflows."

Workflow diagrams can be dry to say the least, but with respect to the design of tools to execute workflows, their definition is critical.  It's all too easy to get excited about "shiny new things" in the area of software tools and lose sight of the workflow to be supported.

Essay to “Owners”: don’t waste your money, get started well

The Wilkinson Project Group

(For purposes of this document, planning, design, construction, and development of real property (a.k.a. buildings) will be referred to as the “AEC” industry.)

Seattle, WA waterfront and marketplaceIt is common that many customers to services in the AEC industry seldom do business there and in many cases the project undertaken is a "one-off." Furthermore, these customers find themselves in the position of attempting to manage many intertwining contracts while all at the same time successfully operating the business that brought them to needing more in the way of property (buildings). These conditions, in and of themselves put up barriers to success, but there are more equally significant obstacles lurking at the outset.

Though integration of services in the AEC Industry is a rising trend, many Owners find themselves attempting to operate in the unfamiliar territory of “design, then bid, then build.”

(See the article entitled “Why design build is Hard and Owners should insist”) . Not infrequently, as the project moves into its early moments, Owners will find themselves attempting to sort out competing claims made by various parties (architects, builders, construction managers, real estate advisors…), that they are the most qualified party to lead the process. Interestingly, there is no single answer to the question of who is most qualified to lead, but there is a more critical question: what do you do to get started properly and not waste a lot of time and money?

The so-called "front-end work" is the answer to the question.

The New Owner (Representative)

The Wilkinson Project Group

The School of Architecture at Taliesin, Scottsdale, AZ

To this writer’s ear, “Owner representation” is a traditional term that may have drifted off into commercial history… A good thing. That historic role had mainly to do with contract administration amid a linear design, bid, then build model. In many cases those processes simply did not get the work done and for the so-called Owner representative, it was akin to pushing a rope.

The emerging new business models are far more integrated and open up the possibilities for a new definition of “Owner’s representative.” The new model involves application of deep knowledge all along the line of action from conception of an idea to the substantial completion of real property.

This knowledge as many pieces and parts including:

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