Standardizing processes, making better use of data and owner involvement are crucial to aligning capital plans with strategic goals throughout the project lifecycle. Also consider the long-term value of bringing both delivery teams and owners together, working toward the common goal of project success.
As a result, you’ll build consensus and deliver predictability out of turmoil, according to presenters in a recent webcast, “Strategic Capital Program Management: Balancing Today's Needs with Tomorrow's Opportunities”.
“You want enough standardization to have the appropriate amount of flexibility, but you don't want ultimate flexibility because that's chaos,” says Nancy Novak, chief innovation officer, Compass Data Centers. “We have to get good at change and not act like it worries us every time something comes up.”
It's important to understand that every client and project present unique needs. Variables from regional authorities to climate and soil conditions all have an impact. “It's silly to think we're going to standardize to a point where we have no change.”
Novak offered the analogy of a restaurant kitchen. Leadership works in the back where it’s typically chaotic. They manage the chaos, so that for the project team in the restaurant, operations are smooth and orderly. You want your restaurant team to have predictability to be able to deliver your projects.
“Our business is never routine, and we need to get better, we need to get more efficient, and we need to figure out how to separate what's chaotic and what can be standardized, and then get good at both of those things,” Novak says.
There are ways to avoid the disruption that seemingly creeps into every project, particularly when it comes to changes in leadership, says Mike Moss, president of the Society for College and University Planning.
Build durability into a planning model so that when things move from prioritization and planning into project management, there's a clear path that isn’t dependent on one person or title. Organizations will endure turnover at the top, and it is important to avoid starting a new planning process with each change in leadership—especially with major capital projects.
“Build your culture in a way that's not role-dependent to the person currently in that position, but role-dependent to the expertise that they provide for that project,” Moss says.
A strategic plan exists to move an organization forward, and despite everyone's best efforts, there will be different goals and priorities that stoke competition. Protect the plan with “strong guardrails” before starting the project, Moss notes.
Be mindful that better information sharing encourages closer collaboration between business units, Moss adds.
Nurturing relationships between owners and delivery teams helps build a healthy culture. That culture can withstand turnover or other economic disruptions that can't be predicted, allowing teams to maintain their focus on planning and executing projects.
As culture and collaboration attain consistency, everybody is pointing in the same direction, rather than at each other.
“You’re prepared for success, because you went in with expectations of outcome alignment to your strategic direction, and you've worked to build those relationships so the majority of the organization can see that destination and work together to get there,” Moss says.
Standardization can be as simple as, “know thy data, know thyself,” Moss said. “But if you don't know thyself, it doesn't matter what data you have.”
Data can reside in multiple systems that aren’t necessarily complementary or supportive of each other. If people become protective of their information, collaboration breaks down.
“Standardization gives us predictability, it gives the client predictability and potentially, the outcome helps them with speed to market,” says Kevin Lovell, manager of transformation delivery for KPMG. In capital projects, that means a reduction in time to beneficial occupancy and use of the facility, and speed in their planning for recapitalization during the life cycle.
While templates are helpful to gather data more efficiently during the problem identification phase, Lovell says it’s important to start with human-centered planning and a customer-centric focus.
“It’s people, processes and tools,” Lovell says. “You really have to start with a human-centered planning approach.”
Watch the on-demand webinar, “Strategic Capital Program Management: Balancing Today's Needs with Tomorrow's Opportunities” to learn:
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