With a vacant position, I have recently had the opportunity to once again directly manage some of our many facility renovation projects. Though I have managed these directly in the past, this recent exposure to holistically managing a project effectively has reminded me of the changing craft of total project management from beginning to end. Though different on every campus, these base approaches seem to be an operable and effective renovation project formula.
From experience and study, managing facility projects usually falls into several distinct stages of development. However, an initial caveat must be to define what a “project” means for each organization. For us, a project could be based on dollar amount, whether it is internally or externally renovated or whether it qualifies as a capital-level project. For purposes of this post, I will talk about the stages of the more complex external renovation projects that involve outsourced departmental support.
From my perspective, the stages of managing an effective renovation project usually fall into a preplanning stage, the project initiation stage, the renovation and communication stage, and the completion or closeout stage. These are not official industry terms or steps, but the basic fundamentals below give traditional insight on the basics typically included in each stage.
Preplanning Stage: This is usually the conceptual stage where a bank of ideas is prioritized, funding capacity is determined, and renovation impact is evaluated. For us, this stage includes referring to our preventative maintenance plan, our maintenance reserve plan, our annual spend plan, and conducting a preliminary buy-in process with our staff stakeholders. A key to success in this stage is having prior-year assessment, such as a facility improvement master plan as a base.
Project Initiation Stage: This stage involves work order processing, defining scope, identifying renovation availability timeframes, preparing bid documents, pre-bid meetings, and communication with the associated outsourced project manager. A key to this area is constant updates to and from the assigned outsourced project manager.
Renovation and Communication Stage: This stage is the most time consuming in length. It involves numerous communications with the outsourced project manager, contractors, subcontractors, and code officials. Often, the expediency of this stage is dependent upon the quality of the contractor, the quality of the communication with the project manager, and sometimes weather delays or long lead times for products. A key to this area is constant updates to and from the assigned outsourced project manager to maintain the project completion timeframe.
Project Completion/Closeout Stage: The final stage involves completing a punch list, inspections, closing paperwork, and saving project design plans and reference materials. In this section, a closing effort is important to store relevant documents, save warranty information, and assure maintenance or custodial are trained on their relevant aspects of the newly completed project. A big part of record keeping for this stage is through our facility management software. A key to this stage is the punch list. If a punch list is not completed well, the result may be suffering with an unfinished project for years to come.
It should be noted that we manage our projects through a centralized facility management system software. We utilize the software for tracking the budgetary, functional, work order, and document storage aspects of each project. Most of these software systems also have abilities to track project manager staff time, project timelines (using a Gantt chart), and per project references such as warranty, scope, parts, etc.
Overall, the result of systematically utilizing these renovation project stages and tools is usually a well prioritized, well planned, and well communicated renovation project.
is the Associate Director for Student Centers and Activities at Virginia Tech.
Scott Reed oversees and directs services, operations, and facility management needs for four student center buildings. Through this role, he has overseen renovations, served on the campus sustainability committee, led safety planning for the union, and is currently co-chairing a facility management software transition team. A long time member and volunteer for ACUI, Scott received his bachelor’s in sports management from Western Carolina University and his master’s in kinesiology with a concentration in sports and recreation management from James Madison University.