Open-access content Tuesday 17th May 2016
19 May 2016 | By Fred Rademeyer
The way in which project managers (PMs) work with FMs to oversee such activities as relocation projects is critical to their successful delivery. Fred Rademeyer advises on how to identify the pressure points in the PM / FM relationship.
It is a crucial first step to have a clear outline of the result in a design and commercial capacity. This could be, for example, to gain a new environment to instil a particular work culture within the team.
The overall goal is then broken down into the individual elements, which could include connectivity or furniture, for example, to bring the entire brief together.
PMs will coordinate the plan according to achievable time scales.
Subcontractors are usually awarded those individual elements, and PMs select and coordinate these tasks according to the plan. From then, the PM must not lose perspective of the overriding 'big picture', while simultaneously keeping an eye on the individual elements of the project.
This so far seems straightforward, but the reality is that most challenges arise in the delivery stage of the project - regardless of how meticulously the plan is constructed.
From this stage until completion, who exactly has the overriding responsibility for the successful delivery of the project in its entirety can become hazy, and facilities managers can help.
It should be the responsibility of the PM to deliver, as well as manage, the projects. The final stages of any project can be at risk of individual contractors fighting for floor space, conflicts resulting in lost time and money, and ultimately, a result far removed from the client's original expectations.
However, blame is not left at the door of the individuals. Instead, there seems to be an issue with the historically relied upon systematic procedures of relocation projects. The status quo seems to be that individuals are responsible for their elements of the project, but the bigger picture is somehow forgotten after the plan begins implementation. Then, issues effectively arise for individual subcontractors, but not in their areas of expertise.
Client demands are changing in line with the increased levels of freedom, choice and control from the introduction of disruptive technology in the market.
Planning, delivery and project management need to be aligned more closely as part of the cost model.
The key word here is 'responsibility'.
It's the fundamental way to ensure that client expectation is at the centre of any relocation or growth project focus. One way to achieve this is to have closer partnerships with what would ordinarily be subcontractors. A group structure that has a single point of contact for an entire project allows the PM to work closely with FMs to maintain the agility and speciality of each delivery partner.
This is particularly important for projects with complex internal reconfiguration, with multiple stages comprising areas such as furniture, logistics, IT within a live working environment.
For FMs, it's helpful for decision-makers in an organisation to communicate their expectations clearly and regularly - allowing for adaptation of the delivery plan and flexible decision-making as the project moves forward.
FMs are in an enviable position of being best placed to share potentially complicated scenarios or areas to bear in mind both in the initial planning stages, throughout the delivery, as well as acting as a link between the various operations and the chief decision-maker - the business owner or managing director.
They know their organisations (and the structures that house them) better than anyone else does, so it is clear that the FM's knowledge should be appropriately relied on.
Project management is a core function in the fit-out and relocation sector - and it will have to adapt to the changing demands of organisations and their FMs.
The best way to gauge where commercial demand shifts will be is to look at consumer behaviour, and how we engage services nowadays.
Whether it's how we book holidays, book taxis or order takeaways - there are consumer platforms and applications that have been developed to give better transparency, choice and control to the purchaser.
The business-to-business service industry could experience a similar shift as suitable trusted platforms emerge.
Ultimately, whether the project is a just small-scale team moving within a building or across a floor, or a large company that is relocating across the other side of the world - the project needs to stay in line with the client's expectations.
Initial planning is, by its very definition, theoretical, and some perspective needs to be remembered to ensure that the big picture aimed for in the early stages of a project is kept front-of-mind throughout the entire process.
By adopting an attitude of responsibility in the first place, and communicating effectively with FMs to understand the barriers, opportunities and areas to be aware of throughout the project, PMs can both manage their subcontractors effectively and eradicate any slackness in the project process.
Fred Rademeyer is chief executive officer at Nexus PSL