“We have a problem.” How many times have we all gotten that call?
Construction is a complex process involving many parties, each with their own interests, all working to build a one-of-a-kind product on a unique and ever-changing job site, usually with the added constraints of limited time and dollars. So, it is inevitable that problems will arise throughout this process. It’s the nature of the beast. It is little wonder that most people in our industry consider themselves problem-solvers.
It is the rare few, however, that choose to focus their careers on figuring out how to solve other people’s problems. Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to find myself amid an incredibly talented group of just such problem-solvers with Xpera’s construction management team, Xpera CM.
So, what separates good from great construction management problem-solvers?
A strategic, systematic approach to the entire process, not just the crisis du jour. This is particularly true when managing a repair or re-construction project. Fortunately, managing the implementation of technical solutions to resolve building performance problems is a specialty of Xpera CM.
These projects are generally more demanding and require a higher level of management skills than “ground-up” projects due to the unknowns and uncertainties involved, as well as what is typically the added dynamic of working within occupied or partially occupied buildings.
In our experience, the best solutions tend to arise out of the process that starts with the technical experts doing the research and field work associated with defining the problem and generating alternative solutions. That evolves into our construction management specialists getting involved with the evaluation and selection of alternatives and then ultimately implementing the solution with strict control of time and cost. All of this happens while keeping the technical specialists involved to make
sure that the execution of the “fix” is properly achieved and quality objectives are met.
Our approach to solving a construction problem, whatever it may be, involves four basic steps:
- DEFINE THE PROBLEM
Investigate, test and observe, evaluate, analyze and document findings. Strive to separate the cause from the symptoms.
- GENERATE ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS
Brainstorm the various potential solutions that best address the root cause of the problem, being careful to avoid just treating the symptoms.
- EVALUATE AND SELECT AN ALTERNATIVE
Based on a clear understanding of the client’s objectives, work with the client to determine what alternative best addresses their objectives of quality, cost, time, lifecycle and serviceability considerations.
- IMPLEMENT THE SOLUTION
The solution is only as good as its implementation. There should be constant feedback and evaluation of the client’s objectives throughout the implementation process to ensure that the client’s needs are ultimately met.
This strategic, systematic approach to construction problem-solving is essential. It’s the difference between slapping on a band-aid to stop the bleeding and actually healing the wound as part of an overall wellness plan.
The implementation of the solution is not a separate process, but is actually just another very critical step in the larger process of getting from “problem” to “problem solved.”
Ted Bumgardner is president, founder and expert problem-solver with Xpera Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.