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Project Management

Continuous Improvement

Someone said that freedom is like bread, you go on earning it day by day. That is the same for productivity in a construction company. You go only planning and executing it day by day, and each day trying to become a little better than the day before.

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The Management of Variances

A variance is a change of what was planned. For purpose of this checklist, the variance may or may not be the responsibility of another party. It could be our own company’s responsibility. However, when there is a variance, the responsibility of the field supervisor is to RECOGNIZE it in REAL TIME , to DOCUMENT and REPORT IT.

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Underground Construction

Underground excavation is HIGH RISK. It is because, in part, of the difficulty in defining the precise nature of what is underground and the character of the material that is to be encountered . . .and the frequency of what is to be encountered. In other words, information or inadequate information is a major contributor to the risk of an underground excavating contractor.

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Strategic Planning


I suppose the first time I became aware of the concept of built in quality was from my grandfather who was a skilled carpenter, and who indeed did measure twice so he only had to cut once.

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Decision-Making Protocols

Drawing and specification conflicts. Use reasonable diligence to determine if any conflicts or deficiencies exist PRIOR to them being discovered in the field. If conflicts could have been discovered through a review in the office and were not until the field ran into a conflict, the contractor is entitled to any scope change but not field impact. There are a number of way stations along the road for the contractor to use reasonable diligence in spotting conflicts or discrepancies:

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TQM (Total Quality Management)

A few years back, I was asked to consult with a construction company about implementing a Total Quality Management program. (TQM, as everyone knows, is a management process developed by Arthur Deming, which he taught the Japanese helping them develop a strong, global economy after WWII. It is a concept of participatory management, customer obsessed, with quality at every level being the culture of the company.) After a great deal of work, discussion, training, process review, and the enthusiastic support of the supervisory personnel, the program was ready for implementation. Including a Best Practices Field Committee.

And then I received a telephone call that the operational manager of the company had told his project managers: “Listen, don’t pay attention to this stuff. I am just going along with it because the President thinks it is a good idea.”

The company has since faced oblivion three times, countless claims and almost a culture of repetitive mistakes. At about the same time, another company wanted to develop a plan to improve its operations. Everyone got on board and in the last ten years has been one of the more successful and profitable companies in its region. Same kind of company, same region, same economy.

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Dispute Resolution

Alpha to Omega


The following does not necessacily represent a complete blueprint of how a claim is put together; it does represent most of the steps and many of the “means and methods”, as it were, of a professional’s approach and thought process) to developing a claim and his client relationship.

1. How the client should work with the professional (Attorney, claims consultant, or technical expert. It is important that the client understand the relationship, its role in the claims process, and actually how a claim is put together.
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CONTRACTS– Rules of Interpretation – Duties and Liabilities – Risk Shifting

But for the contractors and owners, legal issues don’t build buildings and achieve purpose intended.  The parties should simply realize that such issues may arise and emphasize a preventive approach, best implemented by the three step quality program (Preparatory, Interim, Final) to assure that each phase of the project is performed in accordance with the contract documents, periodic testing is performed and corrections made as required. 

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The Science of Negotiation in Construction Disputes

The Science of Negotiation. This paper is entitled the “science” of negotiation because “science” simply denotes the concerted effort to understand or better understand a given subject. And science is fluid, not nearly as exact as some would believe. (Math is exact: 2 + 2 = 4. Science is an ongoing discovery process; for example science is attempting to understanding climate change. It is an ongoing process). Construction disputes are often complex because they may involve technical problems, complicated schedule evaluations, murky legal issues, and financial areas which sometimes involve more judgmental calculations than simply an audit approach. 

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Time related claims are often the most impactual to a project. When a project is delayed, it is a “lose/lose” situation. The contractors are seldom going to get whole in a claim situation, the owner’s use of the completed project is delayed and often liquidated damages are inadequate to cover the total losses. For example, in a manufacturing facility, the owner must get its product to market or perhaps lose market share; a hotel may lose a season; a school district must find another facility to house the students. 

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It is generally accepted that construction documents may lack perfection and may be subject to different interpretation. This section deals with scope of work changes; differing site conditions and schedule impacts will be discussed in  separate articles. 

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