In large-scale infrastructure, construction, and program management work, risks abound. Whether geographic, environmental, or resource-driven, risks are a challenge for even the most experienced Program Management Office (PMO). Without constant analysis, communication, and vigilance, your program could face costly delays, bad press, non-compliance fines, or even a lawsuit.
In the program and construction management world, surprises are never a good thing. Luckily, there is a lot you can do from Day One to keep your program moving on time and on budget. If everyone involved — from the PMO, to the client, architects, engineers, and builders — understands the role they play in spotting potential issues, you can greatly lower your program risks, and even avoid them altogether.
As early as the initial planning phase, use the following tips to give stakeholders the best chance of making informed decisions to address program risks before they become time-critical or cost prohibitive:
Use a Risk Register to Document All Real and Perceived Issues
Whether starting a brand-new program from initial inception or joining midway to get it across the finish line, having a clear view of real and perceived risks is paramount. To do this, the PMO meets with its internal team to review every aspect of the program’s current state as part of the strategic planning process. They create a Risk Register to document, quantify, and measure the impact of potential risks over time. Next, the PMO meets with the client to review the Risk Register, consider the issues the PMO raises, and trim or expand the list according to its priorities and risk profile. The risk register is a living, breathing document PMOs monitor and update closely throughout the program as issues evolve and change.
Stick to the Plan to Avoid Scope Creep
Without a solid launch plan and hard deadlines, it’s not a matter of if, but when problems will arise. Before kick-off, experienced PMOs work with their client to customize a detailed set of start-up tasks, such as a 30-60-90-day plan. This is a comprehensive outline that clearly defines roles, resources, and timelines that everyone who touches the project can understand and follow. As the team identifies and shares new developments or encounters an unplanned challenge, the PMO builds those solutions and their costs into the plan to avoid misunderstandings or false assumptions that can derail progress.
Communicate Early and Often
In a fast-paced project with a wide range of tasks and compliance requirements, communication is a two-way street. Especially in a construction or infrastructure project, both the PMO and the client benefit from keeping each other in the loop by meeting on a consistent schedule throughout the entire lifecycle of the program — ideally every one to two weeks — and laying all the issues out on the table. If a client runs into a permitting issue, the PMO may have the experience they can use to solve it. Or if a design change necessitates a contractor to perform work outside their budgeted scope, the team can address those unplanned expenses and decide how to cover that cost. If not, even the smallest, most harmless change request can set off a chain reaction of confusion and conflict.
Every Team Member is a Risk Spotter
Spotting risk is the responsibility of every team member. When each person understands the scope of work and knows their role within that scope, they are better equipped to identify and communicate risks both on paper and out in the field. For example, train construction managers and inspectors to know when to document and verify their progress by taking photos and drone footage. Most importantly, ensure team members know the process for logging and communicating those issues with their team leads in real time.
About Plexos Group
Plexos Group supports SLTT governments across the country in managing federal funding programs including the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, FEMA, HUD, and other funding programs as well as implementing large-scale, complex infrastructure projects made possible through public and private funding.
Contact Us to learn more about how we can help your organization maximize federal funding programs, limit risk, maintain compliance with federal laws, and leverage Projexis™ technology to expedite your next project.