AIM National Conference 2019 is sponsored by Artelia
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If your Museum’s journey to becoming a ‘Great Destination’ involves embarking on a new building project, redevelopment of an existing space, expansion or restoration, then the process can seem a bit of a minefield. How much will it all cost? Is National Lottery Heritage Funding an option? How long will it take? Who do you need to help you? How do you get consultants and contractors to understand your vision? What are the risks? What happens during the construction process?
Steve Prowse, Head of Heritage Project Delivery at Artelia, AIM Conference’s lead sponsor, looks at how to map out your journey to being a better visitor destination and the key ingredients for successful capital project delivery.
If you need help with planning and delivering a capital project, give the friendly team at Artelia a call on 0207 269 0450 or follow them on Twitter at: @ArteliaUK
Steve Prowse will also be attending AIM National Conference from 20-22 June in Newark and giving a talk on Friday 21 June called: Laying the Foundation to creating a Great Destination – The Business Appraisal made easy
AIM has a Success Guide for free download, written by Bill Ferris OBE DL, with thanks to Artelia called Successfully Managing Capital Projects.
Issue One: The Strong Client
Capital projects aren’t really about buildings they are about creating spaces that enable you to deliver your vision and achieve great results for your visitors and local community. So, the key ingredients here are:
1: Have a clear vision and success criteria for your project which you’ve tested with stakeholders.
2: Determine the scope and be clear about what’s in the project and equally what’s not. Setting limits and managing expectations is vital.
3: Make sure it fits in with your long-term strategic plan.
4: Work out how to communicate it concisely and passionately e.g. a short presentation, so you create buy-in with stakeholders and those delivering the project.
5: Establish your project team (staff, volunteers, trustees), but know your limits. Capital projects are demanding and resource intensive. Even if you have the skills in-house, if you have an organisation to run day to day, your team will probably not have the capacity to manage the build well and that’s when problems start and quickly escalate.
6: Identify what external support you need – Project Manager, Cost Manager, Design Team and budget accordingly,
7: Create a governance structure. During the project there will be lots of decisions to take and its important to be clear on how and who takes those decisions.
Issue Two: Writing the Project Brief
Putting a well thought out Project Brief down on paper focuses and defines what you are trying to achieve (your project objectives) and how this fits into the overall visitor experience. It ensures your primary goals remain front of mind for you and your project team. So, for example, these might include sympathetic restoration, safeguarding an historic collection, improved operational efficiency, revenue generation, an immovable opening deadline. No two projects are the same and the Project Brief needs to be relevant to your priorities and funding.
So, the key ingredients for a great project brief are:
1: Share what the core objectives of your Museum are and how the project fits in.
2: Think about what is really important to your organisation – expectations are what can cause projects to fail. Unless they are stated and captured, they may only surface later in the project when someone notices something is missing.
3: Consider how the project will operate when finished, not just how you will deliver it – think Objective > Output > Outcome/Benefit to our museum.
4: Consider the funds available for both capital development and operationally.
5: A brief is not set in stone and as projects develop, naturally there may be changes of direction and so the brief can, and should, be amended to reflect this. Always check the consequences of a proposed change against the brief to ensure it still delivers your objectives.
6: Capture relevant benchmarking information to inform your post project evaluation process
7: The brief will enable you to track your progress and will become a roadmap for your project.
8: Is this the time to think about what comes next when we successfully deliver this project? Your organisation strategic plan.
Issue Three: Appointing a Professional Team
You are very likely to need some outside assistance for a capital project – a design team (architect, structural engineer, mechanical and electrical engineer, exhibition designer, access consultant, activity consultant for the NLHF funded projects and maybe also a Project and Cost Manager, if you’ve decided that you don’t have the time or skills in-house. Appointing the right team and communicating your vision effectively to them will have a big impact on how smoothly project delivery actually happens.
Key things to think about are:
1: Do you want to make individual appointments or invite tenders from a multi-disciplinary team, where consultants pitch together as a team? This can be attractive if they have worked together before and there is already a good team dynamic.
2: Procure the team for the life of the project so you don’t have to re-procure key members of the team.
3: Make sure prospective team members are a comfortable fit with your organisation. Lowest cost isn’t always best value. You will be working with this team for a long time.
4: Use your Project Brief to share your vision. Interview the people who will be working on the project and make sure they have listened and understand your needs.
5: Use due diligence. Check out financial stability, take up references and talk to past clients.
6: Be clear about the scope of works within the contract. Does it cover everything you need as anything extra will be an additional cost.
Issue Four: The Project Delivery Plan
It’s time to start visualising how your project will be delivered and in what timeframe. You also need to think about how you can minimise the impact it might have on your day-to-day operation and the visitor experience. For example, if you need to close a key part of your site for the works, make them part of the visitor experience with a viewing platform or temporary interpretation and a special offer to come back and see it once complete.
1: Work closely with your stakeholders, project manager, cost manager and design team to identify potential obstacles and anything that could negatively affect delivery of the project (the Risks). Look at how you can mitigate or manage the impact effectively e.g. undertaking more investigative surveys to identify extent of decay or deterioration of building fabric or unforeseen archaeological finds.
2: Set a realistic programme – the timeline for your project. Again, work with your project manager to ensure this takes into account essential opening dates, like an historic anniversary; funding deadlines and cashflow imperatives; lead times for planning, listed building consents, procurement; internal time for decision making with Trustees and content development (curators).
3: Make sure you and your team understand the critical path – the timeline that joins all the key elements of the project together. Delay in completing a critical path item delays the whole project and inevitably costs more.
4: Always build in cost and time (AKA ‘slack’) contingency into your plan to cover both foreseeable risk and unexpected events or changes. This is not the time to be frugal the cost plan needs to start from a realistic well informed position and predict inflation and the like.
5: The risks need to be costed with fixed and variable risks included. A fixed risk is if something emerges the cost will be a defined cost e.g. a new substation and a variable risk for example is how many roof tiles will need to be replaced if any so an educated guess and a probability is applied.
6: Make sure your team understand the level of involvement required from them throughout the project’s duration – i.e. the type and number of meetings they need to actively participate in – design team meetings, client progress meetings, funder monitoring meetings, construction phase progress meetings.
7: Make sure that you have a good grip on the mandatory and statutory consents e.g. planning conditions and what has be discharged before works can commence and build those items into your plans as it can really trip you up if your contractor cannot commence work to plan.
8: Set realistic expectations for completion and opening e.g. Spring 2021 and start planning for taking over this amazing new facility or gallery. If you’ve got a VIP in mind, see if you can secure that booking now as they tend to be busy people.
Issue Five: Appointing a Contractor
The same rules apply to appointing a contractor as to the professional team: lowest cost isn’t always best value; make sure there is a good cultural fit with your organisation and interview the proposed Site Manager who you will have a lot to do with; do your due diligence, not just their financial strength but also their experience of working with the general public in museum and heritage environments and track record in safety and quality, as well as that of their proposed sub-contractors.
Tips on tendering for a main contractor
1: Project Managers and Quantity Surveyors understand the rules for competitive tendering in relation to public funding covered by regulations and protocol, so can help you avoid mistakes and legal challenge.
2: They are also great at helping you decide on the best procurement approach for your project. Design and Build construction contracts are often cost effective, but if quality and control are key drivers a Traditional or Hybrid approach may be better.
3: Spend time getting all your project information in line and don’t be afraid to delay going out to tender if it’s not fully developed – uncertainty in the design and a lack of detail is a major risk.
4: Remove as many risks associated with delivery as you can to avoid contractor risk pricing. Paying for archaeological trial pits and an asbestos survey before tendering could save significant sums and eliminate delays once on site.
5: Depending on your organisation, include for the first 12 months maintenance on key systems and plant so you don’t run into any warranty issues during the defects and liability period.
Issue Six: Construction Stage
The builders are moving in and all the time and effort that has gone into planning in the pre-construction phase is about to pay off. But don’t relax just yet, as the client you have a key role to play:
1: Get the contract in place as a matter of priority.
2: Establish a rapport and communication flow with the Site Manager so that you talk about what’s happening with the works daily – e.g. noisy activities that you need to inform visitors about and equally any events you have planned so that he/she can try to minimise disruption accordingly. Have what we call 10 and 10 meetings i.e. a brief weekly meeting with key members to make sure everyone is appraised with the next steps.
3: Make it clear that you expect to be kept informed of all significant matters in a timely way, not just at progress meetings. This transparency will make the process smoother and will reduce the number of emails and phone calls whenever a problem arises.
4: Share all the available information with the Contractor as it will help them get a real understanding of the project
5: Be part of the start up meeting and if appropriate give a short presentation to the contractor, significant subcontractors and professional team to emphasise how important this project is to you, it’ll help get buy in.
6: Beware of making even what seem like small changes at construction stage. For instance, a seemingly small change to an entrance way to improve visibility might actually require substantial structural alterations with accompanying cost implications.
7: Where change is necessary, have a formal process for change management which analyses and validates the reason for that change. As the client you should have final responsibility for agreeing change, so that means being available and making decisions in a timely manner.
8: Work with the contractor to agree a handover strategy that includes familiarisation and training for your operational team, enabling them to be confident in using the building and facilities from Day One. Ensure you have a Contractors aftercare contact and cascade telephone numbers and emails to keep in contact with the Contractor to rectify any latent faults.
9: Get ahead with you staff recruiting, training and opening strategy.
Issue Seven: Opening, Evaluation and Defects
Phew it’s all over…..oh no it’s not.
1: You need to be planning for the celebration of opening from an early stage in your project and now it’s time to roll that plan out.
2: Whilst the team is familiar with the project have a lessons learned session.
3: Put your maintenance plan into operation and make sure it is carried out. When you have a defect and the Contractor arrives the first question they will ask is, has it been maintained?
4: Approximately three months before the end of the defects period have an inspection of the works carried out and pass the list of defects to the contractor so that by the time the 12months is up the Contractor has had time to rectify them. If he doesn’t respond you have time to give them notice and get someone else in to do the works and contra charge the contractor…. hopefully it won’t get to that stage, but you need the time just in case
5: Start evaluating your project based on the benchmarking information you gathered in the project brief stage and if necessary, look to adapt things to make it work better.
6: Herald your achievement to stimulate interest and then maintain the interest by continual announcements and events.
7: Don’t forget whilst you’ve been dealing with project, somewhere along the line you were thinking about the next step change in your organisation. Time for another funding application!