Program and Design Management

Effective management of the project’s program and design goes hand in hand with cost management. Risks to the project budget that are encountered during the construction phase of a project can often be traced back to bad decisions that were made or problems that went unsolved during the design phase of a project. CPD believes that it is imperative to uncover every possible issue during early design in order to offset the risk of cost overruns or accepting compromises that reduce the quality of a project.

The most important tool for the documentation of project goals is the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR) document. The OPR is a tool used frequently in design and construction projects, which has been adapted by Capital Project Delivery to serve as a detailed summary of project requirements as well as a tool to be used in documenting project approvals for record. After CPD receives a project request, a CPD project manager will meet with the person who submitted the request to begin the task of preparing the preliminary OPR. The OPR is developed at the very outset of the project, during the Project Initiation phase. The OPR serves not only as a repository of information, but in completing the OPR, the project manager is prompted to define specific criteria that sometimes may not be considered until later in the project.

At the conclusion of Project Initiation, the OPR is submitted as part of an approval package to allow a project to proceed to its next phase. If the project does proceed, the OPR can be used as an exhibit to the RFP for A/E Services, to ensure that architects under consideration for selection are aware of all important project criteria, including budget, schedule, sustainability, and others. After Architect Selection, the OPR can be updated with the design team’s assistance and used to document the University’s approval of project design as well as updated budget and schedule information at the conclusion of each design phase.

The responsibility for oversight of program falls jointly on the shoulders of CPD and the user group. The users will inherently understand the program and their own needs better than the CPD  project manager. The project manager relies on the user group to digest the information they receive during meetings and in written or verbal communications. If the design drawings or any other documents are unclear and prevent the user from proper engagement, the users should not hesitate to request clarification from the project manager. It is the project manager’s responsibility to develop a collaborative relationship with the project’s design team, to ensure that open communication allows for questions to be answered quickly and additional documents are generated to facilitate the University’s decision‐making.

As the project’s design progresses, it will be reviewed by all user and technical groups at multiple stages. On large projects, review will include a Steering Committee and committees of the Board of Trustees. The project cost will be updated continuously, and the design adjusted accordingly. The Contingency Management Plan will be developed prior to the start of design, and will provide markers for the expected state of the budget at each milestone. The design contingency will be absorbed into the project design according to these markers as the project progresses. At the conclusion of design, the design contingency will either be exhausted, or transferred to the construction contingency.

Once construction begins, the design is considered complete, and the contingency funds are reserved for risk management. Significant design changes will not typically be entertained after the start of construction. Appropriate contingency funds will be reserved and applied to address unforeseen issues or gaps in the project’s design documents that require additional spending during construction.

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