What If the (Facilities) Project Program is Wrong? Part I
ad hoc Workgroup
This ad hoc Workgroup of experienced planners took on the hardest question: What if the program is wrong? No one wants to abet the Owner in building the wrong building….
- Susan Dineen
- Kevin Hickman
- Tim Lerdahl
- Steve Raasch
- Derrick Van Mell
- Mike Vascellaro
- Pete Vogel
Topic question: What if the program is wrong?
The premise: If the program’s wrong, you’ve built the wrong building. Approvals, design, real estate transactions, construction, FF&E, financing and relocation might be perfect, but is it a success if it doesn’t clearly support the Owner’s management goals?
- How many programs work well after three years?
- Why do programs fail?
- How can programming be improved?
Top 3 lessons
- An inspiring statement of purpose is essential to a good program
- The overall business case must be solid
- Owners must be helped to think about the future
Get the “Why?” right—or else
The program itself is the spreadsheet of spaces, but it should be covered by a project charter. If the charter is wrong, the program will be wrong—and you’ve built the wrong building. The charter is the Why and the program is the What.
- Success is when a 20-year-old building still feels like new
- The Owner must have a compelling vision
- The business case must be right, too.
- Put differently, one must define the problem
- Need to put short-term budget pressures into context
- Good programming can open operational insights for the Owner
- An inspiring purpose will energize the Owner’s employees and the project team
Do your homework, and make sure they do, too
- Need to understand client’s operations and processes
- Taking tours is essential, but you must provide the right examples
- Programming during COVID is challenging given changes and uncertainty
- Include fit and feasibility tests of the program
- Include FF&E in the program
Process: Ask the right questions of the right people
- Need to clarify the decision-making process
- Provide end users the “Why?” instead of asking, “What do you want?”
- Try to understand how people feel about the space
- Communicate continuously about lessons from the program and the project
- Some Owners have shorter tenure than the project duration, cutting off accountability
“Future proof” this long-term investment
- Don’t just extrapolate today’s assumptions
- Consider effects of location and site
- The infrastructure must support flexibility
- How should the program be evaluated?
The group agreed to continue to meet, to develop develop this best practice:
- The Why: Can we share/create a sample of the ideal “project charter” to show clients?
- Prep: What’s on the programming preparation checklist—for ourselves and for the client?
- Decision-making: What are top 3 questions for: Board, CEO, executives, facility managers, end users?
- “Future proofing:” What techniques in programming can deal with the uncertainties of the future?
- Evaluation: What tools or techniques can tell us if a program worked?