See your whole project

There’s more to a building project than just the building part.

The first hurdle is psychological – to accept that you, the client, will be the central player in a dialogue with the design team and that this is not like being measured for a new suit. The extra energy and focus an organisation must generate for successful design and procurement has to originate from the people at the top and spread outwards. This will probably require new structures for collective decision taking that cut across the ‘silos’ of normal departmental responsibilities.

The scope of the task can be seen by drawing a timeline from where you are now to one year into occupation. This will probably be longer than you imagine. The front end will show all the research, benchmarking, team building, communications, consultation and decisions you will need to make before anything is designed. It will also show what will still need to be achieved after the building is occupied to actually deliver the business benefits you are seeking. Just occupying it will not guarantee the business changes you may be seeking if the necessary training is incomplete.

Allow enough time to get everyone behind the whole solution and understand their part in the process. Include the time to set up the decision making structure and the in-house project teams with the right skills to develop the brief and work with all the users and stakeholders (internal and external) who can provide input and influence the outcome. Consider the overall costs and effects that the process (not just the disruption during construction) will have on the organisation while it is happening. Consider how much time you will need to identify and address all the external risks that could emerge and influence events, as well as the internal ones.

This is your real project – management of that whole process.