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Building a Project Team
Posted on 13 April 2013 by cpd

The other day I stumbled across this post on LinkedIn and I asked the author if he would be kind enough to allow me to share it on our blog. You will find the “moral” of the post aligns with our “NO ‘I’ in TEAM” mantra we are so deeply passionate about…read, enjoy and share!

“All too often, in the current pressures of managing a project, the concept of fully appreciating the project team as a unit is not appreciated. In my opinion, the formation of a proper project team is paramount to the success of the Project.

Where as the Project Manager manages the Project overall, the team and the individual member must work closely together as a unit. To achieve this, each member must know there place in the team, by way of a terms of reference, and each member must have a feeling of worth with their own set goals and corresponding targets to achieve measurable achievement and credit. It is paramount, therefore, that individual team members receive support and mentoring, rather than simply accountability.

Furthermore, each team member should be aware of the function of the rest of the team members, and be encouraged to assist each other, and thus assist the team in achieving a successful project conclusion.

A final criteria should be the quality of life of each member, thus one of the functions of the Project Manager is to look for team members who look to be under undue pressures and supplement these with either addition assistance or assistance through a mentoring process. All to often we find formation of a “blame” culture where by the cause and effect of any particular challenge may be overlooked as long as the “culprit” is found. This culture has a detrimental and demoralizing effect on the team, and can at times come about by poor project management as individuals have a tendency to believe their role is to protect their a** rather than achieve the teams goals.

A simple analogy is if we consider the Project Manager as a football coach, and the players as the football team. When a player is challenged the other players come to his assistance, as the team goal is to win the game. If the team players play as individuals they will rarely win a game.”

Thanks for reading! Until next time…ciao!

submitted by: S Pentleton

Changing processes because the industry hasn’t changed…
Posted on 2 December 2012 by cpd

We have been going through a number of challenges in the past few months.  From changes in our contracts to reviewing our procurement process to making new strides in partnering with key contractors.  These challenges have evolved into changes in our processes. Although I’m not against change, it’s never good for a business to become stagnant and comfortable as the competition adapts to change, we’re finding ourselves changing our processes because so many of the standard industry practices haven’t changed.

One of these challenges we face with every project is our bidding process. We adhere to the standard industry practices of maintaining a predetermined plan when it comes to bidding. The construction industry has proven this practice for many years and it goes without saying, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. When a new project comes in through various lead outlets our senior construction manager and I put it through our “5-star evaluation” (something we’ll discuss in later blogs). Once the project meets the requirements, by getting at least 4 out of 5 stars, it is placed on the bid list. This is where the project becomes a living thing in our company, a birthing point of sorts.

Our efforts quickly switch to the estimating of the project. The bulk of our projects are design-bid-build, meaning the project has been designed by an architect under a separate task order and it is now under a new task order for construction. We have designed a comprehensive bid sheet using Microsoft Excel. Although the larger project management software offers an estimating component that are very good, we feel that our database allows greater control over the bidding process and reduces risks often endured by the larger pm software.

No matter what we do, change is inevitable and much needed for success.  I look forward to sharing our changes and I hope we can be an inspiration to you to make a change.

Thanks for reading! Until next time…ciao!

submitted by: CP DeCapria
cpd@dmrbuilds.com | @318cg

We are the world, so help build it safer!
Posted on 20 April 2012 by cpd

The past few years have brought us a number of devastating disasters throughout the world; those with the greatest impact have been earthquakes. But, these have been earthquakes that have been a bit different than usual; larger and in areas not usually prone to them, like smalltown central USA and third-world economically hindered Haiti. These have triggered tidal waves, mudslides, aftershocks, etc that further devastate the areas.

Most Americans take the strength of our economy for granted. Although we are coming out of one of the lowest economic slumps in our lifetime, our economy has remained stronger than most countries and continues an uphill growth; architectural billing is up for the 5th straight month in a row. The strength of our economy (although most don’t realize) is impacted by our building codes. When a natural disaster strikes, our buildings are constructed to withstand the impact. This allows Americans to use the buildings with little reconstruction necessary and a small amount of disaster relief money is required. Commercial buildings remain open, Government continues and businesses remain open to continue to operate and earn the income that keeps employees with jobs, feeding their families and spending their money on their wants and needs.

Ok, you’ve just been briefly introduced to the cycle of life that is impacted by the building codes. Now lets look at how the lack of codes impacts an area. In a previous blog, I had touched on the pre-earthquake status of the small country of Haiti. The earthquake on 12 January 2010 is a prime example of the opposite effects brought on by the lack of proper codes. When the 7.0 magnitude quake hit, hundreds of thousands of people were lost, dead or trapped in the buildings and rubble that had become the new skyline of Port-au-Prince. The Government’s most prized building (and an iconic figure in the city) had been one of the more than 30,000 buildings and 250,000 homes destroyed; more than 3-million people of Haiti were immediately disconnected and affected by one event. But it doesn’t stop there; the hospitals and major infrastructure was destroyed. The months to follow brought more than 50 aftershocks and numerous mudslides while the rubble was being sifted for any life that could still remain. One in five jobs were lost and the cost to rebuild has been estimated to be in the billions.

Could this all be legitimately reduced through a Global Building Code? This would significantly reduce the impact of those countries (including the United States) which are caught by the evil wrath of Mother Nature. The plan would take years to build, but by placing the world’s countries on a weighted scale based on their economic status, current codes, forecasted natural risks, etc. and by utilizing the expertise of countries throughout the world, the use of agencies already in place (such as the Red Cross/Red Crescent, United Nations, USGS, USGBC/LEED, IgCC, etc) the process could be put on a fast-track schedule. Within months the program could start focusing on those countries which are deemed least developed and present the highest risk. Leveraging the experience of larger nations, the necessary codes could be developed and begin saving lives in months. This would stimulate the economies of those less fortunate countries and give those in need a chance to have the economy and lifestyles we all deserve. Rebuilding a country is not enough, we must also restructure their building codes so that the next disaster has less of an impact on the country and rebuilding is reduced.

We are very passionate about this idea and would love to be involved. If we’re fortunate enough to have captured anyone’s attention that may also share my vision, please drop me a line.

Thanks for reading! Until next time…ciao!

submitted by: CP DeCapria
cpd@dmrbuilds.com | @318cg

The first trip back in time; a bygone era still found today
Posted on 7 April 2012 by cpd

As I sat there in Enterprise AL, I realized just how fortunate I am and how much my life had turned in the past few years. In the beginning of my career, I was living in central PA as a project manager for a few different commercial and residential construction companies. None of them were huge conglomerates but, that’s just what we need right out of college.  A company that is small enough to be able to teach the young and inspired, yet big enough to teach us the true values and techniques in construction.  Sometimes I was jealous of those classmates that were about to graduate and ride on the family coat tails.  But then I realized, I was running construction projects from my dorm room my junior and senior year.  I’d go to class, work, visit sites; whatever I needed to do to feed the entrepreneur within me.  Deep inside, I knew I had the talents and knowledge to be more than what the people in my hometown were giving me.

a bygone era...still here today

Through the drive to Enterprise I had 8 hours to do a lot of thinking, pondering and exploring within. I left at 1100ct and set the GPS with the address and went off to the east. As dumb as it sounds, technology has taken over my life and I’m grateful to be living in this era. When I moved to Louisiana I set the GPS and relied solely on it. There I was, like thousands of others each day, relying on technology with absolutely no paper map to help me even if I did need it; and this trip was no different. I was very happy to see that the GPS had taken me through a part of the world I had never seen…besides on “Nick @ Nite” each evening. I was enthralled by the small towns it guided me through in Louisiana, Mississippi, and finally Alabama. There still exists the “old Main Street” towns with the small shops where everyone in town buys there things. The photos in the windows were reminiscent of those found in “Mayberry” where Aunt Bea and Gomer were often found walking. As I passed through these areas I often looked down at my GPS to make sure I was still on the correct path.

It was on one of these “Main Streets” when my “smartphone” had beeped and I suddenly realized…this is where my past, present and future may all meet. Here I was, looking at a small slice of a true southern town where technology had guided me and technology had reminded me…things really have changed but, the innocence of the past still exists. It was a moment in my life that I had actually not wanted to partake in my email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Social media was no longer in my realm of reality. I realized at this moment that my life was much different than those of the life where this town had originated…before technology was born, before I was born.

Then there are the photos and stories of the approximate 9-million people in Haiti. This is a developing country that has been devastated by poverty, corruption and poor political practices where roughly half of the population is illiterate and practices voodoo. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country’s widespread deforestation. While the economy has recovered in recent years, registering positive growth since 2005, four tropical storms in 2008 severely damaged the transportation infrastructure and agricultural sector. US economic engagement under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, passed in December 2006, has boosted apparel exports and investment by providing tariff-free access to the US. HOPE II, passed in October 2008, has further improved the export environment for the apparel sector by extending preferences to 2018; the apparel sector accounts for two-thirds of Haitian exports and nearly one-tenth of GDP. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equaling nearly a quarter of GDP and more than twice the earnings from exports. Haiti suffers from high inflation, a lack of investment because of insecurity and limited infrastructure, and a severe trade deficit. In 2005, Haiti paid its arrears to the World Bank, paving the way for reengagement with the Bank. Haiti was expecting to receive debt forgiveness for about $525 million of its debt through the Highly-Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative by mid-2009. The government relies on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability. There is currently no regular military forces – small Coast Guard; the regular Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH) – Army, Navy, and Air Force – have been demobilized but still exist on paper until or unless they are constitutionally abolished. There is no human that should endure these horrific conditions and my biggest problem I have with the “Help for Haiti” telethons is that it should not take a natural disaster of epic proportions to help these people. We are all on this Earth and should be living on it as one…not many. We should all be working to lower poverty, lower the upper class and raising education throughout! If we were successful in doing this we would raise everyone’s quality of life. In the past few months they have made great strides in rebuilding the country; but, there is still a long way to go. One major contributor to that success is Architecture for Humanity (@archforhumanity), the 13 year old dream and thriving global non-profit of Cameron Sinclair (@csinclair).

I look forward to the future but, I am grateful for the technology to remind me of the past. No matter how technology has taken over our lives we must remember:

– technology isn’t a bad thing
– we are all humans with many like us
– many more are still living without the technology we rely on and deserve these as well

Being human is nature…where we are born has dictated our future.

Thanks for reading.  Until next time…ciao!

submitted by: CP DeCapria
cpd@dmrbuilds.com | @318cg