Tag Archive for: Construction Project Management

project management

Disciplined | Reliable | Honest

Look, we tried to steer them away from the cliff, but sometimes the pull of cheap is just too strong. Ouch… 

Have you ever bought a tool or resource to fix a problem, only to find it takes you twice as long or costs you twice as much to complete?  Ever consider it might be because the tool or resource you used was simply ‘convenient’ or a cheap fix? Lets scale that…

One hard lesson I think we have all learned in business is that you get what you pay for (even if you didn’t pay for it).  So goes the hard lesson in commercial real estate projects.  What am I talking about?  Simple- it’s the very common assumption that certain costs are ‘hard wired’ into a commercial real estate project, and simply unavoidable, vs. ‘convenience costs’ that are viewed as a nice Cadillac service if you’ve got some extra coin to afford ‘em.

Land or property purchase? Sure, its negotiable, but you’ve actually got to put some money out there to buy it.  Property taxes? We’d highly suggest you consider those as part of the deal.  Broker fees, attorney fees, architect and engineering fees, permit fees, contractor fees, all relevant and all are critical (please don’t skip the attorneys’ fees- there’s a reason they are so expensive). 

Budgeting Project Management

I’m willing to bet once you’ve looked at your overall project line item budgets (and see that the square peg does not fit the round hole), the Project Management expenses, or even yet, Relocation Management expenses are the first to see the guillotine– am I right? They may not have wound up on the line item budget in the first place, or, an idea popped up to give the office ‘go-getter’ a real opportunity to prove themselves, yeah? 

Before this walks off in the wrong direction, we’d like to clarify something- by no means are we so naïve to state that every commercial real estate development project, tenant improvement, or commercial relocation project requires Pivotal’s services.  They don’t.  At Pivotal, we take deep pride in our principals of Disciplined/Reliable/Honest.  Our integrity is founded in honesty.  If we don’t fit, or if we cannot provide immense value to your project and business, we will tell you so.  

That being said, we will always point you in the right direction if we are not a fit, and cannot add value. 

ROI of Project Management

Pivotal Project Management can readily demonstrate how we have paid for ourselves, and then some, with every client engagement we have taken on.  Commercial real estate projects are large investments for a business and including Pivotal Project Management in your overall plan and team is simply adding a return on investment partner.  

The ‘successful formula’ in commercial real estate projects is quite simple.  It boils down to experience, time, and money.  Set the numbers aside for a moment and realistically ask yourself-

  • Do you have the experience?  This is not a simple bathroom remodel, the learning curve is very steep, the commitment is heavy, and the consequences are harsh…
  • Do you have the time?  No seriously, do you have the time to afford, and is that the best use of your time?  Do your Clients feel the same? 
  • Do you have the money?  Not the personal wealth or business financial stability, but the money needed to recover from lack of time or experience

Hiring a professional Owners Rep and Project Management firm like Pivotal is your savings tactic- not a budget sacrifice or a nice convenience if there’s a little left over.  Is your development, facility, or tenant improvement plan blowing the budget?  An experienced Owners Rep can hold the critical course and create options to succeed.  Are your General Contractor fees coming in out of line?  Getting 3 bids will not correct that- an experienced Owners Rep and PM firm will.  Think your relocation savings comes down to the lowest-cost mover?  Check out our 99:1 ratio blog and let me know if you are willing to bet cheap on your own brand.

In short (yeah, this is long)- its time to consider the value of an Owners Rep, Project Management, and Relocation Management firm like Pivotal as not just a nice convenience, its simply the best tool in the business to achieve a successful outcome.

“My business was growing at a quick rate, and I needed a larger space to run our marine composites and manufacturing operations.  We had considered using Pivotals’ project management and relo services to help with the build out and prep of the industrial space, and our subsequent relocation, but as business life goes, we felt we would have the time and capacity to attend to these needs with our own team.  In reality, we learned the value of Pivotal’s services the painful way.  The buildout process consumed MUCH more of my time than I expected or had to give, and we somehow busted our relocation budget by $100k.  My guys were tied up meeting production and repair schedules for customers, so we adopted the ‘whatever it takes’ approach to the relocation.  In hindsight and foresight, I will never try to relocate my business again without engaging a Project Management group like Pivotal- worth every penny, and we didn’t use them!”

-R. Fleming, Fleming Marine Composites


Review     Assess     Improve


The review process is a snapshot of current status, progress, issues, challenges, and contractors/vendors commitments, in comparison to the project timeline, budget, and specific outcomes.

Example: The initial assembly of project schedule shows a parallel path for remediation efforts and utility infrastructure installations. Upon continual review, a schedule collision can be forecast if further remediation needs are discovered. The assessment pillar will present options ahead of the ‘problem’ becoming a problem.

What to review? (among many others)

  • Submittals against Criteria
  • Current Spend and Burn Rate
  • Burn Rate vs. Project Schedule
  • Key Benchmarks
  • A/E/C Pay Applications

This pillar must be active throughout every project phase, and beyond delivery of space.


The assessment analyzes short and long term impacts, options, and potential outcomes based on the review – Maintain the current direction? Identifying corrective actions? Set a new direction?

Example: A change order is proposed by the GC to address a missing electrical circuit. A review serves to determine the source and responsibility of the missing circuit; an assessment serves to identify options, and, any other schedule or budget impacts this may create. Understanding the relationships, responsibilities, and contract structure between Owner, Architect, and Contractor is key to alignment.

What to assess is determined by what you review, but how to assess the information (and thus options) should always be anchored to the defined goals of the project outcome –

  • Due Diligence →Options
  • Contract Structure →Options
  • Change Orders/Logs →Options
  • Value Engineering →Options
  • OAC Meetings →Options
  • Work Product →Options

The assessment pillar keeps the driving force behind the idea aimed at the outcome.


Improvement is the active implementation of the ‘go forward’ decision- this can include efforts to maintain the current course.

Example: The assessment process has revealed significant local market rate and product differences for HVAC trades. The improvement step may be to contract a singular preferred vendor with a national reach and fixed volume pricing.  This improvement can enable greater accuracy in concept budgeting for future projects

The improvement process can help make future projects of a similar caliber more efficient and within budget.

What to improve?

  • Budget &Time/Schedule Allocation
  • Contingency Use
  • Communication Tools
  • Project Team Members
  • Field Coordination
  • Concept Budgets/Schedules

The improvement pillar is the re-start to the evolution life-cycle; review of the improvements come next.

The three project pillars (Review, Assess, Improve) hold the project phases together. The common area in which most Clients tend to fall short: Time! Many ideas and projects focus on the gross monetary requirements, but fall off the tracks due to a miscalculation, or mismanagement, of time requirements.  Every project has a proposed schedule, but failing to implement these three pillars can result in severe financial impacts or failure.

Pivotal Project Management Inc. manages the driving force of your idea to outcome by offering CRE Owner’s Representation, Program Management, and Construction Project Management Services. www.pivotalstrength.com

Pivotal Blog 3 Pillars