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FE&SEditorial Archives2003April — Consultant's Viewpoint

Effective Coordination Determines Project Success

Mark Romano

Vice President
Lindenhurst, N.Y.

I have been involved with many types of foodservice projects, large and small, simple and complicated. One factor has chiefly determined the success or failure of those projects - the ability of the project team to work together effectively. You can have a team composed of the top people in their fields, working on the most prestigious of properties but if they are not effectively coordinated, you are headed for change orders and increased costs.

As foodservice consultants, we are sometimes relegated to secondary status by the architectural/engineering (A/E) team and put in a position where we are working with criteria established before we are asked to begin our participation. In such cases, the project has already developed a momentum of its own, and it is difficult for a consultant to manage and coordinate the communication process. That's why it is up to us to prevent this from happening by educating our clients early on about the complexity of the task they are about to undertake. Even the smallest foodservice operations are likely to be the most intensely engineered spaces in any building, involving almost every trade on each project. Success ultimately depends on effective coordination of every member of the project team.

Consultants are aware of what it takes to coordinate the A/E and construction teams, but we often neglect the most important element ... the facility team.

In reality, on most projects there are three teams that consultants must coordinate: a facility team, the A/E team and a construction team. Each has its unique dynamics and must coordinate effectively with the others. Consultants are aware of what it takes to coordinate the A/E and construction teams and they gear their efforts in terms of documentation and arranging meetings to that end, but we often neglect the most important element ... the facility team. Aside from sending some questionnaires and our documentation to them for approval, we often have less involvement with the facility team than we should. It is important to involve them early on in any project because, in the end, the other teams will take their cues from them. Consultants' professionalism, commitment to excellence and, above all, clear goals will be reflected in the performance of all project team members.

A facility team is typically made up of many people, each with their own priorities and vision for their project. An experienced consultant is perhaps the only member of the project team who understands the language and unique viewpoint of all team members. Therefore, it is up to us to act as translators between such diverse professionals as senior managers, facility managers, facility engineer, maintenance personnel, foodservice director/contract manager, production manager, dietitian and user groups. If we are brought onboard early enough, a consultant along with the architect can assist the facility team in preparing a clear program document that will satisfy the needs of each project partner while meeting budgetary and constructability requirements and providing the ability to verify project results during each phase of work.

In today's economic climate, keeping abreast of new developments in equipment technology and the ever-growing consumer awareness of quality foods, poses the challenging task to foodservice consultants of bringing the needs of our clients in line with budgetary and space constraints. Only by getting in early and coordinating effectively with the three teams ... facility, A/E and construction ... can we develop the kind of teamwork required to get over these hurdles and ensure that our projects comes in on time and on budget.

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