owner's representative for building owners

Why Savvy Landlords Use Project Managers

Why Savvy Landlords Use Project Managers

 

Balance office tenant needs with your best interests

Taking on a new commercial real estate tenant can be risky - especially when it comes to build-out requests and tenant improvement projects. Landlords and property managers focus on preserving the building with investments that add long-term value, while office tenants want the new space to be designed and constructed according to their vision. To balance tenant needs with your best interests, owners are wise to enlist a project management firm as their owner’s representative.

What's an owner's rep?

In a world where building owners rarely have the bandwidth to manage everything that arises during a tenant’s buildout or tenant improvement project, the owner’s rep is an independent consultant operating as an extension for the owner. Owner’s reps are hired by building owners or property managers to ensure successful project completion and protection of the landlord’s interests. Enlisted to help manage and execute design and construction, owners' reps are the liaison between the building owner and the various sub-consultants involved. As project management professionals, owner’s reps manage the scope of work and schedules across pre-design, design, construction, and post-occupancy with the building owner’s best interest in mind. They maintain control of estimated budgets and schedules, keeping the project on track and preventing cost overruns.

When should I bring a project manager on board?

Ideally, engage a project manager from the beginning so they can use their expertise to prevent issues, rather than having to solve them later on. Doing so enables the project phases come together more smoothly from planning, hiring, communicating, executing, and overseeing. As your owner’s rep, project managers determine the confines of the project, formulate a realistic budget and timeline, and provide subcontractor and vendor selections. They also manage architects, designers, engineers, and contractors. With their experience and background, they’re able to effectively translate the objectives of the creative process from designers to construction teams and vice versa.

How do owners or property managers benefit?

  1. Respond to the most critical needs—not manage every issue that arises

    Building owners have their hands full—especially in markets like the San Francisco Bay Area. Balancing time, resources, and property management duties are no easy feat, and the last thing landlords want to deal with is the fallout of a tenant DIY disaster. But owners often don’t have the time to sufficiently monitor a project from conception to completion, or they lack the expertise and experience to do so.

  2. Invest time and resources more wisely

    Enlist a project manager to be an owner’s representative to enable the owner to more wisely invest their time and energy into other projects. Project managers handle the day-to-day decision making, bring only the most important needs or project summaries to the landlord’s attention. In doing so, owners can focus on the most critical aspects that arise, rather than managing all parts of the project.

  3. Deliver projects on schedule and on budget

    An owner’s representative advocates for a building owner to deliver the project on time and on budget, to create a harmonious experience for all project team members involved. Project management firms are up to date on current codes and technologies and assemble the best project team possible, aligning with the owner’s goals. This allows the delivery of a successful project to the client from a budget and schedule standpoint while meeting expectations.

  4. Preserve long-term property value

    Bring on a project manager to help ensure the best interests of all parties are met. The building staff is alleviated from the responsibility of overseeing buildouts and renovations. PMs work to control tenant improvement allowances, costs, and ensure alignment with building rules and standards. Streamlining these processes mitigates surprises. This means tenants can move into office spaces more quickly, and owners can begin leasing the property sooner—a win-win. And with a project manager as an owner’s rep, the owner can rest easy knowing the balance between long-term value and immediate tenant needs is being maintained.

Ready to bridge the gap between tenant and owner? We want to help! Built on more than 20 years of experience representing both tenants and building owners, our success lies in our deft project managers and the partner relationships we’ve built on. We cover all project needs from design to construction. For your next project simplified, contact The Bridge Group for your complimentary consultation.


VR virtual reality and AR augmented reality

Construction project management in the digital (or modern) age

Construction Project Management in the Digital (or Modern) Age

 

The tools ushering in a new era of PM for the AEC industry

Surprising and delighting your clients can be a great thing. Whether it's a handwritten thank you note, an innovative solution to their problem, or a design project completed under budget. But for anyone who works in the AEC industry knows, you don’t want surprises in a construction project. However, they happen, and too often. Whether it’s the rising cost of building materials, errors or omissions in design documents, or differing site conditions, surprises on a construction site mean costly delays. Fortunately, today’s tools and processes help us eliminate construction project surprises like never before.

Construction Project Management Tools Changing the Game

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Technical industries are changing rapidly, and the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry is no exception. The most impactful change as of late is the widespread adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflows. BIM is a 3D model-based process that gives AEC professionals the visibility and best practices to expertly manage construction projects from start to finish. Architects have been using BIM since the 90s, but in recent years contractors and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing consultants have adopted the workflow as well.

The clear snapshot enabled by BIM gives architects, engineers, and contractors the insight and tools to prevent setbacks and strategize building methods before the job site opens. For instance, complete BIM models can run “clash detection” to automatically flag any conflicting trades like plumbing lines overlapping mechanical ducts.  Additionally, the common lexicon of BIM means all of the trades speak the same language, decreasing the miscommunication that can quickly derail construction projects. With all the relevant players in construction on the same page with BIM, we’re getting complete digital models of projects that were previously inaccessible.

3D Scanning

3D scanning is another technology quickly securing its place in construction project management. Originally used for existing space surveys, 3D scanners are now producing highly accurate as-built dimensions. These scans avoid the potential errors of analog measurements like marked up drawings.  Those errors would mean expensive change orders during the construction phase. Another benefit of 3D scanning is the technology’s ability to record the changes of a building that were not previously incorporated into complete, up-to-date drawing sets.

Less expensive and easier to use than ever, 3D scanning devices tie directly to BIM models for a fluid transfer of accurate data to create precise digital models. Time is saved by skipping the step of translating analog measurements to a digital format, and 3D scanning produces a complete picture of the environment that is exact enough to build from.

Augmented Reality (AR)

If you’ve used a Snapchat filter, you know how fun AR can be. But the same digital canvas overlay is quickly becoming the go-to tool for bringing designs to life. Virtual reality (VR) and time-tested renderings are good for a representation of a project, but AR is the clear winner when it comes to visualizing future-built conditions and projecting a tangible sense of space for clients.

The benefit of augmented reality is having that tangible sense of space.

And with iOS and Android heavily investing in smartphones with AR capabilities, AEC professionals can view and export richly detailed AR models with ease. The use of AR for “x-ray” vision capabilities is also rising. Using tablets or smartphones, facilities teams can understand what plumbing lines, conduits, or columns lurk behind walls and ceilings by holding the device to a specific area.

Data

One of the most valuable technologies available today also happens to be one of the least tangible—data. Data is streaming in from all aspects of our lives, including the spaces we inhabit. Sensors can now provide insight as to how spaces are being used by tracking individuals as they move through a space. Data show teams what areas could better perform with HVAC, identify zones that are underutilized, and forecast better methods for conserving energy.

This information together with temperature, location, and acoustics tells a story that can be used to shape spaces and functions, much like having a suit tailored to fit perfectly.

Facing Forward with Construction Project Management

It’s an exciting time to work in construction project management. The tools and processes available today are changing the dynamic AEC industry. Highly collaborative processes like BIM are encouraging fluency amongst trades like never before, while 3D scanning and big data are giving us access to huge pools of information. What remains to be seen is what we will do with it all.

Whether you’re a seasoned architect, facility manager, or industry newbie, we want to hear from you. Comment below and let us know what tools and processes you’re most excited about today and in the future.


Seeking Bay Area office space? Here’s what startups need to know

Seeking Bay Area office space?
Here’s what startups need to know

San Francisco office rents remain scarce and fueled by continued growth of tech companies charged by capital raised IPOs

Why a project management firm is essential in your search

Home to tech titans like Google, Apple, and Facebook, California currently ranks as the number one state millennials are moving to. The San Francisco Bay Area is an especially key destination for these educated, mostly mobile workers. Not only Gen Y seek great food and countless outdoor activities the Bay Area offers but also proximity to success stories in the tech world, like Slack’s recent IPO and hotly anticipated public debuts from the likes of Postmates and Airbnb.

Top 10 U.S. cities for startups and entrepreneurs. Infographic by Business.org

 

When it comes to office space, though, demand outpaces supply right now. Startups moving to the Bay Area will have to navigate a rather crunched market — but it’s by no means impossible.

 

We spoke with Robert Tasker, CEO and Principal at CM Commercial Real Estate in San Francisco, who offered some advice for this competitive and saturated tenant leasing market. For entrepreneurs/startups and tenants seeking to relocate to or within the Bay Area, here are some key questions to consider during your search.

1. What does a typical Bay Area office need?

Thanks to pioneering tech companies like Apple, Google, and Salesforce changing expectations, offices today need to be more than just a place where employees sit at desks. Companies moving to the Bay Area or relocating their offices need to evolve and redefine their office for various workstyles and shared open spaces to encourage cross-functional collaboration and creativity.

Even traditional industries, such as law and the financial sectors, are recognizing that today’s offices need to not just foster individual productivity but also serve as spaces to hold meetings and events, and be able to expand down the road as the company attracts more talent. In short, companies today need to be looking for space that is adaptable to the rapidly changing needs of the business world.

2. How can a project management firm improve my search?

Once potential office spaces are shortlisted with your broker, engaging a project manager to help evaluate the properties from a constructability standpoint is to your advantage. Enlisting a PM firm can streamline the process in budgeting your space for buildouts or designing effective open office layouts. An experienced PM firm can help assemble a tenant’s budget, keep it under control and review vendor proposals and suggest cost effective strategies.

Together with your broker, a project manager will tailor your office search around your specific needs as a company: how much square footage you’ll need to accommodate future growth, the ratio of public to private spaces in the office, number of conference rooms, and the level of amenities you should be offering, including onsite food options, wellness rooms, bike storage, and micro-kitchens. These are all part of work-life integration millennials now expect. Unlike an architect or interior designer, who has one specific focus, PM teams are experts in factoring all details into an office search while still keeping your move within budget.  

The right space is crucial for attracting and retaining new talent and staying ahead of the competition. Partnering with the right commercial real estate broker and enlisting an experienced project management firm can simplify the tenant leasing process.

3. Where can a new company find affordable Bay Area options?

Sure, the San Francisco Bay Area can be a challenging leasing market to penetrate, but working with an experienced broker alongside a project management firm can uncover quite a few more options than might first be obvious.

For example, CM Commercial analyzes market data on local brokers, landlords, and resources to help clients find office space. Startups who need to move into a space quickly but not lock themselves into a long-term lease might consider an interim solution like a sublease, coworking space or direct space that is ready to go without major tenant improvement work. CM Commercial helps companies find these options quickly because they closely track the market and advise tenants to evaluate all possible options for their business.

4. Coworking or traditional office space?

Flex working is a top demand among Millennials and Gen X employees, and often companies turn to coworking spaces as affordable ways to provide it. Right now, the flexible workspace market is expected to represent 30 percent of all offices by 2030, and San Francisco has the most coworking spaces per capita in the United States.

According to Robert Tasker, coworking isn’t the only way to provide flexible work and typically is not the least expensive option. Coworking companies build the price of improvements to the space into tenants’ rent. In an overpriced market such as the SF Bay Area, this can actually end up costing the company more than they would incur with a traditional office lease. Again, it depends on the company, its headcount, and plans for the future, but it’s important to understand the economics behind coworking spaces before you settle into any long-term arrangement with one.

Make no mistake, the SF Bay Area office market is a complex, intricate market to navigate when you’re a startup or seeking to move. Partnering with the right team during the leasing process can uncover a whole new world of options you might not have even realized existed.

Begin your search for your company’s new office space in the City by the Bay today.

 

Thank you to Robert Tasker of CM Commercial Real Estate for his valuable input on this piece.


Project management LEAN process

Toyota’s LEAN process provides a blueprint for successful project management

Toyota’s LEAN process provides a blueprint for successful project management

Project management LEAN process

Designing the process is the most valuable driver of the project

A few years ago, I learned about The Toyota Way, the codified methodology employed by one of the world’s leading car manufacturers. This entailed speeding their process, building quality into systems, eliminating costs associated with waste and sustaining a cultural mindset for continuous improvement.  When amplified to consider the complete value stream, this process is referred to as LEAN - the “secret sauce” that maintains Toyota’s speed to market and exemplary profit margins.

Doing things right

Successful project management has been defined traditionally as doing two things right: delivering on time and staying on budget. However, today’s design and construction market require project managers to execute transformative ideas with the same kind of expediency and exactness in order to help clients achieve a competitive advantage.

LEAN - Process

The healthcare construction industry has well-established organizational, operational and contractual structures for implementing LEAN. These initiatives focus on removing non-value-add steps, facilitating flow and working to establish a cadence that matches production to need in order to minimize delay and waste. When considering a design/construction project work plan, LEAN manifests itself in a few ways. It focuses on continuous improvement: defining value, inviting the right expertise at formative stages, guiding the process for making well-informed decisions, working efficiently as a team, and executing in the field. No project is too large or small to benefit from the rigor of and clarity of purpose that LEAN offers.

LEAN - Design

At WRNS Studio, we continually seek ways to practice the key principles of LEAN in service of design that delivers on economic, social, and environmental performance goals. Research is integral to our launch—we engage in critical inquiry, disciplining ourselves to avoid presuming we have the right answers (just better questions), and learning from previous projects. In the world of expediency and exactness, design explorations may be perceived as antithetical to traditional project success metrics. Therefore, designing a process in which this exploration is tied to value—especially when transformative work is expected—is perhaps our most important responsibility.

LEAN - Practice

Dynamic calendar of time and resources implementing the LEAN process.
Lilian Asperin, Partner & Architect at WRNS Studio, using a dynamic calendar of time and resources implementing the LEAN process.

 

The key to realizing successful LEAN delivery is an engaged and collaborative team.

Dynamic Calendar - Develop a visual map of time and resources – keep it analog! Identify key deliverables and engage with the entire team to arrive at (and commit to) a sequence or flow for the work. Carve out time to iterate and space to think.

 

Gathering, Synthesis and Reporting - Structure efforts with three distinct parts, all of which build upon each other. Share progress with your extended team to build accountability regarding inclusivity with stakeholders and fidelity to decisions made so that the next steps can then follow.

Doing the right things

It’s exciting to think about evolving the concept of project management to one of process leadership. As we move forward in our delivery of projects that realize the highest value and efficiency, it is important to define value holistically.  Assembling teams comprised of talent across disciplines, encouraging staff to enjoy fulfilling lives via flexible schedules (which we can build into the dynamic calendar), and evolving criteria for project success and methodology are imperatives!

We'd love to hear if and how you've applied the LEAN process and principles in successfully managing your projects. Share your experience in the comments.

 

Guest blog by Lilian Asperin, AIA, LEED AP, BD+C Partner at WRNS Studio, San Francisco


Project management skills to help you transcend borders when working abroad

Project Management Skills to Transcend Borders When Working Abroad

You'll translate a lot more than words when you work internationally

For as global as we’ve become in this day and age, there are still big changes you have to face when you work abroad especially when it comes to customs, language, currency, and other pieces of local life.

This doesn’t have to be overwhelming. A little extra prep before you arrive can enhance both your project and your time spent on international ground.

With that in mind, here’s a list of tips to keep handy when you’re project managing abroad:

  1. Engage with your new team immediately

If you can, choose team members in the new country before the start of the actual project. If you don’t get to choose, at least familiarize yourself with names and job titles beforehand.

The best way to do this is to visit the new country in advance of the project and hold a team meeting. This way you can set expectations, whether they’re around maintaining the project budget or ensuring the project site meets governmental or environmental regulations.

If you alone are “the team,” it’s still useful to learn who else will be working on the site and connect with them.

  1. Get familiar with local customs and culture

Find out what’s normal in your new culture’s business. Understand dress code, the most acceptable greetings, and subtle changes like whether or not to small talk at meetings and how you address others in the room when it’s time to make a decision.

Learn the language — or at least the basics. These signals respect to your team and colleagues since you took the time to learn some of their language, and it’s also just practical. Nowadays, apps and other software programs will walk you through basic greetings and questions, and even help you practice speaking the words.

  1. Adjust your thinking to local metrics, currency, and time

It’s crucial to understand local currency. If the budget is in something other than U.S. dollars, get a currency converting app so you can translate the numbers in real time — which you’ll probably have to do at more than one meeting.

Same goes for measuring systems. Do the drawings for the new site use the metric or imperial system? If it’s metric, do you know how to quickly convert meters to feet?

Also, be aware of time differences. Your smartphone’s clock feature makes it easy to see the time in just about any place in the world, so use it as a resource if you’re unsure what time it is back home; you don’t want to schedule a meeting that lands in the middle of the night for someone else.

  1. Be picky about your technology.

Technology can make working abroad easier, but there’s a right and wrong way to use it.

For example, with video conferencing, sound quality is an issue anywhere; it can get worse when there’s a language barrier in play, so ask yourself if a meeting really warrants video. Meanwhile, social media messaging and other forms of text-based communication are also tricky when they start crossing cultural boundaries; words easily get lost in translation — literally — and can slow a project down.

Everyone on the project — back home and abroad — should use the same cloud-based collaboration tools, to cut down on confusion. Microsoft, Google, and IBM all offer their own productivity platforms. Find one that best serves every country involved in the project. Here’s another good resource for online collaboration tools.

Preparing for international work is a bit like packing a bag: you’ll need certain things for certain settings, and planning ahead is the best way to ensure you haven’t missed something you might need. The extra prep could also save you the frustration of an unwelcome surprise at the last minute. If you’re lucky, your thoroughness may even get you closer to an earlier completion date or reduced budget.

How do you prepare for work on international projects? Share your thoughts below.

 

 

 

 

 


6 Strategies To Integrate Technology Into Your Project Management Process

6 Strategies To Integrate Technology Into Your Project Management Process

Technology can’t save your project— but these tips can help you work better

by Nick Suarez, Sr. Project Manager

How often do you create a great project plan, but fall short when the time comes to keep track of all the moving pieces?

Managing projects with only a calendar and a pen can be difficult even for the best project manager. With the help of tools like Smartsheets and Plan Grid, I was able to manage my time, communicate with clients, vendors, and contractors, and store all of my documents in one location.

Still, just having the tool isn’t enough: you have to create processes and workflows that include these tools in a meaningful way. These six strategies can help you merge your existing work methods with a few of the tools I’ve found most useful so you can finish projects on time and within budget.

Use Conditional Formatting

Many project management platforms will automatically highlight tasks in yellow (due soon) or red (overdue), so you can quickly see what you need to focus on next.

Set up Reminders and Alerts

Even if you’re not the forgetful type, reminders can keep you on track by bringing tasks that need to be completed soon to your attention.

Incorporate a Client/Vendor Dashboard

We all know how important it is to keep clients and vendors in the know. Instead of sending frequent update emails, many types of software let you automatically update them in one central location.

Take Advantage of a Centralized Repository

Instead of having documents scattered across your computer’s hard drive, upload them into your project management platform so you have everything all in one place.

Pull Data From Your Email

Connecting your project management software to your email inbox helps you keep track of all project communication in one place.

Stay on Top of Your Budget

The Bridge Group LLC, San Francisco, commercial project construction management, real estate services, facilities consulting, owner’s representativeFinancial reporting features make it simple to see how well you’re sticking to your client’s budget without needing to crunch the numbers by hand.

How do you use project management software to keep your projects running smoothly? I’d love to hear your strategies in the comments section!