Managing Design & Build Projects
If you’re about to start a design & build project, you’re likely wondering how best to manage your office fit out company. Your relationship with them is essential. It will go a long way to defining the success of your project.
When talking to companies at this stage of their project, however, we often find they’re unsure of how to run the project and manage their fit out company.
In this article, we’ll go through 7 crucial things you need to do to manage your office fit out contractor well. By the end, you’ll know how to effectively work with your chosen office fit out company, setting your project up for success.
1) Comprehensive Brief
If your project is to be a success, a comprehensive and well-prepared brief is essential. This means that everything your fit out company needs to know is presented in one pack – from overall project vision and goals to technical details. It’s also important that your internal team is aligned on this brief.
If you don’t have a good project brief, your fit out company will have to make a lot of guesses about your needs and goals. You will also have to make a lot of decisions without adequate preparation. As a result, you will be much more likely to make mistakes and face internal conflict during your project.
To create a comprehensive project brief, you first need to assess the current performance of your workspace and why you are doing the project. You then need to get buy-in and alignment from leadership and staff, as well as define specific project requirements. You’ll also need to collate all the necessary details about your existing space, such as drawings and systems details. To learn what needs to be in an office brief and how to create yours, read this article.
2) Rigorous Selection Process
It's important that you have a rigorous selection process to choose the office fit out company to design & build your project. If you do not choose a suitable company, it’s likely that the cost, timeframe, and/or quality will be wrong for you. A company well-suited to your needs will make your project much more successful. They'll also be much easier to manage.
First, you need a thorough due diligence process to eliminate unsuitable companies. You can then find and choose a fit out company best suited to your needs. When choosing your design & build company, it’s important to be as structured and objective as possible. A fit out company may have an amazing design portfolio, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for you.
There are 5 aspects you need to consider when choosing a design & build company. These are expertise, track record, design approach, pricing structure, and customer experience. To learn more, read How to Choose the Best Office Fit Out Company For Your Project.
3) Effective Communication
The most important aspect of managing your fit out company effectively is great communication. Great communication facilitates fast, well-informed decisions. It also reduces conflict and allows your project to be completed far quicker. If you do not communicate well with your fit out company, they will not have the information they need, and they will be kept waiting for information and decision. As a result, they will have to make decisions on your behalf, and the chances of mistakes will increase.
To avoid this, you need to establish a clear communication structure. This clarifies who is responsible for what, who is authorised to make what decisions, and what channels and when the two teams will communicate on. It may seem unnecessary to establish this upfront, but it will save a lot of time and money during the project. It will also make your project a lot less stressful.
4) Clear Accountability
Closely linked to communication is accountability. Communication is often confused with accountability, but there is a crucial difference: communication is the flow of information, while accountability is the flow of responsibility. Your fit out company needs to be fully accountable to you at every stage of the process, from initial design to aftercare. Otherwise, you won’t be well informed about the progress of your project, and you may be unable to do anything about it.
To avoid this, you should create a clear cadence of meetings with your fit out company for them to update you on project progress. They should also provide you with a detailed project programme that you can hold them to. This, combined with good communication, will mean you are well-informed about your project. You'll be able to take action to resolve any issues before they become major problems.
5) Fixed-Cost Contract
One of the biggest fears of companies as they plan their office project is mid-project cost rises. This is a valid concern – 2 in 3 construction projects finish at least 10% over budget. These cost increases can make your project very frustrating, and damage your relationship with your fit out company.
You can prevent this situation by using a fixed-cost contract for your project. This means that the fit out company cannot increase their costs mid-project. Unless something is out of scope, or you request the change, it is not chargeable. This contract method may involve higher initial costs, but it lowers overall project costs and risk. As a result, it is much easier to keep your office fit out on budget.
6) Quality Management
The quality of workmanship provided by your fit out is crucial to the success of your project. If you leave it until snagging at the end of the project, it will be a lot more time-consuming and difficult to resolve. Managing your fit out company with a proactive approach will prevent this.
You should ask your fit out company about their approach to quality management before you sign the contract. It’s especially important to ensure their subcontractors are qualified, and that they have a structured quality management process. You should also get weekly site reports and regular site visits that enable you to verify the quality of workmanship.
The final phase of your office fit out will be the handover, where they hand back control of the space to you and sign off the works. This needs to be structured and controlled, so you're able to ensure you’re fully happy with the space. Otherwise, you will be left with an office that you may not fully understand how to run.
A full official site handover meeting is essential. This involves you walking through the finished space with your fit out company and ensuring you are fully happy. They should also train you on how to use any new systems and ensure the operations & maintenance manual is updated.
Managing Your Office Fit Out Company
Managing your office fit out company effectively is crucial to the success of your project. As the one company both designing and delivering your new office, they hold the keys to success. How you keep them accountable and your relationship with them is essential. If you don’t manage your design & build company well, your project will almost certainly have inappropriate design or delivery, and/or be over time and budget.
First, you need to set your project up for success with a comprehensive brief and a rigorous selection process. Excellent communication and keeping your fit out company accountable is essential. A fixed-cost contract along with clear quality management and handover processes will provide the framework for this to happen.
Know that you know about these 7 factors, you know how to manage your office fit out company as effectively as possible. This will facilitate a good working relationship, and ensure your project is delivered on time, on brief, and on budget.
Ready to get started? Then the first step is to create an office fit out brief. You can learn how to do that here. If you want to know how to assemble your internal team, then read Who should I involve in my office fit out?