Facility Dude

How to Minimize Risks During Upgrade Projects

By Kate Donnelly
Oct 23, 2015

Facilities Management, Safety and Risk Management

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How to Minimize Risks During Upgrade Projects You've crunched the numbers and successfully made the pitch for a sizable equipment upgrade project. Congrats! Yet in many ways the hard work has just begun. Any time one part of the facility is undergoing extensive upgrades or repairs, it can wreak havoc on everything from work order management to planned maintenance to safety protocols. A facility manager's careful risk management—and strategic use of technology—can help minimize some of those costly disruptions and workarounds. Here's how:

Step One: Beef Up Communication

Communication mishaps can cause productivity to plummet even during normal operations. But when you have a costly, extensive project underway, clear communication between departments and workers is paramount. In fact, the Project Management Institute found that for every dollar at risk during a project, 56 percent is at jeopardy because of ineffective communications. Take a proactive approach from the outset: What meetings, notices and updates will you share with staff to explain the project scope and any necessary changes to workflow? How will everyone who's potentially impacted receive updates, if something needs to change or the project timeline is extended?

Step Two: Scrutinize the Data

One effective tool for rethinking work order management and your facility will continue its operations while some equipment is down: historical and current facility infrastructure data. That data should span everything from the age and condition of current major equipment to past operational history to the number of spare parts on hand to make minor repairs. By harnessing all of that information about the facility, you'll be better positioned to understand whether the facility can truly maintain the same levels of operation and which equipment can be maximized to pick up a larger operational load during the project.

Step Three: Update Emergency Plans

A major equipment upgrade project won't increase the risk of a hurricane hitting the facility, but if you've concentrated operations in one area it may be more likely that you'll suffer a worker injury or equipment failure. The team's response time to a crisis, injury or emergency will almost certainly take a beating if the facility's crisis plan hasn't been properly updated to reflect the current state of the infrastructure and operations. If the crisis plan isn't stored online, where the most up-to-date version can be accessed in real time by everyone, now may be the moment to reconsider how the crisis plan is distributed.

Step Four: Plan for Setbacks

An uncomfortable fact that all facility managers know: No project plan is perfect. IT projects, for instance, run over schedule 7 percent of the time and exceed the project budget 45 percent of the time, according to an analysis by McKinsey. Infrastructure projects, which often depend on inspections and permits that are hard to schedule, can easily exceed project schedules by even more. While strong project planning can help minimize overages, it's important to have contingency plans in place to address project delays. Using intelligent building devices on operating equipment, such as Facility Dude's Critical Alarm module, can make it easy to prioritize maintenance and repairs for those portions of the building's equipment that may be unusually taxed during the upgrade project.

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