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The Preconstruction Ecosystem—Pt.3: Navigating and Reviewing Important Information and  Streamlining Communication
Steve Dell’Orto • 04 Aug 2023

The Preconstruction Ecosystem—Pt.3: Navigating and Reviewing Important Information and Streamlining Communication

A three-part series focused on identifying common processes within preconstruction.

In part one and part two of this three part series we discussed the complexity of preconstruction and the importance of scheduling and planning in the preconstruction phase. In part three we are focusing on the importance of internal and external communication as well as key documents involved in the preconstruction phase.

The preconstruction phase involves an extraordinary amount of planning and reviewing. Commitments and responsibilities are formalized through contracts and agreements between stakeholders. In order to effectively handle critical documents and properly research your project surroundings, one must understand the importance of communication. 

This series about The Preconstruction Ecosystem is meant to help identify some of the common processes within preconstruction. Below are five processes focused around navigating and reviewing important information and streamlining communication in this crucial phase.

Understanding Preconstruction Workflow Ecosystems and Best Practices

1) Preconstruction Communication (External vs. Internal)

External preconstruction communication includes the Owner, Design team and Contractor stakeholder groups. Groups involved in this communication typically meet weekly throughout the course of preconstruction to coordinate and check in on the progress and obtain decisions. The team reviews any value-engineering proposed in order to obtain decisions, set a preconstruction schedule, and gather updates for design, logistics, permitting and Subcontractor bidding. In most cases, each stakeholder brings their update in either the form of an agenda, Powerpoint or general verbal updates. 

In preconstruction meetings, significant time is spent reconciling disparate views on issue drivers, responsibilities and status due to the lack of a single source of truth. Issues are often verbally expressed, resulting in a lack of understanding in regards to the facts, the history of the issues, forecasted direction, and potential impacts. Many non-productive people hours are spent preparing static charts and reports that often do not include real-time data.

Internal preconstruction communication includes blends of different team members. Preconstruction team members are typically involved in 3-5 or more preconstruction efforts at the same time. These blended teams prefer to consult with operations personnel such as Superintendents and Project Managers who are typically on project sites—all of whom are not readily available without prior scheduling—as well as the executives in charge, who need to be briefed or included in negotiations and decision making.

Without a solid platform, remote collaboration hinders the ability to leverage the knowledge and contribution of the operations talent to help plan the schedule, logistics, phasing, staffing, etc. Without access to historical data from prior projects, new projects require a significant time commitment in order to simply keep key decision makers updated on a project’s status. This time could be far better spent if all parties had access to real-time data that was stored in a central place. 

2) Below-Grade Analysis

Below-Grade Analysis refers to the process of examining and evaluating what is below the ground level, which is especially crucial for projects with underground spaces. A project has to be planned and designed with outside factors in mind, including ground conditions, existing foundations or pipes, building codes, etc. The best project teams take the time to research the history of that plot of land and plan around what might be encountered or change the design to work around it. 

Oftentimes in preconstruction, teams will not properly plan if they do not have the information they need right at their fingertips. Improper planning can lead to major delays and the chance of running into underground fiber optics, old sewer systems, hazardous material, etc. This analysis cannot be based on assumptions, as it takes extensive research to complete.

3) Constructability Reviews

Constructability reviews are the workflows in which the Contractor reviews the design documents to identify details that are not buildable or could be constructed in a more effective way than shown. It also involves looking for dimensional issues, conflicts between elements, improved system routing, and materials specified that may not be available or cost effective. 

This process is often performed separately by the Design team as part of their design quality control and code review process and is tracked independently from the constructability review process done by the Contractor. Typically, the Design team uses PDF markup applications, which are commonly used to identify issues directly on the drawings. 

4) The Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) or Overall Construction Contract

Commonly referred to as the GMP contract, the Guaranteed Maximum Price includes the final versions and outcomes of most preconstruction workflows as exhibits or inputs to establish a baseline of responsibility. It includes the transfer of responsibility and risk to deliver the project from the Owner to the Contractor for the agreed upon scope, price and schedule. This is, most often, a singular event in which the contractual agreement is negotiated and put into effect. Typically, the GMP is established prior to the full completion of the design and the preconstruction effort will continue beyond the establishment of the GMP until all design, planning and procurement efforts are 100% complete in order to avoid surprises.

As previously mentioned, since this contract is an ongoing effort, much of the baseline information gets pulled together at the last minute creating significant exposure for market condition risk, scope errors and omissions, contractual over-exposure, insurance gaps, inconsistent design document coordination, and more. Current processes are manual, analog and ad hoc in their implementation, using tools such as Microsoft Word or Excel.

5) Qualifications & Exclusions Tracking

Qualifications and Exclusions Tracking in preconstruction involves documenting what assumptions are being made and included in the scope (if not clearly identified in the documents). It also involves qualifying items that are included but different from what is in the contract documents, and excluding items or requirements identified in the documents that are not included. These Qualifications and Exclusions originate from many sources including the General Contractor, Vendors and Subcontractors and are critical to ensure there are no misunderstandings in what is being delivered as part of the project.

This document is typically formalized at the very end of the preconstruction process as part of the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) or contract finalization. When Qualifications and Exclusions Tracking and the Estimate development process are not documented thoroughly, the General Contractor and the Owner often deal with misunderstandings or disputes. 

Summary

Because preconstruction is elaborate and complex in nature, there tends to be an incredible amount of inefficiency, with teams having to constantly revisit different, independent and informal ecosystems of workflows. The process can become very tedious and the manual effort it takes to keep up with the details can take a lot of time. 

ConCntric was founded to unite workflows, data and people to provide an unparalleled certainty of outcome and trust. Our first phase is to digitize preconstruction workflows into a collective industry best practice. Our platform focuses on the 80-90% of preconstruction practices that are common across all projects, users and companies. ConCntric helps companies achieve operational efficiency by providing a platform that helps standardize all processes, while still remaining flexible enough to accommodate the unique needs of each individual project. By digitizing and connecting all workflows involved in the preconstruction phase, data is more easily shared and leveraged which ultimately helps make for a more efficient ecosystem.

How ConCntric Helps Preconstruction Processes Succeed:

  • Preconstruction Communication—ConCntric’s platform promotes visibility and accountability within preconstruction teams. It allows you to automatically track status, responsibility and deadlines to ensure the team is functioning efficiently at all times. Using data, ConCntric creates displays and graphs, eliminating non-productive people hours spent on preparing information prior to meetings. By visually describing issues or delays, everyone is able to understand the facts, history of the issue, and forecasted direction.
  • Below-Grade Analysis—Using a platform, your team can easily manage best practices drawn from historical data that was documented from a previous project. By utilizing stored information from past projects, you can get a head start on below-grade research if the project is located in a nearby area. Not only can you draw from historical data, in ConCntric’s platform your team has the ability to share information between team members seamlessly so that important details are not overlooked.
  • Constructability Reviews—ConCntric’s platform acts as a forum for constructability reviews, where drawings can be posted for comments to be made by anyone on the team. Typically, this process is tracked in a separate excel sheet in order to document the issues identified. Currently, PDF markup applications are commonly used to identify the issues directly on the drawings. ConCntric acts as a comprehensive system, providing a combined approach of the physically marked up items but tied to a list in order to better track the status of the issues moving forward.
  • The Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) or Overall Construction Contract—ConCntric’s Foresite feature showcases a dynamic forecast of possibilities and has the ability to scenario model outcomes to drive the alignment of design and budget. Our platform supports the GMP by automatically streamlining communication between collaborative parties, ultimately making your contract better. ConCntric not only helps you create a GMP faster, but more effectively and efficiently through the use of previously collected data. 
  • Qualifications & Exclusions Tracking—ConCntric’s ForeSite feature helps document the changes to the design that are to be included in the project as part of the overall Q&E process. Our platform gives you the opportunity to implement best practices and build and maintain the GMP from the very beginning. It allows you the luxury of not waiting until the end of the process to put all of your materials for the GMP together.

This blog post is the third of our three-part series on The Preconstruction Ecosystem. To stay up to date on our latest blogs and learn more about the preconstruction process, subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.

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