Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What is a Project, Anyway?

It’s not as ridiculous a question as it may seem! I mean, sure, a dictionary definition is pretty straightforward, but a functional definition in the context of project information management is not a trivial question.

Complicating factors include:

Interaction between Common Project-Based Applications – With applications like Deltek Vision, Newforma Project Center and Revit each creating constructs referred to as a “Project”, how do you reconcile the frequently differing concepts of what constitutes a project? For example, should every Deltek Project have a corresponding Newforma Project Center Project? Is there any necessary correlation between a Deltek Project and A Newforma Project Center Project? If not, how do we assure consistency of fundamental project information?

Multi-Phase Projects – Although the concept of different phases of a project is pretty straightforward, in many cases, different phases of a project are identified as separate projects for accounting or other purposes. This confusion between the concepts of a Project and Phases of a Project can play all kinds of havoc with your project information management strategy.

Multi-Client Projects – Look at the line-up of stakeholders / clients in some everyday projects. It’s not uncommon for a given project to have 4 or 5 key stakeholders involved, sometimes with their own contracts with the facility designer. Is each of those contracts a separate project? And how do you manage facility information common across all of the stakeholders versus information developed specifically for one of those stakeholders. How does all of this affect your definition of what constitutes a project?

Confusion between Facility Name and Project Name – Often in referring to a project, we loosely use the name of the facility to refer to the project. In many cases, that’s no problem, but, similar to the confusion between phases of a project and the project itself, the confusion between Facility Name and Project Name can disrupt your project information strategy.

Naming Rights – Related to the item above, naming rights for large facilities just adds another layer of complexity, as the name of a facility might change overnight! If the name of the facility is part of the name of the project, your project designation just changed overnight, too!

Multi-Facility Projects – Sometimes, a Project encompasses consideration of multiple Facilities, say, for example, in the case of a campus master planning project. How do you differentiate the multi-facility project from the project(s) that may grow out of it for individual facilities?

See? It’s not so simple, is it? Any thoughts, reactions or wisdom that you might have to share on this topic would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Why is Newforma based in NH?

As I travel about, I am often asked, "Why was Newforma founded in New Hampshire?" The best answer I can give is shown above:

For more information, see the NH fall foliage map.

Next post - more on process enablement in the AECO industry, I promise!


Sunday, September 24, 2006

About: Making Sausage in AECO

AECO = Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owner/Operator

The industry focused on the built environment - generally, anything that we think of as being built, - not manufactured - whether it's buildings, roads, or other infrastructure

It's what I have done for the past 34 years - as a student, a practicing engineer, and as a participant in the high-tech sector. It's no exageration to say that it's my life's work....

Making sausage - you've probably heard the old saw that there are somethings that it's probably just best not to dig into HOW they're made - making sausage, being one of the prime examples.

It seems to me that the AECO industry often adopts that view of its own work processes. Many segments of our industry are remarkably adverse to deep consideration of its common work processes.

I am involved in a number of activities that have caused me to explore the process-oriented aspects of the AECO industry, as a:
  • product manager in the AECO technology business
  • entrepeneur, starting a company serving the AECO industry
  • client, watching this process at work in the design and construction of our own home*

I hope this blog will promote some interesting conversation about the AECO industry and the opportunity that exists for our industry to be transformed by deeper consideration of the processes by which buildings and other infrastructure are designed, built and operated over their lifetime.

* Until I get a chance to write a little bit about my experience as a client in the design and construction of our own home, check out "House" by Tracy Kidder.