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3 Ways to Ensure A Successful Project

By Kelly Christiansen, Associate, Sr. Marketing Strategist, EDAC

I used to think that once I graduated from school that I would be done with homework, tests, exams and research papers forever. I was mostly wrong. It does include research and reporting but, when it comes to architecture, strategic planning and design, it manifests itself in a much different, more engaging, satisfying way.

A few weeks ago, Al Krueger, Executive Vice President, Healthcare Practice Leader, AIA, ACHA, EDAC, presented at the Lean Construction Institute Congress alongside Jason Krueger (no relation, I know), Director of Operations for The Boldt Company’s Rochester, MN office on the powerful results from three Kahler Slater + Boldt projects. Here are the key takeaways and case studies from their presentation that will help you better understand how providing cost analysis and documenting results sets you up for future success.

1. Conduct research prior to the project

Our research prior to beginning construction on this project was a far cry from school days of locking oneself in the library and conducting an in-depth study on a topic. For our first case study in this presentation, Essentia Health’s Ashland Clinic, Kreuger articulated how we facilitated a Visioning activity to build consensus from leadership. That’s right, the research in this case was garnering the Leadership’s feedback to establish strong vision drivers that would guide the project towards the goal. Then, throughout the planning phases, the Kahler Slater Boldt team brought immediate cost analysis and feedback to leadership to help inform expedient decision making.

2. Identify the keys to success to creating a seamless, collaborative design and construction team relationship

Seamless + Collaborative = easier said than done! A great example of how we did this came from our second case study, the Western Wisconsin Health(WWH) project. Here, Jason talked about the Lean Construction practices in play including the first key to success, integrating a “Design Pull Schedule” to incorporate key decision makers. This is a collaborative process that includes those who are directly responsible for supervising the work on the project and working backwards from completion through each phase.

Two additional keys to success were using 3D modeling for design, coordination, and prefabrication and engaging MEP trade partners early to assist with design, analyzing options and 3D coordination. We had detailed planning of handoffs, project milestones and transitioning into phases. With this project’s goal of establishing a community hub for health and wellness, these keys to success did indeed work as it achieved some fantastic results (remember the exuberant feeling when you scored an A on a really big project?)

We felt that same sense of pride as WWH achieved 36% more energy efficient than required by energy code and realizes an annual energy cost savings of $96,800.00. Sure, that might not seem like a HUGE number, but over the course of 10 years, that nearly $1M! Further, the project was recently awarded LEED Certified Silver, saw a 52% increase in fitness Memberships in first year, and was completed on time even with a 2-month delay to start! TBH if every school group project had gone like this, I probably would have blogged about the success of it, too.

3. Recognize the performance measures involved in rebuilding a workflow and learn how to evaluate these metrics post occupancy

My favorite. I love numbers, metrics and data. As you can tell from above, at Kahler Slater, we set these metrics of success up front, design the project to facilitate achieving them and then measure them 6 months to a year later to see how we did! We shared this in our third case study, Essentia Health’s Spooner Clinic, where the team-based care transformation allows them to operate at a reduced provider/exam room ratio of 3:1 to 2:1 while increasing their patient panel size. AKA: smaller footprint and more patients receiving care! This is due to the integrated care team design and improved technology which:

  • Fosters better communication
  • Improves facility efficiency resulting in a decreased wait time of 2.4 minutes average from check-in to rooming
  • Offers a centralized check-out process

Lastly, having the same Architect/Construction team together on multiple projects also helps with efficiency; the team built the Spooner Clinic at a lower cost per square foot than Ashland, we recognized a savings of 5% that allowed owner to invest in other areas for the building, and we completed Spooner 1 month earlier than planned, resulting in 30-days of additional operational revenue. Of the collaboration, Karl Ruthenbeck, Staff Architect, Essentia Health said: “Keeping the Kahler Slater, Boldt team together on back-to-back Primary Care projects for Essentia Health allowed us to realize great time and cost savings. These proven partners are perpetually able to leverage the shared, working knowledge of the team; there is not a huge learning curve, which makes them efficient, collaborative, and successful in their integrated project delivery model.”

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