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Public Owners Dump Disconnected Workflows…Reduce Risks, Drive Productivity

Tuesday August 4, 2015      |      By: Ashley Garcia
Poor cost management is one of the top reasons for delays and overruns on capital projects—in large part because owners and project teams rely on tools, processes and workflows that are disconnected for tracking project budgets and changes. This disconnected approach affects data integrity, creates the opportunity for duplicate data entry and human error, and limits a jurisdictions ability to forecast costs on future projects.
The answer? According to a growing number of public owners, it’s construction software implementation and the application of a centralized project management system to manage capital programs, across multiple departments and multiple funding sources.
For instance, the city of Meridian, Idaho’s fastest growing city with a population of over 75,000, faced issues with accuracy and validity of data. Until recently, project managers kept cost data in spreadsheets that were edited by multiple users. Perhaps more troubling, the city had no way to audit the spreadsheets. In a similar vein, the city’s Access-based cost tracking system did not provide an automated, time-stamped history of who had entered information for audit purposes. It also did not provide an easy way to track the evolution of costs as commitments change and invoices are paid. Today, the city relies on one centralized cost management and tracking system, which enables secure data entry and automatic tracking of changes to every contract line item. As questions arise as to why a change has occurred, city employees can access all the backup documentation and approvals. Auditors can also be given access to review the different contracts that make up the capital improvement plan, thus helping the city to meet audit and compliance requirements, while demonstrating integrity of both processes and data.
Similarly, the City of Marietta, Georgia, one of the Atlanta metropolitan area's largest suburbs with a population over 56,000, sought to enable accurate cost forecasting. A Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOT) drove the City of Marietta to reevaluate its internally-developed system and look for a system that would integrate with their accounting software. The old system relied on financial software to handle all project budgets. The City also managed invoicing, payment applications and change orders using an inefficient paper-based process that resulted in inaccurate and outdated information relayed to stakeholders and project managers. In turn, the outdated information impacted the decision-making process which resulted in project delays.
The City of Marietta’s new project management information system provides early visibility into any problems before they become irreversible. Built-in cost controls provide for an early-warning system that alerts participants of entries surpassing established limits. In addition, cost forecasting capabilities reveal potential cost overruns before it’s too late to take corrective action. 
With today’s more advanced cost management tools, facility owner/operators managing large capital programs are able to take a more proactive approach to project portfolio management—an approach that focuses on specific needs in terms of project controls, process automation, information management, and reporting.
Stay tuned for future blogs on the other four top risks that negatively impact project delivery:
1) lack of transparency
2) lack of standardization in policies/procedures
3) lack of enforcement of policies/procedures
4) incomplete information
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