YOU are the Project Owner and “Pilot”: How Navigating Your Next Data Center Project with a Co-Pilot Minimizes Risk

Owners have immense pressure to deliver the most effective and efficient facilities on-time and on-budget. Consider hiring a third-party project management firm for your next data center project.

It is a start of another data center project and again, there you are, at the top of the org chart. YOU are the Owner and your name is at the top of the typical pyramid of consultants, vendors and contractors found below. As Owner, you seemingly are in command, but you know there is often a different reality.

In that reality, you are likely in the middle of a large circle of people that includes not only the consultants, vendors and contractors but also external customers; internal stakeholders; your company leadership; local officials; community groups, and often unexpected “outside parties” that may have an interest in your project. Increasingly, those last five or six are the source of the contradictions and complexities that pose true challenges to keeping the project’s outcome aligned with your organization’s goals.

This circle is certainly well known by you and your team. You know what you are doing and have successfully delivered bigger, faster projects then this project as well as smaller, fussier ones. You know the market; can anticipate the risks; can originate the processes; can manage the document flow. You certainly can manage the issues and make the decisions. You have kept past projects on track, even with the market pace heating up. However, this time, is staffing the project internally the best way to get the job done? Especially, this project?

Hiring a Project Management Consultant as Co-Pilot Makes Sense

Maybe this time, adding a project management consultant or owner’s representative makes sense. At least, it would free you up to focus on the most perplexing risks and challenges raised by the last five or six participants in your project circle. With project velocity increasing, managing that group can be a full-time job in itself. Further, these are often the source of risks that materialize randomly, like stormy weather. You have to reserve some band width to address these areas of risk, potentially leaving the rest of the project on automatic pilot. Increasingly, keeping a project on track requires two equally skilled people at the helm; a pilot and a co-pilot. You are the pilot but who will be your co-pilot? Especially if your internal org chart simply doesn’t provide for one. You simply will have to hire one from outside your organization for this critical role.

The Business Case for a Project Management Consultant

However, what is the business case for an outside consultant? When an Owner is new to the process or a project presents clear new challenges, making the business case for hiring an outside Project Consultant or For Fee Construction Manager is much easier. This business case is different. As an experienced, knowledgeable Owner, you are bringing in an outside consultant not because you need one but because a second set of eyes and hands, equal to yours, only adds to the probable success of the project. A co-pilot brings that. Obviously, there is an immediate advantage in looking for an outside consultant as a co-pilot as you can source the variety of skills and experience needed to precisely align with project complexity and workflow. When you staffed these projects internally, there were always mismatches, some large, some small, between the skills and availability of your staff and the project’s demands. Plus, the right outside firm provides the opportunity to bolster the team with short-term resources in line with the project progress and schedule. This agility afforded by an outside consultant is a definite plus.

Good Co-Pilots Take the Day-to-Day Pressure of a Project So You Can Focus on High Level Decision Making

In addition, having a capable co-pilot will allow you to delegate much of the day-to-day tasks and paperwork to a fully responsible and accountable person, freeing you to manage the more unpredictable challenges of the project. You know these day-to-day tasks are not unimportant because the role activities like submittals, RFIS; progress meeting minutes and late change orders often become the fodder for discontent and disagreements at the most unfortunate moments. It is important for someone as capable as you to keep watch over these checklist items; and make sure the project trajectory is tracking to the project plan. Moreover, there are many innovations on the horizon and emerging players in the industry. It may be helpful to bring on a co-pilot who has some prior experience here and can bring a fresh perspective your process and approach.

Without a doubt, there are literally millions of decisions that must get made in every project and this one is no exception. Even though, as Owner, you don’t need to make all the decisions; you do need to make a lot of them, and you also need to make sure the other decisions get made on time and correctly. A capable co-pilot, offering a comparable level of experience and knowledge, can not only help make decisions but manage the checklist for decision making. Especially at the beginning and end of a project when a many of the decisions related to quality are delegated to design professionals, vendors and contractors.

Certainly, in today’s high velocity, high volume marketplace for data centers, a capable co-pilot is an essential project resource. Choosing an outside consultant for this critical role gives you, as Owner, control over the capabilities, character, and contributions of this key partner.

Learn more about hiring a project consultant for your next project. Contact one of Verity’s project managers today!