Project ReAlignment

When does Project ReAlignment apply?

If a project is off track and going the wrong direction - put it back on track! Everyone knows when a job is going badly. People see the train wreck coming. If the project looks like and smells like it is in trouble, odds are: It's in trouble. The question is, can we do something about it and turn the job around, starting today? Who is going to take the leadership in turning the project around? Project ReAlignment is a process that takes diverse organizations and re-aligns their interests, systems and resources to get a project back on track. To do this, the project team must agree to meet for a strategic meeting to assess the project risks and the available options.

Turn around projects when it becomes evident that the project is:
On the way to schedule delays

  • Going over budget
  • Embroiled in disagreements on what's in or out of the contract scope
  • Increasing documentation - It looks like you're headed for claims
  • People are contacting their attorneys (or they are involved)

What are the signposts of trouble?
Poor or Unapproved CPM Schedules

  • Time Extensions Are Not Processed
  • Change Requests Are Not Processed
  • Submittal Approvals Are Behind
  • RFI Turn-Around Times Are Slow
  • Submittals Are Late or Incomplete
  • Major Unforeseen Conditions
  • Out of Sequence Work
  • Stops and Starts
  • Mobs/De-Mobs
  • Nitpicking Contract Provisions
  • Posturing & Unreasonableness
  • Answer Shopping
  • Finger Pointing
  • Blame Shifting
  • Written-vs.-Verbal Communication
  • A Party Wants Indemnity
  • A Party Has Claim Consultant
  • A Party Has Attorney Involved
  • Bonding Company is Notified/Involved
  • Subs Have Cash Flow problems
  • Attitudes Shift Adversarial - CYA

How is it done?

Phase One: Time Out
The project's executives call a one-day "time out" to consider the status of the project. The project executives (owner, designer, prime contractor and major subcontractors) and their project managers are gathered together to assess the current status of the project, define the extent of the existing problems and explore alternatives to litigation and arbitration. Various Re-Alignment methodologies are discussed with the goal being to achieve an economical, effective agreement within sixty days and for a fraction of the anticipated battle costs. The Executive Team is called upon to make a GO/NO-GO decision as to whether to accept the status quo or explore alternatives.

Phase Two: The Action Plan
If the Executive Team chooses to explore a better course of action, in a separate session the ReAlignment Group's facilitator works with the Project Manager Team to devise a recovery plan, which is proposed to the Executive Team in a follow-up session for a second GO/NO-GO decision.

Part of the ReAlignment plan involves assessing barriers to recovery: what could keep the group from achieving the goal of ReAlignment. One typical barrier is the cluster of unresolved disputes between the parties. "The Slate" of delays, cash flow interruptions and general bad feelings which have accumulated during the festering of the disputes must be corrected quickly and efficiently. The ReAlignment process has a methodology to Wipe the Slate Clean™ - so unique a business process patent is pending.

Phase Three: Preliminary Assessment
Through the ReAlignment Group the parties retain an Independent Project Advisor ("IPA", a distinguished third-party construction attorney dealing primarily with issues of entitlement and interpretation) and one or more forensics experts (dealing both with entitlement and quantum) to represent all of the parties to the dispute, in effect, to represent "the project", equally, fairly and without bias. The costs for these services are split among the warring parties: typically the owner, the general contractor, and possibly several subcontractors. Mediation confidentiality laws usually allow broad and deep data gathering without fear that party input will be used against them in a subsequent court action or arbitration. Usually within two weeks the IPA and forensics experts meet with the Executive Team and PM Team for a Preliminary Assessment--a quick look at the facts of the case and the likely outcome. The IPA provides independent analysis to allow the team to move away from entrenched positions. The parties still have their own legal counsel and often have their own expert, but everyone works from the factual report and analysis by the Project's forensics team and Independent Project Advisor.

Phase Four: Preliminary Analysis
The parties review and comment on the PA, leading to a fuller gathering of data and analysis by the IPA and forensics team--usually accomplished within another four weeks. Because the parties are working under the change order process, this "Preliminary Analysis" becomes industrial strength change order backup. Through it, parties approach settlement with greater confidence in the neutrality of the data and the interpretations (two things that tend to keep parties at bay in any dispute).

What are the benefits?
The method works even on very large projects with strongly adversarial parties deeply entrenched in their positions. The process generates a number of benefits.

  • A separate team (1) avoids ties to past positions and allows a fresh look at the issues, while (2) providing resources to complete the analysis within a short time period (45 to 60 days on average projects, and 90 days on extremely large or complex projects).
  • The ReAlignment Group's team building effort with the executives from each of the organizations is key to success. It reduces the influence of any single obstructive party, so that the Executive Team can move forward together and it brings the decision makers to the table.
  • If new problems are encountered during later phases, the executive team has the skill set to maintain the project momentum by preventing the project managers or field supervisors from derailing the process.
  • The IPA eliminates unrealistic legal posturing by informing the parties' counsel about the 'facts of life' in construction law.
  • The contractor and subcontractors are paid current eliminating financial pressure on the subcontractors preventing further delay or the poisoning of relationships.
  • The process allows the parties to Wipe the Slate Clean™ and resume working together as a team to complete the project without the animosity of unresolved conflict.
  • Using the Change Order process instead of the Claims procedure simplifies contract administration and reduces the possibility of unfavorable publicity.
  • Coaching is available to assist those parties with dysfunctional attitudes or work habits in correcting their behavior and improving their performance and contribution to the team effort.
  • The cost to the parties is a fraction of the cost to carry the claim through to final adjudication.
  • Only one set of experts is retained eliminating the disorder caused by the hiring of individual experts for each party. In addition, the cost is split by multiple parties so that the each party's cost is relatively minor, especially compared to the savings.
  • The most important savings are clear-cut; a troubled project is back on track within 45 to 60 days with continuing delays and cost impacts replaced by timely, economical progress.