Sunday, April 25, 2010

Learn the Right Business Continuity Lessons the Right Way

Someone once told me that practice does not make perfect as is so often claimed, and they were correct.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  I was reminded of this recently when conducting a table top exercise to test our ability to respond to an emergency event.  In disaster response and business continuity planning it is always important that you practice the details correctly.

When faced with unusual circumstances humans quickly conduct a database search in their brain, looking for similar experiences to use as a reference point.  They then act as they did then or as they observed.  That is why training correctly is so important.  What you do in training is what you will do when the real thing happens.  For example, if your assignment is to record information and you have specific logs for that purpose then use them when training.  Do not use blank sheets of paper or a handy whiteboard.  Practice using the tools you've been given and set that mark indelibly in your brain.

There is another way to practice of course.  That is to experience an actual event without preparation beforehand.  Not the preferred way of learning in my book.  

In his new book Business Continuity Management Michael Blythe addresses questions we should all be asking ourselves in the BCP arena.

  • Did pre-crisis assessments identify risks and prioritize them appropriately?
  • Did mitigation efforts offset the damage?
  • Were managers well equipped?
  • Did they implement contingency plans?
  • What post-incident risks were not anticipated?
  • How should strategies be modified in light of this experience?
  • What tactics, training and policies need to be revised?
Personally, I would rather learn the answers the easy way, by anticipating and practicing correctly, identifying gaps and re-mediating them before being faced with a real situation.

Monday, April 19, 2010

BIM and IPD Tips to Remember

In the capital projects arena Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) are fast becoming the norm instead of the exception.  While both have been around for some time now they are reaching critical mass in terms of their acceptance.  The reasons why are obvious.  Both support shorter construction timelines and that has a direct affect on cost.  Just as importantly, both offer improved quality when done correctly (although I personally think BIM has the greater leverage here).  As an extra value, BIM provides building operators with full access to all design and specification information on day one, in a way they can actually use immediately and intuitively.  For those of you like me who have sometimes waited months to get that all elusive "Building Manual" this alone makes your mouth water.

BIM provides a complete building model, right down to the hanger inserts if you choose to take it that far, and you should.  Not only does this modeling provide collision detection before systems are fabricated, it also allows completion of shop drawings in the design process (assuming a IPD methodology where contractors are already on board). Another advantage, especially for more complicated buildings with sophisticated process systems, is the ability to operate the facility virtually before the first backhoe bites the dirt.  This allows process system operators and building operators to collaborate on maximizing facility performance and efficiency, and to conduct actual operational training where they interact with system controls exactly as they will in the new completed facility.

IPD is a project delivery method that integrates people, systems, business structures and practices into a process that collaboratively harnesses the talents and insights of all participants to optimize project results, increase value to the owner, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency through all phases of design, fabrication, and construction.  From an end-user perspective, IPD improves design team acceptance of the Owner's culture and goals.  The keys here are to find the right partners, trust in each other and make good decisions via collaboration, and to adopt fair risk sharing equations.

Here are a few tips to consider when choosing to implement BIM and IPD on your next project:
  • Conduct a process mapping exercise with all team members present
  • Also conduct a Value Stream Mapping session to identify gaps and opportunities
  • Assure that all contracts are tied to project goals with specific measurables agreed to
  • Define profit and risk sharing in the contract
  • Define allowable Change Order causes in specific language (no design, fit, or fab issues)
  • Co-locate the project team for the duration of each team member's involvement
  • Make consensus based decisions
  • Focus on process flow
  • Set target cost early and align incentives
  • Provide rapid cost input to design during the design process, not after
  • Write all agreements so that the BIM model is owned by the Owner, not the consultants

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Harvard Medical School Dashboards Energy Usage

Harvard Medical School earlier this year launched an interactive tool which displays energy consumption across its 2.5 million square feet campus in easy to interpret form. The display allows anyone with web access to visualize current energy consumption of several types, and dollarizes the consumption as well as showing its CO2 profile. See the dashboard here.