Building the Right Project Team is Central Theme of Recent IFMA Program

March 2011
T3 Advisors

I recently participated on an IFMA (International Facility Management Association) panel discussion at Adobe Systems new Waltham, MA facility. The panel discussion preceded tours of the new building, and focused on innovative project delivery methodologies and how Adobe and their team of designers (ADD Inc) and managers overcame some unexpected and unique challenges in the construction and development of this unique facility.

T3’s Advisory Services practice acted as Adobe’s local owner’s rep on the project, working with both the local and corporate Adobe teams to oversee project delivery. During my discussion I focused on four key points that I felt contributed to the project’s success:

Real Estate Purchase v. Lease Strategy– Adobe’s decision to acquire the property afforded them with the flexibility to move the scheduled occupancy date up six months. This became an unanticipated benefit supporting the “purchase decision” that also included an increased brand presence, the ability to customize workplace amenities, as well as achieve a lower annual occupancy cost.

Assemble the Team Early– As owner’s rep, T3 worked closely with Adobe to assemble the project team for the project. This process jelled around a comprehensive due diligence effort that took place during the purchase negotiation. A key consideration was to redesign the approved building shell to achieve LEED certification. T3 worked with the team to adopt nine (9) “Key Objectives” that guided the project completion.IMG_2162 copy-resized-600

Build a Dynamic Communications Strategy– Another key to the project’s overall success was the constant commitment to regular and open communication channels. This included communications among the team aided by Adobe web- based technologies and a project dashboard. In addition Adobe maintained a high level of communications among the project team, the corporate team in San Jose, and the “customer” moving into the building. This was achieved through a variety of web- based tools, regular meetings, and outreach for customer input on key considerations like the workstations.

Pursue a Disposition Strategy Early– T3 worked with Adobe corporate and local resources to procure significant savings through an early termination of their existing lease. This enabled the team to move up the occupancy date by six months with savings from the disposition far exceeding the costs of accelerating the schedule.

The panel, which included Karen Snow of Adobe, Kristin Edwards from ADD Inc., Jake Chace from Suffolk Construction, and Steve Fox, from Fort Point Project Management, in addition to myself, identified a number of similar themes as well as shed light on several additional challenges. In the end, the panel echoed a similar and consistent theme- that the team was able to overcome the challenge of accelerating the occupancy date by six months through solid teamwork. This was achieved by carefully assembling the team and through early and consistent communication that helped support the synergy among team members.

IFMA is the world’s largest and most widely recognized international association for professional facility managers, supporting more than 19,000 members in 78 countries. The association’s members, represented in 124 chapters and 16 councils worldwide, manage more than 37 billion square feet of property and annually purchase more than US$100 billion in products and services. Formed in 1980, IFMA certifies facility managers, conducts research, provides educational programs, recognizes facility management certificate programs and produces World Workplace, the world’s largest facility management conference and exposition.