While team members and stakeholders are likely to come and
go, the critical project constant must be the requirement document, says Barbara Rusinko, senior vice president and manager of
corporate engineering, procurement and construction functions
at construction and civil engineering company Bechtel, Houston,
“As time marches on and you want to change a design feature,
if you don’t know why engineers chose the original design, you are
introducing risk,” she says.
Managing risks from start to finish requires stakeholders and subject matter experts to stay involved each step of the way. Whether
partners were involved in the past or will step up in the future,
project managers need everyone in planning meetings to manage
risks in the present.
“If you are missing a key stakeholder in that meeting, you can be
blind to risks that might appear later,” Ms. Rusinko says.
For example, when she helped oversee a US$8 billion, six-year
project to create a liquid natural-gas plant that was completed in
2015, it was essential to have construction team members in early
meetings to evaluate risks, even though they wouldn’t be deployed
to the job site for months, she says. The project team also made sure
that initial risk planning involved workers who wouldn’t appear on
the job site for several years, including the workers who would turn
on all of the plant’s systems.
“Those are usually the last people to mobilize to the job, but some
of the risks they would identify will influence how you do engineer-
ing,” Ms. Rusinko says. “In a rush to get started, these folks are
sometimes missed in those meetings.”
It’s also tempting to push some risk evaluations to the back
burner to accommodate the demanding schedules of the busiest
team members, she says. But that’s a bad habit that can backfire.
Each time teams agree to address certain risks at the next meeting,
it increases the threat that next time never comes, Ms. Rusinko says.
“You need to sit down and talk about all risks,” she says. “There
could be a risk that might not be the highest dollar value—but if it
happens, it can have a significant impact.”
INSIST ON FULL
marches on and
you want to
change a design
feature, if you
don’t know why
design, you are
—Barbara Rusinko, Bechtel,
Houston, Texas, USA