Program management saves city time, money

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In 1999, Colorado Springs residents voted to approve $88 million in bonds to finance 29 capital improvements, including projects related to safety, transportation, storm water, parks, public facilities and other community enhancements.

The Springs Community Improvement Program was scheduled to be completed in three years.

City Engineer Gary Haynes evaluated the magnitude and scheduling requirements of completing the projects on time and within budget, and determined his staff did not have the time to hire multiple consultants and contractors for each project. He also considered the constraints of hiring a large number of in-house staff for a program of such short duration, and the effort required to train temporary staff, including the risk of variable and unknown performance capabilities of new hires.

His solution was to hire Nolte Associates to initiate a program management plan on 10 of the projects.

Nolte has developed custom software that enables its clients to track and monitor budgets, schedules and project delivery. Nolte’s Program Management system provides access to information from multiple sources and creates a shared project vision that provides the company’s clients with decision support and communication systems. Nolte directed each project, hiring the design consultants, overseeing public involvement, meetings, coordinating with city departments, hiring contractors and managing the construction inspection process.

The city engineering staff arranged for Nolte Associates to have an office in the downtown Independence Building. The company assigned three full-time staff members – John Tracy, Rosemary Dicks and Steve Behrens – to coordinate the 10 Springs Community Improvement Program projects.

Nolte’s role was to function as an extension of the city’s staff, reporting to Haynes and coordinating with his staff on matters of city specifications, regulations and internal procedures.

“Hiring the consultants to work on the various projects was the easiest part of the project,” said Behrens, a program manager and civil engineer. “Having our team members’ full attention to the 10 projects, we were able to keep ahead of things. The difficult aspects of the projects included working with the utilities, environmental issues and right of ways. That was a big portion of our effort.”

Common construction-related problems were addressed and resolved by the program management team in collaboration with city staff.

Nolte’s staff established a community-needs priority ranking system for the projects. Factors used to prioritize projects included immediate community impact, public safety, engineering complexity, traffic flow and funding.

Ken Sampley, the city’s storm water engineering manager, agrees that the projects were too large for the city engineering staff to handle. Sampley said Nolte Associates’ staff members “were very efficient at assisting as an extension of our staff. Nolte is a well-established local company with a lot of local contacts and experience, and that really helped in these projects. They were very good at getting the programs established, and kept track of everything.”

Nolte’s Project Delivery Management System was used to track the status of the projects. This system includes project delivery schedules, funding applications, contractor payments and the status of design, construction and approvals on all projects.

Project schedules were monitored and adjusted to accommodate right-of-way acquisition, utility relocations and upgrades, environmental constraints and clearances and design/construction requirements of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

All 10 projects were completed on or ahead of schedule and the city was able to realize a financial benefit by leveraging project savings and managing revenue streams. Nolte Associates received a $2 million fee for its services.

Partnership arrangements were formed with private utilities, private land developers, and state and federal agencies, which enhanced the scope of several projects, including the Interstate 25/Woodmen Road interchange, Rusina Road construction, drainage projects throughout the city, parks and recreation projects, and citywide public safety concerns.

- Jan.Mowle@csbj.com