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Project Management – ISBL Virtual Conference Q&As

Zenergi was pleased to exhibit at the ISBL Virtual Conference which took place on 9 March 2021. Our Technical Delivery Director, Craig Clarke, presented a session on ‘Adding Project Management to your many skills’, which was designed to help School Business Managers understand the risks of build and design or sustainability projects and offer tips to support them with these. It prompted lots of listener questions which we have summarised here.

How frequently should we have progress meetings?

This really varies by project. Typically on a large construction project you would have monthly progress meetings that would include the whole project team (with intermittent site meetings/inspections as necessary to facilitate the works), but on a small project that has a programme spanning 6 weeks, for example, you may want to meet weekly.

If I engage Briar/Zenergi to support me on a project, what will I still have to do and what fees will I be subject to?

We primarily deal with mechanical and electrical (M&E) works and can offer full support from concept to completion on all M&E projects. Similarly, we are able to operate in an advisory capacity only. In terms of our fees, this will vary greatly depending on the level of input that you require and could be a percentage, a fixed fee or a day rate. Where possible, we endeavour to obtain funding to support our clients and build our fees into this funding.

Is the school responsible for Health & Safety during the construction phase, even where an appointed principal designer or the main contractor has explicitly accepted this responsibility?

Yes, everyone involved in the project has a role to play in Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, or CDM for short. We will not outline the detail of all of these here, however, I would recommend you look up HSE Roles and you will find a detailed explanation of which responsibility is assigned to who, depending on whether you are the client, contractor, and so on. Regardless of whether you employ a project manager to lead the project, the school will still have a part to play in CDM regulations.

Can you provide an example of a typical project risk?

There are too many project risks to list them all. There are general project risks that could affect any project, such as poor leadership, poor cost estimating, poor planning/programming, etc. Then there are endless project specific risks that can include planning constraints, utility companies, unforeseen site constraints, etc. The Project Manager should highlight any potential risks from the offset and build in a contingency to cover any unforeseen risks.

How much of a small financial percentage should we hold at the end of a project?

This too is relative to each project but, for example, on a large construction project it would be common to have a 12-month defect period after handover and retain 2.5% of the total contract value during that period to ensure any issues are rectified promptly by the contractor.

What types of projects are notifiable to the HSE?

Typically large construction projects, but specifically projects that require 500 person days, 20 people on site simultaneously, or 30 days total to complete.

At the beginning of the session, we ran a poll asking which aspects of project management were of most interest to the audience, and ‘Creating a scope of work’ was the highest response, so we covered this area in more detail throughout the session. The session is now available to view here, and we would recommend any school currently carrying out, or considering a project, to watch it. If you would like support or advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

15 Mar 2021

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We are preferred partner and supplier to many associations including ASCL, WASBM, LASBM, BASBM, CAPSA and have been in partnership with some for over a decade. We regularly attend their conferences and give members the Positive Zenergi experience based on their needs.

Zenergi are also an approved partner with the Institute of School Business Leadership, offering ISBL members the provision of a customer service specialising in energy procurement, invoice validation and contract management.

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