Teamwork brings an interior to life

16 October 2019

A successful office fit out project is the culmination of the efforts of a team of suppliers that blends its skills together well. Robert Todd, Construction Manager at Tétris South Africa, believes it’s the result of teamwork, finely tuned timing and the ability to adapt to change.

The only constant is change
In a portfolio of 100 projects, I can report that only one has run according to the original plan. From conceptual phase through to final fitting stages, there will be changes in design specifications, technologies, expectations and situations, and you need to be able to flex your adaptive muscle. A changing horizon makes team synergy even more important – where one aspect is running behind, another can step in to fill the gap.

Coordination is key
It’s important that the business development and design teams connect at the beginning of a project, particularly on expectations versus what was actually agreed. Similarly, designers must conceptualise ideas together with feedback from the engineers. What this points to is a need for strong coordination to ensure seamless integration of all phases – from HVAC and electrical to dry walling and access floor installation – to maintain budget, drive your schedule and achieve project success. The more thorough the coordination and collaboration between client, designer and sub-contractors, the better the outcome.

Project timeline is important
A fair and accurate timeline – based on time, costs and resources – lends stability to a project and is integral to a transparent chain reaction of deliverables from the teams involved. A solid timeline drives a schedule of events that ensures each responsibility is met on time and in the correct work order.

Don’t ignore that contingency plan
It’s called having a Plan B and is important to protect all the players in the project from unforeseen risks as best as possible. In this case, time is an important contingency buffer, as it can keep the project on track if there are owner-requested changes or design modifications, for instance.

Work with trusted contractors
Trust and a high-quality final product go hand in hand. With a host of sub-contractors working on a project, the ability to rely on their reputation for superior workmanship is critical. This can be tricky when required to work with nominated contractors who you may have no relationship with – but then a daily phone call/weekly meeting to manage timing and delivery helps to keep the project on track. Your project is only as good as the team on the job.

Manage expectations and learn the art of negotiation
This means communicate! It’s a simple yet effective tool in managing the positive outcome of a project. A valuable project manager is someone who builds relationships with all the stakeholders involved and is flexible enough to consider alternative solutions when required. In the fit-out sector, you must be able to make mutual concessions and compromises and go beyond the call of duty if necessary. You never know when you’re going to need someone to go the extra mile to get the job done.

For seamless results, efficient and effective collaboration and communication across the project team is a prerequisite, particularly in terms of quality, time and budget.