By Jeff Eriks, Cambridge Companies
April 1, 2018
You have an opportunity to expand your operation … now what? Where do you start?
This initial phase, whether it is called feasibility, assessment, scoping, preliminary design or any other name, is an important piece to the project and cannot be taken lightly. You must get this right and you only have one chance to do that. No one wants to “go back to the well” for more money or miss their projected open/start date, which pushes back revenue projections and decreases ROI. Getting through this phase with the most knowledgeable team possible to help dial in the need, come up with cost-effective and efficient designs, and accurate budgets and timelines will help a project be more successful from start to finish.
The initial phase includes many different pieces that must be gathered early on and accurately. Some of the items accomplished in this phase are:
- Operational review and assessment
- Analysis of needs to determine options for expansion/new facility
- Conceptual drawings
- Conceptual schedule
- Conceptual budget
- Initial permit research
- Initial utility availability
- Existing building review/assessment
- Site environmental assessments
- Site zoning and setbacks
During this phase, as the owner, you must be able to truly analyze operations in terms of where it is today and where it is projected to be so that your project partner(s) can come up with solutions that are relevant to your immediate needs as well as considering future growth. To do this properly, the right team members should be included, allowing the right amount of time and setting aside some capital to prepare the necessary items to be used in the business case.
There are several different stakeholders/participants in this phase that have very important roles and must be included in all discussions to get the best results. Not all parties will apply to all projects. The stakeholders could consist of:
- Local Employees/Team Members
- Local Management (GM or equivalent)
- Regionally Based Management
- Corporate Team
- Designer or Design/Builder
- Financing Partner (if required)
- Local Permitting Agencies
Let’s walk through the various roles of each stakeholder. Please keep in mind that these roles are different for every organization, so I am using general terms for the purposes of this article.