February 24, 2017 | by Wayne Smith

Construction Close-out: Timing is Everything

The project close-out phase continues to be challenging for many project owners, managers and stakeholders. At the heart of this problem is the fact that many project managers view the execution and close-out phases in a more traditional, textbook, sequential approach wherein the entire execution phase is completed before the close-out phase is started.

In a typical construction project, this sequential phasing concept is far from reality. The execution phase of a construction project is typically composed of multiple, simultaneous tasks performed by different individuals and vendors. Each of these tasks have their own unique dependencies and varying completion times. Even a small construction project can have dozens to hundreds of unique construction activities occurring within the execution phase. In order to ensure each task is properly completed, close-out activities should be completed on the finished task before the following task is begun.

Additionally, waiting for all of these tasks to be completed before collecting and verifying close-out information is not only inefficient and costly, but will almost always result in information that is subpar and incomplete. This is especially true when dependent and sequential tasks are involved. If close-outs are not performed before moving on to a new task, it becomes very difficult to decipher and determine the root cause of project shortcomings.

In order to maximize project success, close-out should not be seen as a set tasks to be performed after the all the construction activities have been completed. In contrast, close-out should be integral to each of the construction phases. Information should be gathered and analyzed when each identified task is completed.

The documents include measurements, test reports, photos, videos, red-lined drawings, site inventories, etc. relating to the project and each piece of data is partial proof that each project task has completed as planned. These verify the project’s completion, provide evidence for final payment, and establish a history of how efficiently and effectively the project was executed. This documentation is critical to not only the construction management process, but the entire business operation.

Everyone who touches the project should understand the importance of quality close-out to submitting payments: From sub-, specialty and large contractors to your field leadership and finance administration team. This will drive all moving pieces of the project to come to a harmonious close, with the SOW verified as fulfilled and the vendors you trust content with their timely payment. The less time spent cleaning up after a past due project, the quicker you can re-focus on the next project and the next program as you plan for the future.

As the eyes, ears and safeguard for project owners, Vertex exercises a proactive project management style including closing out tasks as they are completed, rather than waiting until post-construction. This has enabled our customers to balance their books quicker and have immediate visibility into strengths and weaknesses of their project team. Most importantly: They can continue climbing higher, successful project by successful project. To learn more about our construction oversight services, click here.