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Success as an environmental consulting firm is demonstrated by the ability to provide knowledge, guidance, and effective project management for clients. This ensures that environmental regulation is not just another necessary evil, but a method for improving internal systems and prioritizing project sustainability. Producing quality results during environmental site investigations, and other projects, is the product of careful attention and planning in three key areas of environmental project management: 1) build a competent team; 2) define a project scope; and 3) maintaining compliance with budgetary requirements and project schedules.

Build a Competent Team

At the beginning of an environmental project, it is critical to select the right environmental Project Manager and support staff based on their individual skill sets and their ability to understand and solve the problem at hand. At the project kickoff meeting, these individuals identify and assess issues, opportunities, and provide opinions on best field and management processes to be employed, based upon their experience. A well-chosen team will have the appropriate experience and resource contacts (contractors, suppliers, or other external parties) to efficiently and cost-effectively run the project. A well-rounded and functional team will ensure ownership of the project and lay the groundwork for success.

Define A Project Scope

At the project kickoff meeting, the project team defines the overall scope of work and determines the processes needed to achieve defined project goals. Each member of the team is assigned specific tasks, thus defining their roles and avoiding uncertainties relative to project responsibilities. Adherence to the defined project scope is important as it will keep the team focused on their tasks without wasting time and resources. Periodic team meetings to review progress helps keep the project on track. These meetings also provide the team the opportunity to assess what might not be working and allow for flexibility to modify the plan to keep the project moving towards a successful conclusion.

Compliance Within Given Parameters

Few companies/projects have unlimited budget, so the first thing project stakeholders look to in determining whether their project was successful is the bottom line, and unchecked budget overruns are the primary reason for project failure. It is rare that an environmental project allows for much in the way of budgetary contingencies for factors outside of general control, such as changing vendor pricing, supplies, and other resources. At Broadbent, environmental compliance with budgetary requirements is aided by use of Axium’s Ajera project management software. Our environmental Project Managers regularly monitor project spend, in real time, using this software suite to track the project budget and ensure there are no surprises when it comes time to invoice the project.

Similarly, another way in which an environmental project can fail is by not meeting scheduling obligations. Missing deadlines can lead to mistrust by the client and compliance issues with regulatory agencies. This negatively affects client relationships as well as It also extends the project, causing budget overruns. This can be avoided by careful planning at the front end of the project and efficient project management during project execution. To that end, client-assigned and other software-based tools such as Microsoft Outlook and Project are utilized for building and adhering to project timelines.

Decades of company growth and success are the result of an environmental consultant’s ability to implement these project management strategies: building the right team; defining project scope, goals, and objectives; and managing resources, budgets, schedules, and outcomes. This results in delivery of quality products on time, on budget, to satisfied clients. Creating solutions and building trust.

Mark Kazelskis, Principal Geologist

Article by Mark Kazelskis, Principal Geologist.

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