Scaling Proven Quality Programs to Achieve Operational Readiness

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A Walbridge and Facility Grid Case Study

(Based on a recent presentation by Chris Morgan, Vice President, Walbridge and Joe Pascal, Chief Revenue Officer, Facility Grid)

Ready to Operate? 

Building systems and equipment, specifically Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP), are a significant part of any construction project—on average representing 30% – 60% of the project budget, making them a critical factor in managing costs and schedules. On any given project, there can be hundreds or thousands of pieces of equipment that must be tracked through the lifecycle of construction, which makes getting a building “ready to operate” on time no small task. 

Ready to operate means more than just turning on the equipment. It means: 

  1. Building equipment and systems meet owner project requirements
  2. People are trained and prepared to operate the systems day one
  3. All documentation and data is ready for turnover to support ongoing operations

A Good Quality Assurance Program Needs to Scale

Success in being operationally ready on time often hinges on having a robust quality assurance program in place to identify problems before they develop into serious issues – avoiding costly delays, rework and extra expense. With every client and project unique, it is challenging to find processes and that fit and work and can be consistent across a broad range of clients, delivery systems and markets. 

Walbridge tackled this task 30 years ago when they adopted a variation of Toyota’s Kanban quality system, which they called VStart. A disciplined, step-by-step process that is visual and allows users to punch list each step. Critical information and signoffs were captured in spreadsheets. However, as more and more projects came online and increased in size and complexity, managing this proven quality process in spreadsheets was proving problematic. Visibility was limited and processes were slow. Communication was challenging and owners were taking notice. 

For example, someone would go out to the jobsite and see an Air Handling Unit. It would have a packet of multiple different colored sign-off sheets hanging off the side. The person onsite would sign the appropriate sheets, record them, go into an Excel spreadsheet, update it, make a graph and publish it in a week. It was very archaic, and information wasn’t easily shared with other team members. It was hard to see where things were at any point in time. And customers noticed. Not to mention there were multiple spreadsheets on multiple projects, with no single repository for information. 

The scale and complexity of the systems demanded that the team get better, to find another way. The VStart quality process was good, it was very good. It just needed to be able to scale to support the growth in Walbridge business. 

Walbridge Chooses Facility Grid to Scale Quality Processes

“At Walbridge, we pride ourselves on maintaining a solid process that reflects our commitment to excellence. When Facility Grid entered the picture, they didn’t just offer us a product; they listened to our needs and understood our existing workflows. They didn’t impose change; instead, they enhanced our operations, allowing us to elevate our standards of scalability, visibility and accountability,” said Chris Morgan, Vice President, Walbridge. 

Before Facility Grid, navigating through project statuses involved cumbersome paperwork and inefficiency. Now, with a simple scan of a QR code, Walbridge team members gain instant access to vital information, from shop drawings to test reports, all in real-time onsite. This enabled Walbridge to address issues promptly and transparently. 

Communication with the client base also improved as Facility Grid provides unparalleled visibility into project progress and challenges regardless of location. With clients around the globe this immediate access to information is critical. 

With Facility Grid, Walbridge has been able to streamline and standardize processes, driving adoption among teams, without encountering significant pushback. It makes their jobs easier. Now, with Facility Grid, everyone involved in the project can contribute insights and collaborate effortlessly, fostering a culture of transparency and problem-solving. 

“Facility Grid isn’t just a tool; it’s a catalyst for innovation and efficiency in our industry. We’re grateful for the partnership and the journey we’ve embarked on together. With Facility Grid, we’re not just keeping pace with the change; we’re leading the way,” said Chris Morgan, Vice President, Walbridge. 

Interested in learning more about how Walbridge scaled its quality process? Contact us.