Mike Gorman
By Mike Gorman on September 27, 2016

Anatomy of a Close Out

Often, we pay more attention to the flash and excitement of a project’s golden-shoveled groundbreaking, or the long anticipated ribbon cutting when the client assumes occupancy of a space. But, it is the mindful Close Out Process that truly brings the hard work of a project to its fruition. If you’re not familiar with the Close Out Process in general, the American Institute of Architects presents a great overview here.

In this article, we will examine the body of this process and show you the keys needed to ensure a successful close out.

New England Construction’s 30 years of experience allows us to break down what the essential components of a Close Out are from a big picture perspective and also helps us develop tools to ensure true success on every project, regardless of its type or scope. Let’s look at the three driving points of a successful Close Out:

  • Attention to detail
  • Keeping your eyes on the clock
  • Transparent and multidirectional communication

Attention to Detail

George Malakidis, VP of Operations at NEC, suggests that, “From the very beginning of a project, you should have your eyes on the finish line.” By keeping the desired results of a project in tight focus through all stages, you ensure that you will have the details in line when you reach the Close Out Process. A “Rolling Completion List” is a great idea as you are generating a list of challenges that need to be addressed, before you even get to a client’s Punch List, which is their list of items that must be finalized. Staying organized, on the job and in the office, helps keep the important project details in line with your goals.

Keeping Your Eyes on the Clock

Attention to timing is not only important on a macro level when it comes to the overall project schedule, but it is also essential during Close Out to understand how your process and Punch Lists will affect the completion timeline. Senior Project Manager, Joe Crocker, stresses the importance of building this timeline as a team, involving not only your client, but the project architect (if applicable) and your subcontractors. Whether speaking to a Site Superintendent or a Vice President, the true importance of not letting time get away from you becomes an apparent top priority. Tacking on a few days to a project, due to mismanagement of your Close Out Process, can affect opening dates for a client and subsequent project launches for yourself and your subcontractors.

Transparent and Multidirectional Communication

As the General Contractor on a project, is important to ensure that communication between yourself, your client, all consultants (ex. Architect, engineer, OPM, etc.), and all applicable subcontractors occurs in a timely and clear fashion. This transparency prevents any surprises in any of the involved projects as the funnel tightens and the project’s end comes into sight. NEC Senior Project Engineer, Amanda Marques Callahan, has developed a Close Out Matrix (see image below) that is shared with all parties and ensures that all needed documentation for a superior Close Out is received. Joe Crocker believes that, while challenging, this level of communication helps smooth out any bumps you might encounter in the process. Strong communication with clients and subcontractors also builds strong relationships that can be helpful on future projects.


Closing Out the Close Out

In the end, a well-managed Close Out process ensures that you go above and beyond your client’s expectations and deliver a superior product. To stay competitive, it is not enough to simply deliver the promised results. By paying attention to your details, timing, and communication, you will find it possible to present them with results that will be both memorable and productive for your business.

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Published by Mike Gorman September 27, 2016
Mike Gorman