Defining Program Management

When providing Program Management services, Civiltech works as an extension of our clients’ staff to deliver large-scale projects and groups of projects in the most efficient manner possible.

Municipalities and other public agencies can be responsible for delivering hundreds or even thousands of infrastructure projects each year, varying considerably in budget, scope, location, schedule requirements, coordination needs, and resource demands. To help manage these complexities, groups of related projects are often managed as programs to coordinate resources and realize goals and efficiencies above the individual project level. A project has a finite lifespan; a program typically has a multi-year timeframe corresponding to a larger capital improvement plan or recurring annual maintenance budget. Program management is coordinated project management at scale.

Civiltech’s Program Management services enable an agency to efficiently manage its available resources in order to most effectively deliver projects to its constituents.

A Holistic Perspective

An example project for a municipality may be to resurface North Street from East Avenue to West Avenue. Of course, the municipality must ensure the project is properly designed, estimated, coordinated, scheduled, and constructed. A major component of Civiltech’s program management services is to provide the needed project management and engineering support for each project.

However, program management goes beyond providing resources to manage individual projects. When viewing North Street as part of an annual street maintenance program, we are able to analyze the bigger picture. Civiltech brings the experience, tools, and expertise to answer questions such as: What is the condition of every street in the network? Which streets should be resurfaced for the next 5 years? Are any utility improvements planned in the same locations and can we coordinate schedules to eliminate duplicate work? Is our annual street maintenance budget adequate to keep the network in a state of good repair? Are there tools available to streamline our existing processes for identifying and tracking projects? Can we cut costs to deliver more projects each year within the same budget constraints? How do we measure success and report results to our constituents?

Hand-In-Hand Approach

As program managers, we function as an extension of our clients’ teams to help meet their objectives. We provide dedicated staff, often seamlessly embedded within client offices. That dedicated program management staff then pulls resources from across Civiltech’s service offerings as needed to accomplish tasks.

This tight integration allows us to understand how best to help. Our approach includes analyzing client workflows, learning pain points, and identifying inefficiencies. We then problem solve and suggest tools and process improvements to close gaps between current and potential program performance.

Tasks and Services

Our primary task is to shepherd each project through each phase of its lifecycle, from project selection to construction closeout, which may involve a range of engineering services.

Our oversight may also include management of the data systems that track projects and manage assets. Updating these tools, especially consolidating data from separate systems, can be a powerful way to realize process improvements, such as eliminating duplicate data entry, reducing human error, centralizing workflows, improving project tracking, and providing transparent reporting of program metrics. Our experience includes working with external vendors to migrate data and workflows into the cloud.

Benefits to the Agency

Program management offers an opportunity to unlock cost savings at the annual capital spend level, as process improvements can result in significant cost savings over time. A program management contract can also consolidate several services that may be separately contracted. Doing so can allow for better resource allocation and reduced management and administrative needs, lowering total annual consultant services costs.

Also, in addition to providing the engineering support needed to deliver projects, a program management contract can function as on-call support to address one-off tasks and “fire drills”.

Case Study: The C*NECT Program

C*NECT is a consultant team contracted by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to provide program management services in support of the City of Chicago’s Aldermanic Menu Program, along with other major capital improvement and annual maintenance programs. Civiltech, along with its 50/50 joint venture partner Infrastructure Engineering, Inc., is the prime consultant on this large-scale program that provides comprehensive engineering services throughout the life cycle of thousands of public way improvements across the City every year.

C*NECT supports CDOT in delivering its annual construction programs such as street and alley resurfacing, street reconstruction, alley reconstruction, viaduct rehabilitation, curb and gutter replacement, sidewalk replacement, ADA ramp construction, pedestrian safety, traffic signal modernization, and much more. C*NECT staff provide project programming, survey, cost estimating, design, construction management, IT solutions, GIS mapping, project coordination, and overall program management services.

A major goal of the team is to provide our services to CDOT at the lowest possible cost, and we strive each year to do more with less. By implementing efficient management strategies and tech savvy solutions, we have reduced consultant engineering costs by over $2 million annually.

C*NECT is a great success story for reasons beyond cost savings. CDOT is under intense pressure from elected officials to deliver improvements, and demands are continually evolving. C*NECT brings the ability for CDOT to pivot on a dime and rapidly scale up or down its capacity to deliver projects. This flexibility was indispensable after Chicago’s City Council approved a new 5-year, $3.7B capital improvement plan in November 2020.

Flexible, Collaborative, and Scalable

The C*NECT example featured here is a large program involving a consultant staff of over 100 personnel, $150 million in annual construction, and over 5,000 projects a year. But Civiltech’s flexible and collaborative services are scalable and adaptable to the needs of any public agency. Our team is able to work with clients to develop a strong understanding of an agency’s needs and craft a management program that meets the agency’s performance goals and provides efficiencies beneficial to a variety of metrics.