Studies & Assessments

Most major programs require approval by a governing board or authority. Prior to the approval of the expenditure of funds, the governing board will require the concept be clearly articulated in the form a study. Luster conducts studies with assessments on a variety of subjects. Our work product is dynamic, brief, and captures all of the cogent points a governing board requires to make a timely and accurate decision.

 

Schedule Assessments

A cost loaded Critical Path Method (CPM) schedule is the centerpiece to the control of a project. The schedule establishes a reasonable set of expectations, identifies measures and milestones, sequences major phases, coordinates cross-program responsibilities, highlights critical points of communications, and pinpoints completion.

During construction, Luster recommends that construction documents require construction contractors to develop a cost loaded CPM schedules. This is not essential for all projects, but is important on larger and more complicated ones. Luster’s responsibility is to review the proposed schedule, approve it for implementation, and monitor and report progress. We recommend that the cost loaded feature of the schedule be used as a schedule for progress payments. Linking progress payments with the schedule provides a powerful tool to account for work-in-place, schedule control, communicating construction activity and managing risk associated with construction claims due to impact.

In reviewing contractor schedules, Luster’s role is to ensure contract specifications are met, activities are logical, durations are realistic, and the critical path is not crowded with an unreasonable number of critical or near-critical activities. We look for issues such as parallel or conflicting critical paths. On cost-loaded schedules, we ensure the contractor has not front-loaded the schedule and that costs and labor hours are reasonable in relation to the activity duration and scope. Occasionally, we recommend that the schedule be back-end-loaded for project closeout activities such as performance testing, training, and preparation of operations and maintenance manuals. This is especially important when knowledge transfer is critical to the ongoing operation and maintenance of the project.

Luster has a working knowledge of scheduling software in the marketplace. We produce a variety of schedule reports, including cost/resource-loaded reports, summary bar charts, bell-curve forecasts and tracking, logic diagrams, and summary narratives that highlight current or anticipated challenges. Luster’s progress and narrative reports include executive summary reports, tabular reports, graphic representations, field reports, and daily inspection reports. These are organized and structured for delivery to multiple levels within the program, from executive briefings to detailed accounting. Issues germane to the recipient are highlighted and include schedule and cost issues, developments, plans, requests and recommendations. The reporting format and distribution for each level is established with the client early in the project.

 

Information Technology Assessments

Luster takes prides in its ability to effectively assess a client’s information technology needs. We determine what is needed to achieve sustainable results instead of resorting to a branded solution that is the flavor of the month. We work in a collaborative environment to ensure an organization’s culture and practices drive the technology solution.

 

Cost Assessments

Estimating is a multi-stage process that provides Luster with increasingly detailed information throughout design. The process starts early. The first project estimate compares the owner’s initial budget with historical cost data for similar projects. It also ensures that funds are available to build the project and highlights cost areas that need attention.

The second estimate defines project elements, such as site work, foundations, specialty items, and mechanical systems. A range of expected market conditions based on the baselines schedule are also determined.

The third level estimate drills down into the detailed cost of all major elements and sub-elements, including long-lead items and major equipment requirements. From this information, critical issues are identified for review and re-evaluation. The final estimate is completed simultaneously with construction documents that validate the budget. This final estimate is rolled-up into the control framework and becomes the basis for the pro forma that is used to monitor overall financial performance of the program.

 

Organizational Assessments

Luster typically mobilizes a project by setting operational performance standards. Performance standards are measured in a number of ways but the most significant are timeliness, content, and overall customer satisfaction. We recommend a professionally facilitated partnering session at the onset of the project with the client, Luster staff, and other interested parties. This establishes working relationships, protocols, linkages, and a common understanding of expectations.

In this phase, we incorporate and adopt into the project team all standards such as due dates, delivery, turn-around, and guidance pertaining to format and content.

Once parameters and benchmark measurements for excellence are established, the team implements its activities to achieve client expectations. To accomplish this, Luster provides personnel with the tools, supplies, transportation, supervision and services needed to perform the tasks and functions defined in our contract. We incorporate manpower curves to ensure staffing adjusts to the needs of the project. Using budgeted man-hour unit rates and productivity levels, manpower curves are created. The project is examined for peak and average work force requirements. Manpower curves are updated monthly and budgeted levels versus actual levels are reviewed. Significant deviations are identified in the trend report.