At the beginning of any challenging task, the magnitude of what needs to be accomplished can seem daunting.  Take for instance this article.  I am a landscape architect, not a writer, so the thought of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to write this article seemed like a big task.  In order to fully articulate the scope of the article, I created my main points on an outline.  The outline broke down the article into smaller, seemingly more achievable parts.

Project phasing works in much the same way.  Many owners can feel slightly overwhelmed by the magnitude of what needs to be done, especially when multiple projects need to happen over a period of time.  It is not uncommon for project funding to also come in phases, so phasing the work on the project can help make the best use of money that is currently available.  With these things in mind, let’s explore some key considerations for project phasing.

The Benefits of a Good Master Plan
When multiple facilities or projects make up the whole, a good master plan is essential.  The master plan acts much like my outline for this article.  It takes into consideration all of the existing and proposed areas of the project and provides a clear path forward.  A good master plan will help you make the best and most efficient use of space, avoiding haphazard siting of buildings and outdoor spaces.  It will also help prioritize projects and help you visualize the best order for projects to be completed.  The master plan will provide important cost information for each component – not only the cost to build, but also the cost to operate and maintain, as well as any monetization/revenue that might be realized from the project.  From this perspective, it is much easier to budget available funds or make a request for funding based on a solid plan.

Bite-Sized is Easier to Swallow
Acquiring funding for a project is often one of the biggest challenges.  Project phasing helps immensely with this issue because it breaks up funding requests into bite-sized pieces.  For example, while many different forces impact the ability to get bond funding, these types of funds are more likely to win approval if they address a clear unmet need and the financial burden is minimized.  Additionally, project phasing can work hand-in-hand with phasing for the issuance of bonds, helping institutions manage their debt service responsibly. Even in the private funding world, phasing provides potential donors with a clear picture of what their money will be used for, and allows them to feel invested in a tangible piece of the overall picture.

Keeping the Doors Open and the Lights on
Project phasing also has the advantage of helping owners minimize the impact of construction on ongoing operations.  In many cases, organizations are dependent on the money that is brought in from a particular facility, so shutting down during construction is not an option.  Beyond the financial impacts, closing a facility during construction can also have a negative impact on the community it serves.  Project phasing in the master plan will help mitigate these concerns at a macro level, but often each individual project will also require a more focused phasing plan for construction.

It is also worth noting that phasing isn’t always the right approach.  Like just about everything else in life, the decision to phase a project is made by weighing all of the factors of each unique situation.  Phasing costs more in the long run, so if you have all of the funding and support that you need for a project on hand, it is often a good idea to move forward sooner rather than later.  Over time construction costs rise, inflation occurs, codes and regulations change, and decision-making boards, councils, and commissions experience turnover.  At RVi, we can help you navigate the finer points of phasing, as well as the many other considerations that come along with complex projects.