Project Management as a Product: Project Management with Isabelle Hoffman
For our clients and customers, the value of lumenomics doesn't just center around our physical offerings but our service offerings. Forecasting challenges, quickly navigating unforeseen circumstances, and providing stakeholders peace of mind from pre-construction to occupancy is the true value we bring as daylight designers. To share more about how we successfully manage projects, we're talking to some of our best and brightest who operate at the construction process's critical junctions to deliver values on each project for key stakeholders.
Today, we're featuring Isabelle Hoffman, an Assistant Project Manager here at lumenomics. As an Assistant Project Manager, Isabelle oversees the construction of our national account projects. Isabelle is responsible for setting schedules and expectations for projects and seeing them through to completion. As an intermediary between installers and General Contractors, Isabelle needs to know what’s going on at all times with every single detail. Here’s how she gets it done.
LU: Hey! Let’s get this started with an easy one. Who are you, and what do you do here at lumenomics?
ISABELLE: My name is Isabelle, and I’m an Assistant Project Manager at lumenomics. I mostly take care of our smaller national account projects where daylight products like shades and scrims are installed- but I also assisted Project Managers on other key projects with managing equipment and scheduling installers.
LU: Nice! So what is happening with a project when you enter the scene?
ISABELLE: I get into a project once we have an approved submittal and confirmation - this means the design and building teams have agreed with our scope of work. For the projects I work on, a smooth coordination at the beginning is the key to ensure a successful project delivery. I step in when they’re ready to receive their General Contractor Installed Items, like J-Box cables for electricians and scrim headbox and tracks for framing stages. Basically once I’m involved I’m responsible for ordering those things and ensuring that they are shipped and delivered on time. I’m also responsible for scheduling the site surveys and measurements for installation.
LU: When you’re brought into a project, what’s your mindset in that first initial phase?
ISABELLE: My mindset is that I want to do everything on our side to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible without any troubles. Our work needs to stick to the budget, so that means avoiding any corrections, re-installations, or remanufacturing. This is critical during those first phases of construction to communicate and coordinate with the General Contractor and other trades, especially when the drywall and ceiling aren’t finished yet. Nobody should need to delay moving the process forward or have to correct the work they’ve done by reopening the walls - this can be avoided through coordination at the early stage of a project.
LU: What are your goals for a project?
ISABELLE: Basically, I want everything done properly the first time, so if there’s anything that can happen, I want to catch it before it becomes a bigger issue. I always establish a good communication strategy with the General Contractor, to make sure we bring up any issues or troubles that could interfere with deliverables.
LU: What skills are vital for your success as a project manager?
ISABELLE: Communication. Being able to stay connected with my installers and General Contractor’s and know what’s going on throughout the process is what makes a project happen. As the main point of contact between the General Contractor and our installers, I want to make sure to communicate the details and background of a project so that everyone knows what’s happening. When I’m doing my job right, everyone involved in the project knows what needs to be done and how.
LU: That’s a lot of information to keep track of. How do you stay on top of things?
ISABELLE: We use an Intelligent Service System that helps us stay on top of all the things going on. It’s instrumental in helping me keep track of everything that needs to get done. The system calculates our lead times and lets me know when to order items to get them in time for a project. It’s fully automated to take inputs and adjust each of our deliverables to help me stay on track for ordering, shipping, packing, installing, etc. Basically this tool is what allows me to see what’s going to happen before it happens.
LU: Is that how you forecast issues?
ISABELLE: Exactly. Every survey and installation is checked for completion and has detailed documentation and photos associated with each product, so I am able to immediately dial into any items we’ve installed and pinpoint problems or changes. All these items are exportable and easily communicable to General Contractors to keep them up to date. We can know exactly what happened with a specific item anywhere on site at any moment.
LU: How do you go about confronting issues that come up?
ISABELLE: When there are mistakes or unavoidable circumstances that lead to us not being able to deliver on time, we make sure that the General Contractor understands what’s going on. This is especially crucial during COVID as supply chains have been heavily impacted. Sometimes that means being upfront and honest with the contractors about what deadlines are looking like. If they come to me behind on their install items, then I need to be ready to tell them that we won’t be ready for them. If I can’t deliver something on time, then I will be sure to communicate as much and early as possible to give contractors updates. I let them know often what I’m doing to make sure we can correct the course and get back on track as soon as possible.
LU: What do you think makes lumenomics’ project management operations successful?
ISABELLE: At lumenomics, many of us have worked our way up through multiple positions across departments, so we’re aware of what’s needed at multiple levels from different perspectives. We’re familiar with everything that’s happening along the way, and because of that, our communication channels are very open here. We’re all in it together. Another thing I think that’s incredibly important is our emphasis on a common language and vernacular. In construction, there are so many different terms and words that are thrown around. Not having a standardized language around these can lead to big problems on a project, so we really emphasize training and implementing the correct wording. Having a universal language helps us manage our projects effectively and efficiently.
LU: Why is lumenomics the company to choose for General Contractors?
ISABELLE: Construction can be stressful! No matter the size of a project or building , there’s always so much going on to worry about. When we partner with a General Contractor, we want to make our scope or work to go as smoothly as possible. We don’t want to just have a transactional relationship where we just deliver something you paid for - we go above and beyond to do the best job possible. That mission is why we created our Intelligent Service System project management tool. It helps our team make sure that everything is happening the easiest way possible and keeps us on top of everything that is going on. We’re not just trying to make money, we’re about delivering the best solutions we can.
LU: What do you love about being a project manager? ISABELLE: I love delivering projects on time without issues. The best part is when I’m able to execute the timing just right with a project. Like when I accomplish each task in order, on time, and the General Contractors are super appreciative- that’s my favorite part!