Project Management as a Product: Project Delivery with Steve Ullrich
Updated: Apr 7, 2021
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 Steve Ullrich, a Project Manager here at lumenomics. As Project Manager, Steve oversees the construction of our largest west coast projects from start to finish. Between scouring plans for potential issues, coordinating ongoing labor and product deliveries, and putting out the inevitable fires that pop up when least expected, here’s how he gets it done.
LU: Thanks for joining us! Let’s get this started. Can you introduce yourself and let us know what you do?
STEVE: My name is Steve Ullrich and I’m a Project Manager for lumenomics. I work on our west coast projects- typically our larger ones.
LU: So when do you get involved with a project?
STEVE: For large-scale projects, especially design-build projects, I’m involved from the start to provide insights for our estimating team. Usually, I’ll be there for the bidding phase when we’re looking at our budgets. I review the takeoff and budget with the estimating team to make sure we have the end in mind when we approach a project from the very beginning. Each project has its own unique challenges, especially for the larger projects that involve more trades and stakeholders. As the Project Manager, I want to make sure we have a plan and budget to address these challenges before we even get on site. Once we win a project, my main role is coordinating the scheduling- deliveries, installations, labor, etc. until the project is wrapped. Essentially, I’m identifying milestones and setting things in motion to make sure we arrive at each of them without issue.
LU: Let’s talk about those pre-construction stages- bidding and submittals. What are your goals?
STEVE: During those phases, we want to provide all the stakeholders all the information necessary for the successful completion of our scope of work. This means the general contractor, architects, facility people, and all other trade partners we will need to coordinate with to ensure a smooth project for all. This not only requires us to be the experts for our own products and processes but more importantly, it requires us to understand how our scope fits into the overall project schedule and turnover.
LU: How do you keep track of everything happening?
STEVE: I’ve worked in many different roles throughout my career that have allowed me a unique insight and perspective into each step of a project. The lens I see through is detailed and multifacet- encompassing all stages of a project, so I can see issues that might arise and know the best way to address them. My main focus is to communicate with our Project Managers and production department to line up our products and services for smooth delivery and installation. As a company that manufactures a lot of the products we install, it’s extremely helpful to be able to contact our production team and coordinate directly with them as opposed to an outside manufacturer.
LU: How often are you checking in with production?
STEVE: As soon as the work order is created, I’ll follow up shortly after to make sure production has begun on the floor and are hitting our project milestones for delivery. If things are looking good, then that’s great! If things have shifted, I can immediately notify the General Contractors and give them the updates they’ll need to keep moving forward.
LU: Do you ever visit the facility?
STEVE: Totally. I’ll go there often to do quality control checks and make sure a shipment meets our expectations before it heads off to a job site. I work with our production manager to determine what products we need to order for materials and help time that out so we’re not sitting on a bunch of materials or having to wait around for them.
LU: It’s not often that a manufacturer and installer are one and the same. How does this set you up for success on the job site?
STEVE: From design to manufacturing to installation- our vertical integration is what makes the difference. It’s so amazing to be able to go to the facility to see how things are coming along and check if they are being made correctly. If there are corrections to be made, we don’t have to reach out to a supplier to fix an issue, we can address it right then and there ourselves. The benefit to our lead time is immense and we are more nimble and agile because of it.
LU: How has your experience working with production influenced your project management?
STEVE: Working directly with production gives me a better and more detailed understanding of our entire process. Timing up deliveries of raw materials, planning production, and delivering the finished products takes a lot of detail and thorough planning. With multiple projects, big and small, pulling it off takes brilliant timing and thorough communication, but luckily we’re really good at that at lumenomics.
LU: So it’s really about finding those windows to perform the work and doing it right in those moments.
STEVE: Exactly. Definitely with production, but it’s especially important on the job site. I’ve got to maintain constant contact with the site supervisor or site engineer who’s in charge of our scope. A lot of the time, we’re getting products shipped to the site as it’s being installed floor by floor, or zone by zone, so I’m making sure that the situation is being planned for and managed carefully. We’re coordinating everything so we get things delivered on time and not holding up other trades or getting held up ourselves.
LU: How does your approach to big projects differ from your approach to standard projects?
STEVE: It doesn’t really. It’s the same method of being detail-oriented and focused on aligning the timing, just on a bigger scale. There’s just more scheduling to work around on bigger projects.
LU: Besides scheduling, bigger projects can also mean bigger fires. Let’s say you’re on a project and s*** hits the fan. What do you do?
STEVE: First... I take a deep breath. *laughs* Then I make sure to reach out to everyone who is involved immediately with the situation, as well as anyone on our team who can help identify a solution for it. There’s a wealth of knowledge and lived experience in lumenomics- if it can happen, it’s probably happened to one of us and we know how to deal with it. I focus immediately on finding a working solution as fast as possible to resolve the situation.
LU: What’s your motivation to do this work?
STEVE: My motivation is that I enjoy the work that I do. I like the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a project- especially when it’s a bigger project that we’ve had for years. Knowing that I’m providing a quality product and that our clients are happy gives me a sense of pride. It’s cool working with natural light in the ways that we do.