Whatever the size and shape of your interpretation project, the delivery stage can often be accompanied by a sense of apprehension, as well as eagerness to see all that design development become reality. With planning, people and resources in place there are a few golden rules which can help temper the apprehension and launch your interpretation project smoothly and successfully.
GET READY… STEADY….
As discussed in our last blog, the RIBA Plan of Work helps to structure each stage of an interpretation project from initial ideas to handover. RIBA 5 – 7 covers the delivery stage. Here tasks might include a final review of design information from contractors or specialists, product testing and fabrication, installation and snagging.
Whether you are managing your delivery internally or have an external project manager, before setting wheels in motion now is the time to pause and reassess your implementation plan as a team. This plan should set out timescales for action, highlight milestones (what should be done and when), detail responsibilities (who is doing what) and flag up any possible risks (you could use a separate risk register for this). This plan should be ‘owned’ by the whole team. It needs to be a practical, realistic schedule everyone is ‘signed up’ to. It will help you embrace the unexpected together and find collaborative solutions to any issues that may arise. Overly complicated plans can become administrative burdens, turning from a management tool to project risk. Avoid this risk by taking a steady approach to getting ready for delivery implementation.
Tricolor has decades of combined experience of working with teams and team members to deliver a range of heritage projects. This ‘sharp end’, practical, experience means that we have a clear understanding of what it’s like to be on both sides of the table, as client and as contractor. The factor common to both these experiences is the need to keep communication channels flowing. This is especially true during the delivery stage when information often needs to be exchanged quickly in order for decisions to be made swiftly, efficiently and intelligently. Lengthy project meetings with vague agendas can be counter-productive. It is much better to choose a balance of communication tools that suit the rapid response nature of this project stage. Consider virtual meetings, visiting contractors in situ and summary progress reports to keep on top of forthcoming actions.
Interpretation projects should be part of and involve an overall organisational approach – they should not stand in isolation. As such everyone within the organisation should be provided with the information they need to understand, be part of and champion a new development. Getting everyone involved and finding creative ways to share new developments internally is crucial to not just the short-term delivery of a project, but also for long term sustainability and organisational sense of pride and ownership.
Don’t forget your visitors! It’s important to communicate with your audiences during delivery too. This is especially relevant during a large redisplay or refurbishment project. This is when the visitor experience is often impacted the most, as, for example, works onsite could involve re-routing or restricting access to spaces. Consider turning these potentially disappointing visitor experiences into opportunities to communicate about what you are doing and why, and enable visitors to see, respond and interact. What could you offer visitors to demonstrate, pilot or share about the new interpretation? Use delivery as an opportunity to encourage repeat visits through tailored messaging.
Project delivery can be a great opportunity to deliver a ‘behind the scenes’ experience for your visitors. Remember to share those delivery moments (big or small) and showcase on site or via activities or social media the diverse set of professional skills and craftsmanship which help bring interpretation projections to fruition. Be this the conservation, movement or mounting of a key object or trying out a new interactive for the first time.
DON’T ALWAYS THINK STRAIGHT
Delivery is not a linear process, but a series of linked and interlinking actions. Subsequently, thinking flexibly about the delivery stage will help ensure you keep a clear head and avoid reactive rather than proactive decision making.
THINK BACKWARDS TO PLAN FORWARDS
Document your project as it develops by creating a delivery log tracking each stage. Think creatively – tools could include for example a timelapse film of an installation. This log can be used to draw together lessons learnt to help evaluate your project during the ‘handover’ stage. What can be learnt from the delivery process? What are the challenges and successes that could impact future interpretation projects or products, for you or elsewhere in the sector? Involving all members of the project team in a ‘wash-up’ session at completion ensures all voices and experiences are heard and incorporated. Use this process to help fine tune your approach and strategy.
During this stage, work closely with contractors to resolve quickly (while skills are still onsite) any initial snagging, organise any joint training that may be required and ensure management and maintenance documentation is coordinated and comprehensive.
BRING THE CAKE
Projects are delivered by people. These are people who have invested significantly in time and creativity to ensure outcomes are completed on time, in budget. It is people that have fine-tuned the project to reach target audiences. And so it is important to take time to thank them and celebrate achievements before moving on! Can I have another slice please…?!
We hope you found this article useful. If you missed the first two articles in the series, you can find them here;
Re-Interpreting Interpretation Projects – Where to Begin? and Re-interpreting interpretation projects – design development
Or, if you would like more information about Tricolor and how they can help you in your interpretation projects visit tricolorassociates.co.uk or email [email protected]