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Project: Building the Education Revolution

Adeline Teoh
March 28, 2011

Principals first

The sheer number of stakeholders meant communication about the projects in individual schools needed to be regular and relevant. Parkes says this process worked on a few different levels.

Foremost was the need to relay information to the principal of the school where each project took place. The site supervisors had direct contact with the principals, who could then pass news of the progress of the works to the school community via school newsletters. Parkes says Hansen Yuncken also hosted forums on the program and its strategies, and had its own periodic newsletters.

The next level involved site managers, project managers and engineers throughout the whole region comparing their progress. Above that was the senior executives meeting, hosted by the IPO, which included talk about higher order program directions, says Parkes. “We identified that early. We had a start-up workshop involving the education side, the regional director, the school education directors. We held a monthly meeting with those players so we knew where the program was working.”

Any member of the public can track the program via the IPO’s dedicated website. “Each individual school is listed and details related to the project and the program are outlined on that website. We provide information on a weekly basis to the IPO, so that is a key communication tool,” explains Parkes. The Department of Education and Training also uses its regional network to communicate the program’s progress alongside non-BER programs.

The broader community is also kept in the loop via its local politicians, adds O’Grady. “The IPO keeps the politicians at various levels informed of the progress of the work and we send short updates to local politicians so they’re aware of what’s happening in their area.”

Public school projects

Because of the public nature of the program, BER has experienced more than its fair share of media and public scrutiny. On one hand, in early 2010, then Minister for Education Julia Gillard praised Hansen Yuncken for being ahead of schedule on its southwestern Sydney projects; on the other, The Australian newspaper revealed that some contractors in the BER program were charging additional fees on top of the two percent usually charged for project management. BER contractors, including Hansen Yuncken, have since refused to reveal their fee schedules, facing media and public consternation about the use of government money.

O’Grady indicates that the scrutiny has not affected projects, and that at the school level the community recognises what Hansen Yuncken has delivered. “There is misinformation out there. There has been some really nice feedback about the work we’ve delivered out on the sites, which is heartening to see,” he says.

Parkes adds that at the project level, the teams simply focus on delivery. “It’s best to do a good job, and let the communication occur outside of us. We provide all the necessary information to the IPO and the media will effectively do what they want,” he says. “To a large extent, we see our role as best supporting our stakeholders and that is the school principals. It’s usually the silent majority that don’t get into the media that are the ones that are happy.”

BER began in June 2009 and has already racked up more than a million man-hours at about $1.5 million per day. At this rate, Hansen Yuncken will not only deliver its part of the program in early 2011, but for some projects will deliver several months ahead.

“We as a team and as a company are very proud of the way we’ve delivered this work. We have reacted very quickly to build systems and processes to deliver work efficiently, and we brought to the table the right procurement method with the right construction team,” sums O’Grady. “At the end of the day Hansen Yuncken will be shown to have delivered a great value product of a quality standard.”

—With Andrew Campbell, construction manager at Hansen Yuncken

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Adeline Teoh
Adeline Teoh is the editor and publisher of ProjectManager.com.au. She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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