Squad Checking – Project success depends on it.

 

 

Contributed by David Bull, Engineering Manager

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Squad Checking – Project success depends on it.  

In the design/build environment there is a huge amount of overlap between disciplines. Everything is connected in one way or another. Project progress often depends on the validity of the previous steps. A lack of communication and checking between the engineering disciplines increases the chance of inaccuracies and costly construction fixes.

Squad Checking is a practice that should be employed to help combat this issue throughout all organizations where interdisciplinary work is taking place. This method is something we use extensively at our company to limit surprises. The steps taken to conduct a successful squad check change from project to project depending on the client and the team, but the overall premise is the same.

Why do a Squad Check?

Inaccuracies. No one is perfect. Most teams in this type of work environment are formed by combining diverse backgrounds and expertise. These differences create great teams when a strong foundation for communication is built from the get go. Miscommunication and/or mistakes are never wanted, but they happen. Squad checks help improve accuracy by catching things that other disciplines either miss, were not properly communicated, or cause interference. In the end, this could help save a substantial amount of time and money for a project.

When do a Squad Check?

Problems in engineering can lead to extensive issues down the road. This makes it most important to Squad Check during the engineering side of a project. It is much cheaper to fix things during the engineering and design phase rather during the construction phase. The costliness of construction changes should be explained throughout the team. By understanding the consequences, the entire team will become aware of what can happen when a project stage is rushed through and left unchecked.

Steps to Squad Checking

  1. Have a clear team structure.
    a. Make sure everyone involved in the project knows their role and the roles of the other disciplines. Take time to point out who is responsible for what. This will make things clear as the project moves forward.
  2. Provide all the information to the team.
    a. Make sure all important project documents are up to date and available to the entire team. If changes are made, make sure that is known immediately.
  3. Set up a timeline.
    a. Make sure that Squad Checks happen at the right times. A few good times include when critical parts of the design are being finalized, during equipment layout, and before issuing any items to customers.

If you do this during your project it will help ensure its health and validity. Great things can happen for the client when teams are set up for success, have accountability and work towards a common goal.

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David Bull H+M Industrial EPC

David Bull – Engineering Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Chemical Engineering, MBA

David has more than 13 years of industrial engineering experience in operations and project settings. Responsibilities include: process design, optimization and debottlenecking; capital project management; and process unit management. With previous experience in operations for the Dow Chemical Company, David has worked at H+M for the past year in project management.

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Beyond the Cubicle – The importance of developing entry level employees.

 

 

Contributed by David Bull, Engineering Manager

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Beyond the Cubicle – The importance of developing entry level employees. 

BeyondCubicleArt

No one starts off their career knowing it all and not everything can be learned in the classroom. Knowledge is key and entry level employees need guidance, oversight and consistent feedback to make sure they deliver their best performance. This is especially true in the engineering and design world.

Throughout my years as a manager, I have noticed that entry level folks are generally thrown into a box of cubicles to see who emerges with the desire to develop their skills and go on to a profitable career as a piping, I&E or civil/structural engineer or designer.  The development of this group is often times stalled out due to an unclear development path. It is unrealistic for them to rely solely on on-the-job training since it can possibly take years to build their experience to the necessary level.

With limited resources in the design world it is imperative to develop your young fresh talent. Below are three ways that I suggest to achieve peak performance from your new design hires.

PERFORMANCE DEVELOPMENT

One of the first things you can do to develop your less experienced technical talent is to align their development path to organizational goals through a performance development program.

  1. Start by setting goals for them to attain throughout the year. Use these goals to increase productivity, identify your top performers and motivate the group.
  2. Make sure these goals are tied to compensation as the group will begin to bring more value to your organization with their developing skills. Also, having something specific to strive for never hurts.
  3. Check in with them quarterly or bi-annually to see where they stand and to give them feedback. A quick conversation about their performance can have a lasting impact.

At the end of this exercise your developmental people will be more engaged because they will know that someone cares about their future. Having engaged employees creates organizational loyalty that, in turn, can help retain your skilled talent.

MENTORING

Most can identify someone that has had a significant impact on their career over the years. Embracing the idea of a mentorship program can help grow your people and decrease the knowledge gap that plagues many organizations.

Start off your mentorship program by assigning a lead designer to mentor the group through their development.  This provides new hires with a resource for questions and idea generation. This works best when the mentee has the ability to accept feedback or constructive criticism and open to learning new things.

Mentoring is a two-way street. It requires that both parties are dedicated to ensure its success. Remember to pair them with a mentor who has patience and is eager to share in their development. Task the mentor with creating a development focus based on what your organization needs whether it be modeling, field work, etc.

LUNCH AND LEARN SESSIONS

Providing forums to attend that discuss basic design procedures and strategies can easily facilitate development as well.  I have found that a lunch-and-learn type environment is the perfect setting to help bring out good feedback and answers to any questions they may have.  It is remarkable what can be learned from one another in such a quick and casual setting.

At H+M we have taken this a step further and send our new drafting hires through Piper and I&E academies.  These academies require 17 weeks of classroom training followed by a field exercise checklist to help build on-the-job skills. Despite a lengthier time commitment, I have noticed a clear acceleration of the learning curve with this method.

Spend some time developing your talent and watch your retention and job satisfaction grow. This not only helps the new employee, it helps the organization as a whole.

 

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David Bull H+M Industrial EPC

David Bull – Engineering Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Chemical Engineering, MBA

David has more than 13 years of industrial engineering experience in operations and project settings. Responsibilities include: process design, optimization and debottlenecking; capital project management; and process unit management. With previous experience in operations for the Dow Chemical Company, David has worked at H+M for the past year in project management.

Read More