Inside McCarthy Building Co & Black & Veatch's project management strategies

Shelby Barbier

Senior Vice President

Black & Veatch Construction Inc. 

The “best athlete” approach is critical to successful project outcomes, using a checklist of criteria that begins with smartly assigning the appropriate employees to a project or opportunity. Understanding that executing a project isn’t a simple plug-and-play proposition and getting the right pieces in place at the start is essential.

The depth and breadth of a worker’s skill set must measure up to the project’s complexity. Simply put, you wouldn’t assign someone with a telecommunications background to manage the construction of a combined-cycle power plant. Risk management questions must be explored, including whether the project’s schedule requirements are complex or constrained.

Are we hiring directly, or is this entirely subcontracted? What is the contract structure? At Black & Veatch, we place importance on matching our team members to customers with which they have had a prior relationship, appreciating the value of their knowledge of that client’s culture, safety requirements and other essentials.

We strive to keep those teams close to their homes, helping maintain their family lives. And we resist the temptation to assign a team member to a project simply because they’re “on the bench” and are available, ignoring whether their skill set is actually compatible with the work.

Tony Church

Executive Vice President 

McCarthy Building Companies 

When we look to assign projects across our teams at McCarthy, we use several different methods to determine the best fit for the task at hand. First, we analyze the project in terms of scope and cost. We then take into consideration the project delivery method, the ideal cultural fit for the client and our internal team and the project timeline.

At McCarthy, we focus on putting together our project teams in terms of individual skill sets, team compatibility and developmental opportunities for our office and field staff. Additionally, we consider how the timing will align with our team's current commitments and elements that are important to our partners, such as the standard commute to the jobsite.

Typically, we are in front of projects about 12 to 18 months before they are awarded, so we can properly preposition our team and identify where we can provide the highest value to the client. This is an ideal way to ensure projects are staffed properly.

It also allows us to provide our team with growth opportunities—both from a technical and personal development perspective—as well as help to diversify their résumé and work with them to become a specialist in a certain area, such as health-care construction.