Bad Communication is the Root of All ProblemsBy Jan Hogewoning | Thu, 05/21/2020 - 12:34
Q: What is your added value in the construction and real estate project management sector?
A: BrickWalling is a services company, which means our human capital has to be our strength. Our employees are multidisciplinary, bringing different perspectives and experiences to the table. Our senior project managers are civil engineers or architects, with at least 15 years of experience. In addition, our teams include industrial engineers, structural engineers, electromechanics and financial experts with budget management skills. We have a high rate of certification and specialization from different international and national frameworks, such as LEED and occupational health and safety norms.
In this industry, knowledge and experience are very important. That is why we never let recent graduates take senior roles; they need to gain field experience first. Managing a project like those in our portfolio involves many different processes, from reading mechanical floorplans to understanding the commercialization of a property, which requires a high level of teamwork. The methodologies we apply are used internationally. I would say our services are at a developed-world level, adapted to the needs of Mexico. We are a high-quality option because we provide very elaborate services and pay our employees above-average salaries due to their experience.
Q: What software platforms do you use in your project management?
A: We work with various platforms. We are creating a unique platform for specific components regarding Property Condition Assessments (PCA), improving communication and experience through video reports. This is a service that basically creates a scan of a property’s condition. We want to be able to deliver this faster at the request of our client.
For project management, we use Basecamp. This is an online platform that allows to organize everything in one place, set up milestones and is very user-friendly like some other social networks. It ensures that communication is reliable. There are no instances of drawings or email messages not arriving. It updates constantly, providing visibility for the client on what they need to see. It is also very user-friendly on mobile phones. We use Dropbox and GDrive for our company’s internal data storage. Another internal platform we are working on with a software developer is called “iBrick.” This latest internal platform allows you to oversee all your spending and costs, integrates and controls your project budget. It is also available in app form, allowing project managers to upload new information during their field trips.
Our clients often use ProCore, another software for project management. During a project, they grant us access to manage the platform for them. We are also looking to use E-sourcing, a more economical model that is specific to Mexico, as an alternative to ProCore.
Q: What are the primary challenges to deliver a project on time?
A: The most important first step is to identify all stakeholders. Communication is the most important element in a project and you need to have very clear channels. We write daily, weekly and monthly project reports, which we provide to our clients and other stakeholders.
Every step of the project needs to be planned meticulously. A work breakdown structure tells you who needs to do what, at what moment and with which specific details. Having good task designation and communication then allows you to be agile and fast in making decisions along the way. There are many things that can happen during a project, adverse weather conditions for example. The goal is to anticipate and take action before any inconveniences.
Q: Where do you see growth opportunities in Mexico?
A: Putting aside the COVID-19 contingency for a moment, we see a lot of potential in vertical residential projects for rent. In the US, renting is very common and in Mexico, we are now seeing developers considering this model. It creates a financial channel for 30 years. Millennials are particularly attracted to renting instead of buying. In Mexico, purchasing power is lower, which favors renting. Our activities in this area would be more oriented to the post construction and aftersales areas. This includes installing final user requirements, such as domestic appliances, and tenant management.
Another area where we see a great deal of opportunity is industrial properties, particularly for e-commerce and light assembly plants as build-to-suits or speculative warehouses. We are developing two types. One is a multisector suitable property, which is put up for sale or lease by our client after it is completed. The other is build-to-suit plants for specific sectors. Currently, we have projects in this segment in the State of Mexico, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila.
Q: What services could you provide to assist clients during this contingency and the foreseeable recovery?
A: Many businesses, including restaurants and hotels, are going to close. This means more real estate is going to end up empty. We can provide a service that is called PCA. It evaluates the physical condition of a property that clients are seeking to purchase, lease, finance or simply maintain. It also gives accurate information on what repairs the property needs, the costs involved and the potential value when it is offered to the market. This is useful for interested investors, some of whom are looking to diversify their portfolio. With so many square meters of property becoming available, it is inevitable that property and land prices will drop. The current pandemic is also a good time to offer construction planning services like pre-construction and due diligence. This means conducting elaborate studies of properties to get an accurate picture for eventual construction activities.
BrickWalling is a Mexican company focused on project and construction management services across all sectors and regions. It also offers pre-construction and post-construction services, as well as construction consultancy on a range of topics