The venue for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and home of the Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, has transformed itself from its roots as a silver mining town into a world-class mountain resort. The Park City Municipal Corporation, part of the local city government, has set the goal of helping Park City become “The Best Resort Town in America.” In support of this objective, the city oversees a slew of new and ongoing public works, infrastructure, and related construction projects, managing a much higher volume of construction activity than is typical for a city of roughly 8,000 residents. For example, the budget for the city’s water-related projects—both capital projects and asset management—totals $160 million over three years.
Overcome governmental resource limitations by streamlining construction project workflows and automating construction management activities through more effective communications in real time using Microsoft® 365 business applications to minimize construction delays, avoid unnecessary costs, and fully document construction activities.
Implement the VPO Construction Project Management cloud-based platform, including the Submittal, Request for Information, Change Order, Field Management, Document Management, and Payment modules, as well as a custom-developed Archiving module.
- Managing a three-year, $160 million construction budget with a staff of just three.
- Continuing project progress amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Formalizing construction project workflows and automating communications.
- Saving time and money via real-time, cloud-based construction management.
Until 2020, Park City Municipal Corporation had to rely on construction management consultants, an overworked staff of three city employees, and manual communication methods, such as using email, file transfer protocols (FTPs), and Dropbox®, to deliver documents and drawings, and transfer files, according to Public Utilities Engineering Manager Roger McClain. “We did not use any construction management software prior to 2019, and our staff was stretched pretty thin because of the large number of projects we undertake each year,” McClain recalls. “Although we relied on consultants or contractors to help us manage our large number of projects in the past, we came to understand that leveraging technology to manage our construction projects would not only enable us to work smarter instead of longer, but would also be more cost-effective over the long term, saving the city money.
“Because our time and resources are limited, we began investigating construction project management solutions to identify better, technology-based approaches to managing projects,” McClain explains. “That’s when we discovered one of our valued design, engineering, and construction management partners—Bowen Collins & Associates, Inc.—had begun using the VPO Construction Project Management platform to manage one of our projects: an upgrade to the Quinn’s Junction Water Treatment plant.”
McClain says that because Park City has a good rapport and relationship with Bowen Collins, the city was able to leverage the company’s research into available construction management solutions and try out VPO, using the Bowen Collins VPO platform to pilot the solution on the Quinn’s Junction project. “We were looking at construction management solutions when we learned that Bowen Collins was already up and running on VPO,” McClain recounts. “Knowing Bowen Collins well after having worked with them on several projects, we relied on their research and began using VPO as a user on the Bowen Collins VPO platform. We found VPO to be very user friendly, and during the Quinn’s Junction experience, we couldn’t find any real downside to the solution.”
Nevertheless, Park City had one more hurdle to overcome before recommending the acquisition and implementation of the VPO solution for construction project management: would the VPO platform pass the city’s demanding security certification process? “We did not have the full Microsoft® Office® 365 suite of integrated tools installed at the time, and our IT Department has very stringent security requirements,” McClain explains. “We had to vet VPO through our IT Department to ensure that the solution is compliant with our security protocols. Once we determined that the VPO cloud-based solution was secure, we were ready to make the move to Microsoft 365 and implement VPO.”
Park City chose VPO Construction Project Management software because the solution is user-friendly; cloud-based; operates on smartphones, tablets, and laptops; and leverages Microsoft Office 365 business productivity solutions. The city also valued VPO’s ability to develop a custom Archiving module—for archiving all project activities and communications—in addition to providing its standard Submittal, Clarification, Request for Information, Field Management, Payment, Invoicing, and Change Order modules.
“We did some customization of dashboards and interfaces to make the VPO solution as simple and easy to use as possible,” McClain notes. “The only capability that we are unable to utilize is the Bidding module, because as a governmental entity we must receive closed, blind bids. However, we have still been able to make the bidding process more streamlined and efficient by providing access to a bidder’s log, where vendors can access the drawings and updates necessary to submit a bid.”
MANAGING CONSTRUCTION AMID THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Park City implemented the VPO Construction Project Management platform at the beginning of 2020 and began using it on the $80 million upgrade to the Three Kings Water Treatment Plant, part of its three-year, $160 million water-related construction budget. Located between two holes on a public golf course in a highly residential area, the Three Kings project involves demolition of the existing plant in late 2019 with the construction of a new plant starting in the spring of 2020 and continuing through 2022.
The project consists of nine new buildings and associated utilities, including an administration building, flocculation/sedimentation building, clarifier/filter/absorber building, equalization basin, disinfection and pumping building, two gravity thickener structures, a chemical storage building, an electrical building, a maintenance building, and other supporting structures. Unique characteristics of the project include no parking or staging areas, necessitating a bus shuttle system; on-site micro-hydro and solar power generation systems; and the need to utilize and service sanitizing stations in order to continue work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
McClain says that the VPO Construction Project Management platform is working perfectly and has helped the city more effectively deal with the potential disruptions of managing a construction site amidst an epidemic. “I would be crying by now if we were trying to do this last year and the COVID-19 outbreak occurred,” McClain stresses. “I have a construction trailer on-site with no one in it. Everyone involved in the project is remote-limited, working from home. Yet, we’re still working, routing and sharing information and documents, conducting meetings via Microsoft Teams, and tracking the specialized equipment for the project that is being manufactured all across the country. Without the VPO Construction Project Management platform, everything on this project would have ground to a halt.”
Although the timing of Park City’s acquisition and implementation of the VPO Construction Project Management platform makes it look like McClain could predict the future, he says the city was just fortunate. “I wish that I could credit the timing of the VPO installation to project management foresight,” McClain says. “But the truth is it was sheer, dumb luck! This whole situation has quickly shown us that there are better ways to do things—more quickly, more easily, and more affordably—with VPO.”
MONITORING PROGRESS WITH VPO IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
One of the benefits of using the VPO platform for construction project management is the ability to monitor project status and progress without having to physically visit the construction site. In Park City, McClain and his team have paired the VPO Document Library with live-streaming video EarthCAM webcams and a photographic camera fitted to a drone to provide access to live video and time-lapsed photography and establish a complete video/photo log of the project. The drone flies over the site monthly and takes photographs with a special time-lapsed camera. In addition to creating a photo log of the actual construction site, Park City also has established a log of photos for items arriving on-site as part of field punch lists.
“We’ve really just peeled back one layer in terms of the full potential of what we can do with VPO,” McClain stresses. “We’re now fully into construction and submittals on the Three Kings project. Everything is working smoothly—despite the COVID-19 outbreak—instead of the hundreds of daily emails, chaos, and confusion we would be experiencing if we didn’t have VPO.”
MANAGING VPO ACCESS STREAMLINES CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT
While accessing all of the documents and materials in VPO enables McClain to keep his finger on the pulse of a project, managing VPO user access and user rights helps to streamline and automate project workflows and processes. “VPO keeps all of the documents and information regarding a project at its current state, which helps me to know everything that is going on, so I can see where the problems are and where coordination is required,” McClain points out.
“However, just as importantly, VPO gives me the ability to control platform access and what a user can do once he or she accesses the platform,” McClain adds. “Some project participants need the ability to change or ‘edit’ documents while others merely require ‘read-only’ access. Plus, some information requires additional restrictions so that it cannot be accessed by a particular user or users. VPO is compartmentalized very well and provides the access control tools that we need to automate information flows as well as workflows. By managing user access and tying that access into workflows, we are realizing additional efficiencies as well as the heightened transparency required of a governmental entity. And, at the end of the project, everything is archived, preserving a public record on every project.”
Park City Municipal Corporation
City Hall, Park City
445 Marsac Avenue
Park City, UT 84060
Phone: +1 (435) 615-5000