By Maj. James C. Covington, Deputy Area Engineer, Schofield Barracks Area Office
The "Red Zone": The red zone is the last 20 yards before the goal lines at both ends of an American football field. Since the field is 100 yards long, the red zone accounts for 40 percent of the football field. By the time a team reaches the red zone, the offense has almost made it to the goal line. The red zone is never marked on the field itself--nothing formally differentiates the red zone from any other part of the field--but becomes an extremely useful tool when planning strategy. Commentators will often speak of the red zone when gauging a team's overall effectiveness. Similarly, coaches often emphasize red zone plays as a means of successfully completing a drive (or stymieing the opponents'). – eHow.com
While there many ways to score points on a football field, the ultimate goal of any team is to push the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. Football coaches at every level of play - from high school to the National Football League - now dedicate special sessions during each practice to execute offensive strategies designed to score from inside the red zone.
Crossing the goal line into the end zone and finishing the scoring drive for a construction project means a successful completion for all those involved in the building process. For Honolulu District project managers, its customers, and stakeholders, successfully and safely getting into the end zone and scoring is the ultimate goal.
Construction faces many challenges in the final stage and is more susceptible to potential delays as there is less flexibility in the construction schedule once the Beneficial Occupancy Date (BOD) is established. Therefore, the District implements strategies from the Corps’ construction staff, contractors, and associated stakeholders, to score. They do so by placing added emphasis and scrutiny on the details in the final months and phases of each project and conducting monthly red zone meetings with the project’s stakeholders.
The red zone meeting concept was first implemented by Honolulu District in 2002, requiring that the initial red zone meeting be conducted at 80% completion but not fewer than 75 days prior to the scheduled BOD for all Military Construction (MILCON) funded projects. The goal is to develop a schedule necessary to achieve both timely project completion and financial closeout.
Construction surveys provided to the Corps have shown that customers mostly remember how well a project finished and rarely address how it began. After all, most projects begin on-time and on-budget, with high morale and healthy relationships between the contractor and stakeholders. Differing site conditions, construction challenges, and personnel turnover are not uncommon and can alter the initial conditions and expectations over the course of a project. The best way to mitigate these potential issues is to hold red zone meetings.
During a red zone meeting, the Project Delivery Team (PDT) meets with the contractor and the customer to discuss the closeout process, to schedule milestones and events, and to assign responsibilities for actions necessary to provide a physically complete project for the BOD and to ensure a smooth transfer and financial closeout.
The PDT uses the project closeout checklist developed through the USACE Enterprise Business Process for all new Military Construction projects as the primary guidance for the red zone meetings. The checklist establishes a 46-step detailed process that starts with scheduling the initial red zone meeting to the last step of project closeout in P2 (Corps Project Management software).
The initial and follow-on red zone meetings are essential to ensure timely coordination, commitment and proactivity among the PDT, contractor, and all stakeholders in delivering a complete and usable facility on-time to the customer.
Other than a pre-construction conference, the various stakeholders gather together only rarely. The District recommends that red zone meeting attendees include, but are not limited to, the Project Manager, Resident Engineer, other key PDT members, the Directorate of Public Works, the Network Enterprise Center, Directorate of Emergency Services, Federal Fire Department, the end user, and the contractor. Meetings are led by the Resident Engineer and Project Manager and discuss all known construction and fiscal requirements remaining before achieving BOD. This process results in a feasible plan of action among other tools that identifies the key agencies responsible for each activity as well as the associated milestones necessary to mitigate potential delays and costs.
As of mid-May 2013, the District has held four newly regenerated red zone meetings. These meetings have resulted in identifying critical communication issues for various projects which have allowed sufficient time for all involved to create contingencies that otherwise could have made the BOD slip further out and ultimately impact the end-users mission.
As Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.”
Since the Honolulu District is committed to providing high quality facilities for the nation’s Soldiers and armed forces, winning means continued implementation of the red zone meeting strategy in order to accelerate getting these facilities to our armed forces safely, on time, and on budget.