Team commissioning keeps complex, multi-stakeholder projects on track (Podcast included)

Complex, multiple-stakeholder projects can easily go awry without a properly functioning team. In many such situations, team commissioning can help ensure the project stays on course.  

Similar in some respects to building commissioning—in which a third-party consultant verifies that a building is operating to its fullest potential as designed—team commissioning involves ensuring that multiple project stakeholders work together in the most efficient manner “to really use the power of the team to get the job done,” says Thom Kurmel of TDK Consulting, a VA Certified Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business specializing in health systems design, organizational performance, business and operational planning, and infrastructure strategies.

As a partnering consultant, Kurmel applies “tried and true methods” to commission a team, including accountability, proper alignment, governance, management expectations, risk management, and identification of roles and responsibilities. “You want to understand all of this at the beginning, and team commissioning allows that conversation to happen so people understand that they’re part of the solution,” he says.  

With the structure and expectations in place, it is imperative to maintain constant communication among the team and to have access to a representative from each stakeholder—including the owner—who can say “yes” or “no” as issues arise. “This shortens the amount of time for decision making, which is essential in a construction project,” Kurmel says. “If you can’t answer those questions quickly, especially during an active acquisition, you’re going to delay the project and it’s going to cost more money. That vexes a lot of teams because they haven’t set themselves up for success by providing the forum for discussion, discernment, decision, and then action.”  

Kurmel holds a Doctorate in Design from Harvard University, a BS in Architecture from the University of Nebraska, is a registered architect, certified design-build professional, and a Fellow in the Health Facility Institute. He also is currently a member of the DBIA Federal Committee and on the National Board of Directors for DBIA. He founded TDK Consultants after serving 30 years on active duty with the U.S. Army, where he was a platoon leader for the Combat Heavy Construction engineer battalion; served as commander, director, and chief of project management with the U.S. Army Health Facility Planning Agency; and was Senior Military Advisor and Chief of Staff, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.  

“Every single day we worked to provide facilities for active-duty soldiers and their families worldwide. So, I got a big dose of how to do this kind of work at a very large scale. I opened a consulting practice to try to continue to support facilities and missions, both in the federal space and the commercial world.” 

Learn more about team commissioning in the two-part podcast below featuring Thom Kurmel and Armand Harpin, IMEG Director of Federal Healthcare. 

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