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Driving Success with Owner Project Requirements

Introduction to Owner Project Requirements

How important are maximizing project efficiencies while minimizing project costs to your organization?  How confident are you in your organization’s ability to optimize efficiencies and costs?  What process(es) does your organization use to ensure consistent success with project delivery?

OPR Defined

Owner Project Requirements, or OPR, continues to be a somewhat obscure term today. Apart from 1) capital project teams at large, well-funded institutions, or 2) owners very familiar with project commissioning, the term is usually unfamiliar to project teams. However, when properly executed during the project planning phase, the development of Owner Project Requirements can become one of the most critical steps in overall project execution.

According to ASHRAE, Owner Project Requirements detail the functional requirements of a project and the expectations of how it will be used. It includes project and design goals, measurable performance criteria, and other critical information.

An OPR can influence the entire project team’s experience and ultimate success of the project. Key project team members generally include representatives from the Client, or Owner; the Architect; the Design Engineer; the Construction Manager (CM); key subcontractors, and ultimately the end-users of a facility or space including researchers, professors, nurses, operators, patients, maintenance workers, cleaning crews, etc.

Skipping the Owner Project Requirements process may prove to be very costly to your project’s overall success. Making this relatively small investment will almost certainly ensure the project is defined and delivered in the most successful manner possible.

OPR Benefits

Engaging All Parties

The greatest value realized through the OPR process is that all involved parties engage in defining the project requirements, more completely considering and delivering to all stakeholder needs. Listening to the concerns, wants, and needs from a variety of stakeholders and including even a few of their recommendations in the design will make for a more successful project and overall efficient operation post-delivery. This certainly applies to healthcare, science & technology, and higher education projects. Stakeholders like patients, customers, operators, maintenance workers, etc. will think of building needs and requirements that even the most seasoned designers will not. The OPR document will serve to optimize project delivery for all interested parties. When the project team works together and commits to following the OPR guidelines, it will result in a reduction of change orders and rework, therefore reducing overall costs. This commitment will help the project team align around the fulfillment of project goals, requirements, and ultimate success.

Efficient Planning & Overall Cost Savings

A successful OPR process should always lead to very meaningful cost savings on a construction project. The scale of those savings depends upon the size and scope of the project, as well as commitment from the project team. For a small, $1 million project, the savings could be less than $20k-$25k, however for a large project in the $100’s of millions, the savings could exceed $1 million, or perhaps even several million dollars. Are you willing to take that risk, or would you prefer to present an efficient and affordable service to your executive team which ensures no detail is missed during the planning process?

Informative Decision Making

The OPR informs the Design and Construction teams from the programming phase through final occupancy and Operational Readiness of the facility on behalf of all the potential end users. Any commissioning firm should be familiar with this process. In fact, it is usually the first, or one of the first project activities a commissioning firm completes and formally documents.

Considering the End-User’s Needs

At Pintail Solutions, we believe the Owner’s Representative or Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) is better suited to perform this service than most commissioning agents. The commissioning agent is a service provider, much like an architect or engineer.

While usually very talented, they tend to operate within a very structured and rigid framework, oftentimes not exploring all the end-user or ‘customer’ needs.

Effective Owner’s Representatives and OPMs become part of the Owner’s team; they don’t operate as a separate entity, but part of the core team whose sole mission is to achieve ALL the client goals and ensure things are done correctly.

Furthermore, commissioning agents, architects, and engineers almost always lack operational experience within the industries they serve, while the Pintail Solutions team has years of experience serving within those industries, bringing critical and unique perspectives to how well the design will meet all of the owner’s needs.

More from the OPR Series:

About the Author: Wes Pooler

Wes Pooler is Pintail Solutions’ Vice President of Facilities Services and offers more than 20 years of experience serving in leadership roles for both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations alike. With nearly 15 years as a healthcare executive, Wes has overseen projects in excess of $150 million, and served as the Operations Section Chief of a hospital incident command system through the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Wes Pooler | VP of Facilities Services | | tel: 207.660.5352

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Pintail Solutions is a niche management advisory firm focused on enabling overall project and portfolio delivery, developing and deploying new business strategies, and delivering construction projects across life science organizations.

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