Efficiently Manage the Site Development Process: Lessons Learned

Efficiently Manage the Site Development Process: Lessons Learned

Efficiently Manage the Site Development Process: Lessons Learned

In my role as a CFO/COO of a national solar developer, I have acquired valuable insights into managing the site development process. These lessons have been integrated into the industry-specific software my company recently launched. www.devholderp.com

This article aims to support your efforts in swiftly and effectively developing multiple land sites at the same time.

While I may not be a land developer myself, I am well-versed in organizing and managing sites specific to the solar industry—sites that come with high costs, long lead times (18 to 24 months), and a high rate of fallout.

Here are some essential strategies to consider:

Standardized Templates and Checklist. Utilize fully developed checklists and standardized templates to ensure everyone is on the same page. This helps avoid overlooking crucial tasks. For instance, we had a developer who ignored the title process because he believed it was not his responsibility. It set four projects back well over four months. By using a standard template, the company's expectations are clearly outlined.

Track Costs and Execution Dates TogetherMost employees on the Site Development team believe costs are the responsibility of the finance team. Most project management systems encourage that thinking by tracking execution milestones and costs completely separately. Ignoring cost tracking leads to too excessive meetings with the finance team and poor cash forecasts. 

Use a Project Management System with Dynamic SchedulingMost project management systems use static scheduling. Static scheduling allows tasks to have a start date prior to today. The concept is very outdated and it gives a false reading on the progress of a project. 

In the Large-Scale Solar industry, projects take at least a year to “Site Develop” and another year to COD. Every 3 to 4 months we did a “deep dive” on all the projects and the negative surprises were endless!

It is always better to know and have the opportunity to react than to “fool yourself” and have “surprises” your company could not recover from. An associate of mine always said delays were a fact of life with Site development. They are, but the sooner you understand the impact they have on the future of the company, the better off you will be.

Keep Documents Organized and AccessibleWhether you are a site developer that sells its projects or a Develop and Hold company financing your projects, you will ultimately need an organized data room. 

This requirement is so important, we built the data room right into the software. Imagine having a software that not only manages and forecasts project completions, but also provides for the accumulation and sharing of documents as part of the “workflow” of Site development. 

No more jumping between one system to store documents and another to manage the project…everything is under one pane of glass.

Co-Develop Projects in one Systemt is hard enough trying to figure out what your team is doing. Imagine working with an outside Co-Developer on a project and you are both using different systems. Set up your system to allow for collaboration with partners.

Set Up Projects to Move Seamlessly to the Next PhaseCreate a cohesive team that understands the importance of transitioning projects smoothly to the next phase. One handover should not disrupt downstream departments. Working together should feel like a relay race where the baton is cleanly passed, not thrown randomly with a vague "good luck finding it" approach.

By implementing these strategies and leveraging the insights gained, you can effectively manage the site development process, maximizing efficiency and success in your solar development projects.



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