Expert Commentary

The Super Wrap-Up Administrator

The job of the wrap-up administrator is a super-human one. This article breaks down the myriad of wrap-up administrative responsibilities by project phases, explaining what tasks are performed in each.


Wrap-Up Programs
October 2000

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's the super wrap-up administrator!

Here is a position that few aspire to but many fall upon by accident sometime in their career. It takes a super person to tackle the myriad of responsibilities performed by this individual. In addition, there are some special personality traits the administrator must possess to succeed. They really do need to jump tall buildings at a single bound.

Why do you think that the greatest misconception of wrap-ups by suspicious owners is the issue of the administrative burden? "You mean I have to do all that?" the owner asks, referring to the overwhelming administrative tasks. "No you don't," I usually answer, "Because the brokerage community has professionals experienced in construction projects and wrap-ups in particular who will take this burden off your shoulders."

Before we go any further, it might be wise to explain this administrative concept briefly. Let us go back to that first article in which we discussed the risk manager being told of the new headquarters project. (Refer to Wrap-Ups and the Issue of Critical Mass.) Assuming this will be a wrap-up, the individual who makes all the paperwork disappear on behalf of the owner is also the one person responsible for coordinating all the administrative functions associated with the wrap-up. More on those actual functions later.

Administrator Position

Can you imagine what a job description for an administrator would look like? They must be able to write with both the left and right hand in order to handle all the paperwork. They must be able to listen to a multitude of problems from at least six different people at the same time. How about being strong-willed enough to tell a contractor, "Hey! Get that hard hat on!" while enrolling another group of contractors and at the same time presiding over a pre-bid meeting.

Sounds onerous, does it not? Well we should pause and really give thanks to those who tread these rough waters for simply the pride of doing a good job. They are the glue that keeps it all together for the wrap-up project.

Okay, so I'm painting a somewhat exaggerated picture—but not by that much. I often tell new clients and wrap-up prospects that the purchase of the "insurance," or in other words the transactionary process, takes on a lesser role in wrap-ups then other types of insurance programs. "Wait, you mean to tell me that the insurance transaction means little?" I am often asked. Not entirely, but what I am saying is that the selection of the administrator is as critical an issue as which insurance company to select.

The administrator's job starts very early in the construction process. Quite frankly, if I were looking for an administrator, I might look for someone with construction project experience. A good administrator is really just an extension of the construction manager's staff—someone who understands the construction process very well. It certainly does not hurt for that person to possess some basic insurance knowledge.

Early on, the administrator needs to commence a dialogue with the site personnel on a wide range of subjects, including bidding procedures, award notifications, contractor orientation meetings, etc. Oh yes, in case I neglected to mention it, the administrator also needs to know a little something about claims management and job site safety.

Administrator Tasks

Let us examine specifically those activities an administrator will be responsible for. We can place these into four categories: pre-bid, pre-deployment, construction, and post-construction.

Pre-bid. First of all, the standard subcontractor insurance language of the contract needs to be amended with a special insurance addendum. This will include coverage information on the wrap-up, responsibilities of the subcontractors, and forms that are necessary to complete for proper enrollment into the wrap-up. The administrator might also attend a pre-bid meeting, at which time they must instruct the contractors on the implications of the wrap-up and in particular advise them on the bid deduct process. Just think, at this point not one shovelful of dirt has yet been turned.

Pre-deployment. This is the period prior to the contractor actually being on-site. It is not always possible for the enrollment process to take place prior to this point. In a perfect world, the administrator would know of a contract award as soon as possible; which is hopefully prior to the on-site mobilization. Then, there is enough time to have the contractor properly enrolled. Quite often, however, things just do not seem to work that way. Has this ever happened to you? "Hello, we need to mobilize tomorrow, can you do the enrollment at the same time?"

Well, of course, the administrator also plays the role of miracle worker. There is no task too big or small. How about this one? "We need to report a claim. We have an injured worker on-site." (Doesn't seem as if it is a big deal.) The real bad news is that the contractor was never enrolled (oops!). What do we do now?

So, as is obvious from the above, the enrollment process is quite serious. A procedure should be established and signed off by everyone on the site with procurement responsibility. The administrator can only work with the information they have on hand. That is why on certain projects, such as those under a fast-track method or those involving a greater number of contractors then usual, it may actually pay to have the administrator on-site and sitting in the same trailer as the project management personnel. Also, part of the enrollment process is issuing of certificates of insurance, providing a field procedure manual, and monitoring those infamous off-site certificates.

Construction. Did I neglect to mention the need for the administrator to be a "data input" person? The administrator collects all the information generated by the wrap-up program and uses the output to advise the sponsor on a whole assortment of information (i.e., enrollment status, claims reports, safety issues, etc.). During this phase, workers compensation policies are being issued for enrolled contractors, claims are being reported, enrollments are ongoing, payroll reports need to be collected, and contractors need questions answered when necessary.

Post-Construction. It is imperative to the entire process that all contractors complete the necessary paperwork once their work is finished. The administrator needs to work closely with the project people to coordinate the checklist for contractor demobilization. In particular, this is when the contractors' final payroll audit should take place and any allowable adjustments in insurance credits be accounted for.

Conclusion

So, you think it's easy being an administrator. Well, hopefully I have shed some light on that misconception. It is a demanding but also a very rewarding task. The administrator can look at the project once completed and know that they contributed every bit to the overall success of that project without even lifting a hammer. Or was it just a different type of hammer they wielded?


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