As we continue to explore the various aspects of creating a successful cannabis building project, we wish to focus today on the four high-level phases involved in the development of a construction project as typically would be established through standard project management procedures and protocols.

The project manager and project team have one shared goal in mind – that is to execute the work of the project for the purpose of meeting the project’s objectives. Every project has a beginning, a middle period during which activities move the project toward completion, and an ending. A standard project typically has the following four major phases, each with its own agenda of tasks and issues: initiation, planning, implementation, and closure. Together these phases represent the path a project takes from the beginning to its conclusion and are generally referred to as the project life cycle.

 Initiation Phase

During the first of these phases, the project objectives are defined. In the case of a cannabis facility, identifying the client’s needs related to their business and operational objectives need to be clearly outlined. An appropriate response to the need is documented in a business plan with recommended solution options. A feasibility study may be necessary to further investigate whether each option addresses the project objective to allow for a recommended solution to be developed. Issues of feasibility on whether the client “can” do the project versus justification of “should” we do the project are addressed.

The issue of feasibility is a necessary step the clients needs to undertake before they move forward towards applying for a license under the local regulatory authorities and before the hiring of the appropriate consulting team. Once the recommended solution is approved by the client team, a project is initiated for delivery of the approved solution and a project manager sets out to identify the major deliverables and the identifies the various project teams and team members required. Approval is then sought by the project manager to move onto the planning phase.

 Planning Phase

This next phase is where the project solution is further developed in as much detail as possible and where the steps necessary to meet the project’s objective are planned. In this step, the team identifies all of the work to be done, outlining the project’s tasks and resource requirements, along with the strategy for producing them. This is also referred to as scope management.

A project plan is created outlining the activities, tasks, dependencies, and timeframes. The project manager coordinates the preparation of a project budget by providing cost estimates for the labor, equipment, and materials costs. The budget is used to monitor and control cost expenditures during project implementation.

Once the project team has identified the work, prepared the schedule, and estimated the costs, the three fundamental components of the planning process are complete. This is an excellent time to identify and try to deal with anything that might pose a threat to the successful completion of the project. This is called risk management.

In risk management, high-threat potential issues are identified along with the action that is to be taken on each potential problem, either to reduce the probability that the problem will occur or to reduce the impact on the project if it does occur.  The review of risk is frequently done by a consultant specializing in risk management analysis. This is also a good time to ensure all project stakeholders are identified and establish a communication plan describing the information needed and the delivery method to be used to keep them informed.

Finally, a quality plan, providing quality targets, assurance, and control measures, along with an acceptance plan, listing the criteria to be met to ensure a quality project is delivered needs to be developed. At this point, the project us essentially planned in detail and is ready to be executed.

 Implementation (Execution) Phase

During this third phase, the project plan is put into motion and the work of the project is performed. It is important to maintain control and communicate efficiently and consistently during this phase. Progress is continuously monitored and appropriate adjustments are made and recorded as variances from the original plan. In any project, a project manager spends most of the time in this step. During project implementation, people are carrying out the tasks, and progress information is being reported through regular team meetings.

The project manager uses this information to maintain control over the direction of the project by comparing the progress reports with the project plan to measure the performance of the project activities and take corrective action as needed. The first course of action should the project being going off course, is to return to the original plan. If that cannot happen, the team should identify variations from the original plan and then record and publish modifications to the plan that are acceptable to all. Throughout this phase, project sponsors and other key stakeholders need be advised of the project’s status according to the agreed-on frequency and format of communication. The project plan and related schedule should be updated and published on a regular basis.

Status reports should always emphasize the anticipated end point in terms of cost, schedule, and quality of deliverables. Each project deliverable produced should be reviewed for quality and measured against the acceptance criteria. In the case of a cannabis facility, once all of the deliverables have been completed and the client has accepted the final completed building, the project is ready for closure.

Closing Phase

During the final closure, or completion phase, the emphasis is not only on the commissioning of the building to ensure all systems are operational and the building has been constructed in accordance with the signed off/accepted contract documentation, but also includes the handing over of project documentation to the client, finalizing supplier contracts, releasing project resources, and communicating the closure of the project to all stakeholders.

A last remaining step, which is sometimes overlooked as team members may have already moved onto other projects, is to conduct a lessons-learned study to examine what went well and what needed to be improved. Through this type of analysis, the wisdom of experience is transferred back to the project organization, which will help future projects.


In our upcoming blogs, we will undertake more detailed discussions on each phase of the project and the typical tasks required to be executed for successful delivery of the project.



By Robert Mulyk – Director of BenchmarkBUILD for TheraCann International.

For more information on  the Cannabis Facility Building design and our services,  please contact Robert Mulyk, Director of BenchmarkBUILD for TheraCann International.