Top 4 tips for a successful fast track food project

Posted in: Food & Beverage


Maze with man heading to flag

In today’s highly competitive food industry, speed to market is often critical to success. As a recent Food Engineering article reveals, the #1 trend of Most Concern to Food Processors is fast project deployment. This is largely due to the current economic environment and constantly changing consumer preferences. Food and Beverage companies need to grow and adapt their facilities to meet these trends as quickly as possible.

However, as technology advances and regulations increase, the details necessary for project success become more complex. How can processors successfully navigate the ins and outs of fast project execution? Throughout a long career on the client side of the food industry, I have learned some useful lessons.

1. The devil is in the details. I’ve heard people use this phrase since I started in the food industry over 30 years ago, and it remains just as true today. On projects of all sizes, not paying attention to the details can extend a project timeline. For example:

  • Previous project soil tests were fine, so testing the soil in a new area was skipped in the preliminary engineering stage. As the project proceeds, a tank is found underground with contaminated soil in the new project area, requiring extensive soil sampling as well as soil and tank removal. The result: added scope, increased cost and a lot more time to the project schedule.
  • A new expansion requires a 20-space parking lot addition, but the city stops the permit request until a stormwater survey is conducted for your entire site. The additional surveying and potential updates to meet codes in non-conforming areas can significantly increase the project’s cost and time.
  • A food processor needs a new oven to meet increased processing demands. The environmental permit approval time was not included in the original project timeline and months are added to the schedule.

Successfully identifying the critical details early and responding to the “devil” in the details is essential while fast tracking a food project.

2. Standardize your project process as much as possible. If you approach every project as if it were your first, you will be unable to focus on the project-specific details as much as needed. These details are often important to the success of your product and therefore your business. Standardizing project execution and processes helps the team learn which details to watch out for every time, so you can build on your own experience. This way, you don’t have to relearn the same lessons every time.

3. Use your whole team including valuable partners. Everyone on a project team has different strengths and experiences. With the right partnerships, our clients can benefit from years of combined lessons learned.

4. Build strong partner relationships. Some firms will claim that they are exceptional at everything, but that’s not realistic. Just like with a team of people, every firm has different experiences and capabilities. To give our clients the best service possible, we at Mead & Hunt work with partners whose strengths complement our own.

As speed to market becomes increasingly important in the food industry, understanding how to execute a fast-track food project successfully is a necessity. We at Mead & Hunt are up to the task. By learning from our own and others’ past experience, we can provide our food clients the project speed they require without sacrificing quality.


Jeff Janis

About the Author

Jeff Janis is a Project Management Lead with Mead & Hunt’s Food & Beverage group. After 30 years of working in the client-side of the food industry, Jeff joins Mead & Hunt with a deep understanding of what it takes to make a successful food plant. Away from work, Jeff enjoys time with friends and family. One of his favorite pass times is returning golf balls to the wild at local courses across the Midwest.

Read more posts by Jeff Janis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *