Top 10

Top 25 GBA Resources

GBA provides hundreds of highly effective resources developed to satisfy the unique needs of geoprofessionals, giving members essential tools for achieving success. However, we also know that it can be overwhelming to sort through them all. So to help, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 GBA resources by numbers ordered over the last six months. This is a great place to start your exploration of GBA’s resources, or to get acquainted with a publication loved by your peers and “new to you”.

The list below is the top 10 GBA resources, in order by popularity, with the most ordered resource at the top. Topics cover a wide range of geoprofessional business issues, so there is certain to be something on this list that could help your business succeed. Select a title to learn more and order it today.

Top 10 GBA Resources

CONTRACT REFERENCE GUIDE, FOURTH EDITION

This new edition not only provides significant updates from the prior editions, but also includes important new topics, such as Climate Change, Indemnities and Hold Harmless Provisions in Favor of the Consultant, and Instruments of Professional Service.

Since contracts that reflect a fair and balanced allocation of risk and reward are essential to any risk management program, we hope that this Guide will help to promote the success of your firm. The Guide includes sample recommended language, supported by explanations of the legal issues involved in each, and suggested negotiation strategies. The Guide was designed to foster good risk management while maintaining and enhancing client relationships.

A great tool for project managers and others!

GBA’s Contract Reference Guide, Fourth  Edition, now is available to our members in e-book version, available in Mobi File (PC version) or EPub file (Apple products) as well as a PDF and in a hard copy version.  The searchable, flip-book allows you to take the Guide with you on any device for quick reference at your fingertips.

GBA BUSINESS BRIEF FINANCIAL SURVEY: FISCAL YEAR 2019-2020 FINANCIAL-PERFORMANCE-SURVEY

The newest GBA Business Brief — available only to members and free of charge – comprises the GBA Business Practices Committee’s 2019-2020 Financial-Performance Survey report, covering key financial-performance issues surveyed firms reported. These include pre-distribution profit, discretionary-profit distribution, net multiplier, utilization rate, pre-distribution overhead, marketing costs, group insurance, collections, and fee backlog.

PRACTICE ALERT 05: TABOO WORDS

This is the first of a series of ASFE Practice Alerts developed by GBA’s Practice Education Committee to examine language use. This one focuses on six “taboo words”: certify, inspect, monitor, supervise, safety, and represent. The six are not necessarily dangerous in and of themselves. How they are used and their context are important. Nonetheless, the consequences of using any one of them improperly can be so severe, many risk managers believe the words should be used only on a carefully considered, by-exception basis.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THIS GEOTECHNICAL-ENGINEERING  REPORT

This report transmittal cover sheet identifies limitations in geotechnical engineering reports and stresses the need for the geotechnical engineer’s involvement throughout the course of the project.

FUNDAMENTAL ELEMENTS FOR PROJECT MANAGERS

Effective Project Managers are key to the success of all geoprofessional businesses.  GBA recognizes development of highly effective Project Managers requires training, experience, and mentorship in numerous areas.  GBA has developed, with support of member-firm volunteers, a Project Manager essential skills training course to support and augment training available by member-firms.

GBA BUSINESS BRIEF : FISCAL YEAR 2018-2019 FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE – SURVEY REPORT

The GBA Business Brief — available only to members and free of charge – comprises the GBA Business Practices Committee’s 2018-2019 Financial-Performance Survey report, covering key financial-performance issues surveyed firms reported. These include pre-distribution profit, discretionary-profit distribution, net multiplier, utilization rate, pre-distribution overhead, marketing costs, group insurance, collections, and fee backlog.

GBA BEST PRACTICES: E-COMMUNICATION

This GBA Best Practices replaces Practice Alert 46 which focused on e-communications. It is revised to address recent usage and offers more suggestions to the problems. As its title suggests, covers e-mail, instant messaging texting, and the use of Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and so on. It is organized as a series of five problems, each accompanied by suggested solutions. The five problems are:

THE ASFE GUIDE TO THE IN-HOUSE REVIEW OF REPORTS

This 20-page guide was created to help GBA-Member Firms review their proposals and reports internally. It provides guidance to report writers, including a definition of an effective report, a list of elements that should be attached to a report, and recommendations for communicating with the reviewer once the report has been submitted. It also relates instruction to reviewers, including recommendations for conducting the initial review, revising comments, keeping a report control log, and communicating with the report writer throughout the review process. A separate section sets forth general guide questions relating to contractual obligations, technical content, risk management, and clarity of presentation. The guide also includes a sample report control log, a report transmittal cover sheet, and a section that identifies commonly used engineering jargon and recommended alternative words.

GBA GUIDE TO THE IN-HOUSE REVIEW OF GEOPROFESSIONAL REPORTS

The publication provides step-by-step instructions – as well as overarching concepts – for report writers and reviewers. Organized into three principal content areas to help reviewers consider major issues and to give report writers a clear framework for preparing reports and considering reviewers’ comments, the guide addresses a report’s ability to satisfy the contractual obligations it was intended to fulfill; the quality of its technical and risk-management content; and the clarity of presentation. Supplemental materials include a report-control log, copies of GBA’s widely used report-insert sheets (geotechnical, environmental, and construction-materials engineering and testing), and three best-practices monographs covering “taboo” words, absolutes, and “slipshod synonyms.”

LUNCH & LEARN: Risky Language

Words can kill, or at least create a great many difficulties, especially when they are the wrong words, like taboo words whose legal meanings may be far different from what they seem to imply. This well-crafted Lunch & Learn seminar discusses the U.S. legal system and why geoprofessionals need to avoid it as a dispute-resolution forum, then addresses a variety of taboo and other words and phrases that can result in formal dispute resolution and litigation becoming unavoidable, time-consuming, costly, and frustrating. GBA’s Practice Education Committee developed the Lunch & Learn seminar series to help GBA-Member Firms conduct high-quality, to-the-point seminars for members of staff and, possibly, others, such as client and colleague staffs. Each Lunch & Learn seminar outlines key points to be made, and includes note-taking forms participants can use to help reinforce key lessons learned, as well as a PowerPoint presentation. Each seminar uses GBA materials that members can obtain free of charge, in unlimited quantity. Many of these also are available to nonmembers, for a fee.

Top 10 Case Histories

GBA CASE HISTORY NO. 108

GBA-Member Firm provided suggested changes to a sewer pipe design in order to keep construction moving forward on a five-story senior-living facility.  Four years later, swelling clays caused the sewer line to back-up and the lower-level slab began showing heaving related distress.  That good deed with other project related complications resulted in a $25 million claim that required an extensive defense of contract limitations of liability, standards of care, and project documentation.

GBA CASE HISTORY NO. 82

A client planning to purchase a site said “enough is enough” after contamination was discovered. The site’s owner was willing to pay for additional services, however, so the project moved forward. But that was a serious mistake, the Member Firm learned. If only the firm had spent 30 minutes inquiring about the new client’s reputation,  $84,000 worth of litigation could have been avoided.

GBA CASE HISTORY NO. 85

A firm, retained on an on-call basis, conducted 282 moisture and density tests during backfilling of utility lines in a housing subdivision. Ten months after completion of the infrastructure, the ground surface and sidewalks settled over the sanitary lines in three areas. The principal-in-charge reviewed test data, spoke with the resident engineer on the project, and learned that his firm’s responsibility was slight. Nonetheless, he provided $6,000 worth of remedial services to fix the problem and convinced the contractor to contribute even more. By doing so, he avoided litigation and gained a “client for life.”

GBA CASE HISTORY NO. 80

Knowing how “tricky” serving a housing developer can be, this GBA member took pains in contract formation, dotting every “I” and crossing every “T.” The firm was also pretty effective when it came to L’s, having its client accept a $25,000 limitation of liability (LoL) provision. The contract also detailed the scope, which comprised services required to deliver a report, but did not include any field services.

GBA CASE HISTORY NO. 84

A Member Firm’s preliminary estimate did not bring in the anticipated engagement, so it just forgot about it.  But not only had the estimate been used as a final report, it was applied to a project whose size was changed. The GBA-Member Firm learned what it should already have known: The size of a risk is often inversely proportional to the size of the project. In this case, a hoped-for $50 profit cost the firm well over $2.5 million, not including the value of the time it had to spend or the opportunity cost.

GBA CASE HISTORY NO. 76

“No good deed goes unpunished” was the lesson learned by this Member Firm, whose project manager did a favor for a friend. When the friend failed to follow the project manager’s recommendations, the friend forgot that the project manager had ever made them and filed suit. During discovery, a small note that should have been purged from the file gave the plaintiff the right to recover treble damages, the client said. “We’ll win this in court,” the Member Firm said. It didn’t.

GBA CASE HISTORY NO. 83

An optimistic scope of service should be implemented by highly qualified staff, not junior employees. A Member Firm submitted the lowest bid for a project, assuming it could rely on its experience with a similar site about a half-mile away. The low-cost employees assigned to the project failed to realize that dune sand could cover the peat deposits of former marshes.

GBA CASE HISTORY NO. 81

Not knowing your client’s preferences and expectations can be expensive, as one member learned on a nuclear power plant project. The client orally authorized the Member Firm to begin construction materials engineering and testing (CoMET) services and dictated the format for test reporting. The project manager complied, but learned the client was dissatisfied during a collection call. He thought the problem had been solved by changing procedures, but the client’s demand letter proved him wrong.

GBA CASE HISTORY 101

When a GBA-Member Firm realized it had committed a serious error while conducting construction-materials engineering and testing (CoMET) services for a new hospital building, it knew it was in trouble. The project – a 738,000-square-foot hospital – was the key element of a high-profile, $800-million project and the constructor-in-charge faced significant penalties if it failed to complete its work by the targeted date.

GBA CASE HISTORY NO. 107

After terminating an employee for attendance and poor job performance, a member firm is faced with alleged violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ATDA). This Case History emphasized Project Managers must be trained in basic human resources (HR) issues, and emphasizes, among other things, the importance of documentation when dealing with employee performance management.