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Project Management

Project Management is often the best, and the worst job in all construction. A Project Manager (PM) is essentially the CEO of the project with all of the responsibility to deliver the project on time and within budget. The PM like a CEO reports to a Board of Directors. In construction we call them the General Contractor or The Owner (as some Project Managers are Owner's Representatives) or the Architect.

Being a PM is essentially being a highly paid and experienced Superintendent with the daily accountability for the project along with all of the financial accountability for success or failure.

To be a great Project Manager that person must have a unique personality and the ability to wear many hats at moments notice. A great Project Manager is truly a people person with the ability to think fast on their feet while maintaining an affinity for creative problem solving. Well, that kind of describes a great Project Manager. 

Here is a more accurate description of a Project Manager.  The successful Project Manager must be able to:

  • Read people from a variety of trades, EDUCATION, REGIONAL and ethnic backgrounds.

  • Get the best from their people at all times by motivating them to stay on target.

  • Act as referee in the disputes that will inevitably arise between subcontractors.

  • Perform as a highly skilled negotiator to get the best results for the money spent.

  • Fairly and equitably represent the project and be willing to implement sound ethics as they apply to the letter of the contract.

  • Maintain a thick skin because they will receive stress from all directions and under that stress they need to remain focused at all times so the project dynamics do not break down.

The Project Manager is the project owner and responsible for the ultimate success of the project, payments to the contractors, maintaining positive relations within the local community including local, state and federal agencies, and developing a positive resume for the actual financial Owner, the Contractor or all involved so they are not only eagerly welcomed but preferred for future projects.

According to Sidney M. Levy in his book titled, "Project Management in Construction" Mr. Levy on page 9 of the book reminds us that "The project manager must not forget the seven criteria essential to the successful completion of a project.

  1. The project was completed on time.

  2. The complete project cost remained within budget.

  3. The quality levels expected were achieved.

  4. The project was completed with no unresolved disputes and no outstanding claims.

  5. The contractor maintained a professional relationship with the designers-the architect and engineers.

  6. The contractor maintained a mutually beneficial relationship with all subcontractors and vendors.

  7. The contractor-client relationship was a good one."

A project manager is ultimately responsible for the successful orchestration and delivery of the project to everyone's satisfaction. Good, let alone GREAT, project managers are worth the money. The money saved from their astute management skills alone more than pays for their compensation.

Recently we were involved in a series of large retail projects. The owner hired us to be his representative and the project manager of all projects. The services we provided included managing the projects from preconstruction through commissioning and close-out.  Even though we had a clearly defined contract describing our agreed upon fees the client still wanted to hammer us on our fees at the end of the projects. We saved them over $3 million in one year, provided value-engineering services which greatly improved their final product, developed their store Brand, and created a complete detailed project manual for everything from paint specs to all of the FF&E (Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment ) items including installation procedures.

We billed them just 1% of the total project cost, delivered every project ahead of schedule and saved them a documented amount over $3MM on completed construction valued over $17MM and they wanted us to reduce our price $20,000. In the end they paid per the contract however, we still ate at least $2,500 worth of outstanding expenses. With some clients it is just their human nature to ignore agreements and feel entitled to deeper discounts. From our perspective we saw our successful performance as undervalued and felt we deserved an exceptional bonus.

The bottom-line is the contract is the contract and to retain repeat business customer relations are measured in $$.

On the flip side of this after saving a Client just over $500,000 on a project the Client was so happy they wrote us a check for a $58,000 bonus.

So you see it all comes down to perspectives and personalities.  For some it's never enough while others are truly grateful.

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