Prendos.PM Senior Project Manager Mark Abrey tells us about the role of the project manager in a property or construction project, and why it’s so important to engage a professional.
Property and construction projects can be daunting. They typically involve a vast number of complex processes and risks and, while many of our clients are experts in their own field, they often have little to no project delivery experience. On top of this, there are harsh financial implications for clients and investors should the project not be deemed a success.
That’s why it’s so important to engage a professionally qualified project manager in the initial project stages. Not only do they understand the unique requirements of a project, but they can mitigate risk and ensure the project is delivered within the constraints of scope, time, cost and quality.
What is construction project management?
In general terms, construction project management is a professional service where processes are applied to ensure the successful delivery of a project. A project manager leads the stakeholders and consultants and manages all related processes – from the early planning stages through design development, tendering and construction to project close out. Their main objective is to facilitate the process and deliver a project that not only meets requirements, but exceeds client expectations.
i) Acquisition and initial stages
In the early stages of a new project, a project manager can help by conducting feasibility and viability studies to identify project strengths and weaknesses – ultimately ensuring the project is profitable and will achieve the client’s requirements.
They will then develop the client’s brief by establishing project objectives, priorities and constraints, including identifying potential risks. They can also assist the client in identifying suitably qualified consultants, developing a procurement strategy and generating an indicative project timeline.
ii) Planning, design and tendering stages
During these stages, the project manager will compile a project execution plan, clearly articulate the project brief to the appointed consultants, and facilitate the development of the concept design. Once the project is deemed feasible and the client approves the concept design, the project manager will oversee the design development process – ensuring the detailed design is created within scope, time, cost and quality constraints.
Next, the project manager coordinates the tendering process by preparing tender documentation in consultation with the designer and cost consultant. They then manage the tendering process – identifying suitable contractors, calling for tenders and formally responding to any queries raised. Finally, they obtain advice from the cost consultant and adjudicate tender submissions before issuing a recommendation to the client for approval.
iii) Construction stage
Here, the project manager is responsible for the management and administration of the construction contract and processes, to facilitate successful execution of the works. Under the NZS3910 contract, they’ll also fulfill the function of Engineer’s Representative and assist the Engineer to Contract in administering the construction contract. Prendos.PM’ senior project managers are also well versed in the role of Engineer to Contract.
Overall, the project manager is responsible for coordinating the project team throughout the construction phase. They will appoint contractors on behalf of the client, review contract documentation, hand over the site, develop project protocols, attend site and chair meetings, attend to issues raised, respond to requests for information, issue instructions, monitor contractor performance and manage the programme. They’ll also ensure risk mitigation measures are implemented on site, quality is monitored, non-conformance is addressed and legislative compliance is adhered to – including health and safety. A great project manager will provide the client with regular progress updates and keep stakeholders informed at all times, including project cost reporting and management.
The project manager is responsible for closing out the project, obtaining all handover documentation (certificates, warranties, as-builts, O&M manuals etc.) before a Practical Completion Certificate is issued. They also monitor the defect liability period and ensure any defects are rectified by the contractor before the Final Completion Certificate is issued. Once all requirements have been met, they prepare a project close out report for the client, discuss lessons learned and gather any performance feedback.
What if things go wrong?
Sometimes, projects don’t go as planned and disputes can arise. A skilled project manager will be a decisive leader with strong interpersonal skills and the ability to stay calm under pressure in order to resolve conflicts. Having an innate understanding of people and construction practices helps, so they can resolve conflicts in a fair and reasonable manner while considering the best interests of all stakeholders.
Things to look for in a project manager
When engaging a project manager for a property or construction project, it’s important to consider their past project experience, technical abilities and professional qualifications. This will help you determine whether they have the competencies required to successfully deliver your project.
A project manager must be technically competent and have a sound understanding of a variety of construction processes and methodologies. A previous track record of onsite experience helps here, as it gives a well-rounded understanding of building processes, techniques, materials, resources and finishes. They should also be able to understand onsite construction processes, including human resource requirements and lead times, in order to appropriately allocate resources and durations to project programmes.
Professional qualifications give a project manager further insight into the construction science and management practices needed to successfully deliver a variety of complex property and construction projects. They introduce subjects like building science, business management, commercial law and organisational behaviour, which can differentiate a trade experienced project manager from a professionally qualified one.
Professional memberships also ensure a project manager stays up-to-date with industry and legislative advancements through continuing professional development. On top of this, professional bodies have a code of conduct to ensure their members not only act in an ethical manner, but maintain positive working relationships throughout the project lifecycle.
In summary, engaging a professionally qualified project manager for any construction or property project will not only help you plan and deliver a high-quality project, but save you a great deal of time, money and stress in the long run.
Mark has a Master of Science degree in Construction Management and over 7 years’ experience in the construction industry. A senior project manager based in the Bay of Plenty, he is passionate about construction project management. His interpersonal skills, organisational abilities and attention to detail see him successfully deliver projects on time, within budget and to a high standard.