Project Managers come in all shapes and sizes and so do the variety of roles they provide during construction projects. So what should a client be looking for in a good project manager?
To answer these questions I am restricting my interpretation of project manager to that of one acting on behalf of a client, overseeing their interests in a construction related project. Hammer swinging project managers are not what this is about! So what makes a good project manager?
So that the needs of the client can be understood fully and important details are not missed. For this to be effective those people with particularly strong characters and self-belief need to have a sense of empathy too. This might sound a bit “fluffy” but if you miss the client’s aims the project can easily go off target wasting everybody’s time, effort and money. Listening can also prove vital in ensuring that records of meetings and discussions are accurately recorded to give a clear audit trail for decision making.
Understanding of Construction
This is where clients are in some ways spoilt for choice with architects, quantity surveyors, building surveyors and professional project managers all vying for their attention. Here at Prendos we believe that the mix of skills and backgrounds within our staff who provide our project management service brings a rounded view of construction, a perspective not necessarily as easily provided by a single service company.
Our team is directed by a building surveyor, led by a chartered quantity surveyor and served by staff with varied backgrounds including school property management and building surveying.
The key to good understanding and communication with your client is that, as project manager, you are in a position to be able to both lead a team of technical consultants and advise your client. With the benefit of knowing the “big picture” you are able to explain to the client what is happening and why. Without a degree of technical knowledge there is a risk of the technical team blinding a project manager with ‘tech speak’ and presenting a solution that may not be the most effective.
A background involving rigorous training in analysis of construction issues can be a great advantage to overseeing and positively challenging the design process. In the role of an independent project manager, the skills learnt as a chartered surveyor come to the fore and add value to clients. Any architects who act as good project managers on their own designed jobs may struggle to be impartial when overseeing the design of other peers.
Much has been made of the “leaky building” problems in New Zealand and there are many reasons why this legacy has arisen. Looking forward, a project manager who is able to either directly or indirectly review the design as it evolves, with an awareness of risk factors that can lead to water ingress, will be a source of comfort to a client. Architects, and of course weather-tightness surveyors, are best placed to provide that added insight to the project.
Building Contract Knowledge
If the role of project manager includes acting as Engineer to the Contract then you must be conversant with the terminology used in the contract you are administering and enforcing. An awareness of different forms of contract agreements will also ensure that the right contract for the job is used.
Building surveyors at Prendos have a wealth of experience in contract administration and awareness of building failings. They can bring that added technical know-how, whilst still acting in a nontechnical role, that can be a great advantage when dealing with site issues that can be monitored and reported to the client in a well informed way.
So when thinking about selecting your project manager do not discount a building surveyor. Building surveyors, with their design knowledge and technical background, have a valuable balance of skills to offer clients.