Archive for February, 2015

Does Your PM Really Have Your Best Interests at Heart? – Part 2: Organizational Skills and Attitude

February 27th, 2015

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the importance of professionalism and ethics from your hired PM. From professional attire, to providing transparency, to being free from any conflicts of interest. In Part 2, we will review organizational skills and attitude that you, the Owner, should expect to receive from your Project Manager.

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ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS

Every project has multiple moving parts that involve large amounts of data, drawings, records and files. These include, but are not limited to, meeting minutes, budgets, schedules, plans, contracts, reports, emails, tasks, etc. One of the jobs of the project manager is to manage these project documents in a manner that provides the owner easy access at all times. And while managing these documents, the project manager should also maintain a positive attitude towards the owner’s project and also one that creates a strong team and not one that divides the team.

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Disarray and Confusion

Does your PM issue meeting agendas the day prior to the meeting and do they arrive with copies to distribute to the project team? Are they prepared with pen and paper? Do they issue meeting minutes within 24 hours following the meeting? This should be a standard deliverable, but it is shocking how many project managers operate in this capacity. If this is reflective of your PM, what does this indicate about the project manager’s organizational skills and their attention to your project?

When specific project tasks are being assigned, how does your PM handle issuing the assignments? Do they assign specific team members with dates and have consistent follow-up at meetings, or are the tasks dropped off from any future discussions? Your PM should review tasks at each weekly meeting and keep track of what is being accomplished and what is still outstanding. This consistent review will keep your team on track and your project moving forward instead of backwards.

Are the documents you receive presented in a readable and professional format that could assist you as you provide updates to Board members and/or the CEO? How does this reflect your position and your office to your high level stakeholders on this project? Your weekly reports from schedule updates, to meeting minutes, to budget reviews need to be presented in a manner that should not require editing on your part. After-all, you are paying for these services.

Order and Structure

Order and Structure

What is your PM’s attendance record to project meetings? Are they consistently late or do they arrive 5 to 10 minutes before the meeting begins? Hopefully your PM attends all of your meetings, or at least provides communication if there is a conflict. As your eyes and ears on the project, you should expect that they attend any meetings impacting your project. And of course, they should be providing you with correspondence to update you about the meeting discussion and the outcome.

ATTITUDE

Does your Project Manager attempt to work with the project team or do they like to yell, scream, and throw team members under the bus? Do they communicate with slang, foul language, or improper jokes?  How does this performance reflect on you, The Owner?  What does this kind of communication reveal about the confidence and skill of the project manager?  As professional project managers, they should be inclusive of everyone on the team and attempt to foster a team like atmosphere with all participants. There are many methods of addressing problems and issues that do not require belittling an individual. If this is typical on one of your projects, then these might be key indicators that your PM has lost his ability to communicate and lead the project team.

Positive Attitude Fosters Collaboration and Cooperation

Positive Attitude Fosters Collaboration and Cooperation

These characteristics are often overlooked by owners and this can have a negative impact on your project’s success. An Owner should request samples of previous deliverables, from minutes to reports to schedules, as well as a clear expectation of what will be provided on their project. It is also beneficial to follow up on references and review how the PM performed on past projects. And utilization of the internet from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets can provide good insight on the person you might hire as your Project Manager.  And most importantly, do your research and call their previous clients!

 

Next week – Part 3 – Budget, Schedule, and Honest Feedback

Does Your PM Really Have Your Best Interests at Heart? – Part 1: Professionalism and Ethics

February 9th, 2015

IMG_2874In the construction industry, project managers are hired across the country to assist Owners with their projects.  They are hired to help you, the Owners, with team communication, managing budgets, scheduling/coordinating vendors, providing recommendations, having the difficult conversations, facilitating meetings, managing important notes and files…………….to the contractor and architect they are the Owner and should perform in the best interests of their Owner’s firm.

However, have you ever questioned whether or not your project manager is performing these duties and actually looking out for you, the Owner’s best interests?  Perhaps the following list of concerns might bring you to question whether or not your project manager is the best fit for your project.  In this series, I will point out some potential indicators that you should consider in evaluating your current and potential project manager.

PART 1 – Professionalism and Ethics

Does your project manager dress professionally and represent a positive image for your firm?  Are they dressed in business suits, or sports coats, or do they come to meetings in worn out golf shirts and faded jeans?  A professional project manager knows that they are an outward projection of their owner, and their Owner’s company, and should project this image to the project team………professional dress and actions should be maintained at all times.

The outward appearance of a project manager can also indicate possible biases or allegiances.  Is your project manager wearing shirts and hats with logos from contractors, consultants or vendors?  Although this might sound irrelevant, it could reveal hidden loyalties.  What does this mean about their ethics and objectivity? Owners should insist on professionalism from their project managers.

There are many real estate and property management firms that also provide project management services to clients.  These services can be top notch, but does this have the potential to cause interference with your company’s best interests?  This arrangement has the potential for the PM to work on behalf of their company (the landlord) and not in your best interests (the tenant/Owner).  Have you looked at independent PM firms that might be in the best interest of your project’s success?   Owners should expect that the project manager is acting as a steward of their interests!

Mike Stagner leads a project meeting

Mike Stagner leads a project meeting

Frequently, your project manager will need to conduct interviews to hire architects, GCs, and other consultants.  How are these firms presented to you?  Does your PM provide you with a list of reputable firms and then help you grade them based on the interview and their proposals, or are they only endorsing architects or contractors “that are approved by their company’s senior management”?  Or, do they try to influence your decision for one specific firm without a clear grading matrix?  Owners should expect a fair, honest and transparent process to “on board” designers, consultants & contractors to the project. 

Does your project manager defend the contractor or consultants on a consistent basis?  Or do they openly push back against these groups to represent your interests?  This is a good indicator of where the project manager’s allegiances might lie.   Owners should expect that the project manager is free from conflicts of interest.

In some instances, some PM providers have hired contract (1099) employees to manage projects.  Since they are not an actual employee of the PM firm, are they representing the values and goals of that firm that you hired?  Will they perform under the codes of conduct and ethics of their contracted company?  What are the impacts to your project if this person leaves and then who will replace them?  Owners should insist on a project management firm with full time/long term employees that represent the culture and ethics of the project management firm.

As the Owner, you should demand the best out of your project manager.  You expect the same from your employees and staff, so it’s no different when hiring a project manager.  Never forget that it’s your money, your objectives and your investment and hopefully your PM will RESPECT that as well.  If you set these standards early, then your project will run smoother, your teams will work more cohesively, and you will have a project that will be delivered on time and within budget.

Guaranteed success for everyone involved.

Next Week – Part 2: Organizational Skills and Attitude !