Does Your PM Have Your Best Interests at Heart? – Part 3: Budget, Schedule, and Honest Feedback

March 24th, 2015 by Blake Jehle Leave a reply »

In Part 1 and Part 2, we have reviewed some important aspects that you, the Owner, should expect from your project manager on your project. The professionalism, their collaborative ability, their organizational skills, and your PM’s ability to foster a positive team environment are essential to your project’s success. But, alongside these are the meat and potatoes of your project that define success…….your budget, your schedule, and honest feedback.

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During the development of your project budget, has your PM reviewed your proposed costs and given you real world cost examples? Did your PM rely upon their experience and knowledge of the construction market along with the requirements of your project – architectural fees, legal fees, IT costs, furniture, etc.? Did they contrast and compare similar projects to yours? There is nothing worse than getting a third of the way into a project and realizing that you’re 20% over budget or that you have not identified major costs prior to moving forward. Hopefully your PM has scrutinized every line of your budget to limit any potential misses. Each week, your budget should be a topic of conversation and your PM should be providing you consistent updates to indicate any changes (and potential changes) to your budget. If there are cost overruns, your PM should be able to be capture these and communicate to you early.

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As your project moves forward, there may be cost changes due to unforeseen infrastructure conditions, to design changes, to code requirements, and to furniture upgrades. Unexpected changes like this can wreak havoc on a budget that has not been monitored consistently. Is your PM providing you with regular budget updates and off-line conversations about your money? Does your PM question additional fees from vendors as well as provide cost saving solutions? These should be expected from your PM as well as consistent review and tracking of invoices. Keeping track of who is being paid is just as important since liens can be filed against the Owner (or Owner’s landlord) if contractors are not paid within a certain amount of time.

As your project schedule is developed, your PM should be providing you with realistic dates that utilizes historical data along with timelines provided from other vendors of the project team. Hopefully you PM is not attempting to “guess” at overlaps or delays between construction completion and furniture installation without feedback from your project team members. Open discussion in meetings is the best method to insure that everyone is aware of the project deadlines as well as the intended completion date. And, as the project moves forward, your PM should be providing you with scheduling concerns that impact your expected completion date. There is always the potential to have delays with any project, but hopefully your PM is updating you, the Owner, with any schedule changes that need to be communicated up the ladder.


When you first start to budget and schedule your project, your hired PM should provide you with honest feedback and be able to tell you the truth about unrealistic deliverable costs and dates early on. Honest feedback can be a blunt, “No way that can happen” or even a, “Not very feasible, but here are some options and let’s review the potential costs”. Is your PM afraid or unable to tell you the truth about your expectations? And do you receive weekly updates on budget and schedule statuses or just on changes and delays? A professional project manager will brief you on the status of the budget and schedule regularly, not just when there are overwhelming obstructions. And, when you, the Owner, are wanting to approve costs for a “want” and not a “need”, your PM should address this with you and make you aware of the potential impact…………regardless if you like it or not. This gets down to managing the scope of the project. If your scope your creeps away from the original plan, then so does your budget and so does your schedule. Your PM should confront you when your scope has exceeded the original intent and they feel that some items are out of line.
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Without accurate and consistent updates to the budget or schedule, any project has the potential for failure. Hopefully your PM is providing you with consistent information and updates as well as giving you honest feedback that you need. Sometimes these conversations are not easy to listen to, but don’t forget that you hired a PM to manage your company’s project and to look out for the best interests of your firm.

Next post,  we will conclude this series with Part 4 – Added Value…………getting more value than what your fee suggests.


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