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What should you expect from a professional Project Manager?

Over the past five years, I have only lost out on two potential jobs to other PM’s.

In both cases it was down to cost; with my fees appearing to be more expensive, and in both cases the job stalled part way through the actual works. One of the projects involved a main contractor and the other used sub-contractors, so no pattern.

So what should you be getting for your money from a PM, or more to the point; what should you be receiving irrespective of what you are paying?

The problem is, as any regular readers of my literary waffle will recognise, every architect, surveyor, ice cream salesmen and their dog professes to provide PM services (no offence to ice-cream salesmen). But how many of them have ever constructed a building or more importantly dealt closely with the people who do the works. It’s all very well being able to write a generic specification or create a programme, visit site once a week and sign off on payments, but how many of these so called PM professionals would truly recognise if the works are being completed correctly or on time, and have the gumption to do something about it if not.

I firmly believe that if you are going to place your faith and money into the services of a PM, you should expect him (or her) to be ensuring that the project is in safe, strong hands.

This means having the experience and knowledge to vet the builder/contractors in the first place, but then to guide, instruct and regulate the actual works afterwards.

I have been involved in the mechanics of construction for my entire adult life, so along with the managerial, technical and legislative training, I completely understand both how to construct and also how not to, so I can recognise if things are not going according to plan.

I have been asked to rescue one particular job where a PM and a Main Contractor was involved on a significant sized (but not particularly complicated) renovation and extension project. Part the way through, the builder has scarpered, leaving the PM (now relieved of his post) falling short for several reasons.

Firstly; it transpires that the builder had ‘bought the job’ meaning he had gone in cheap to win the works, probably just to help his cash-flow. PM recommended that the builder be awarded the job when in reality he should have been advising caution to the client that the works could not realistically be completed for that amount. Many clients are seduced by the cheaper price but a decent PM should have the experience to know that such a scenario is heading for tears before bed time even at the outset, and steer client away.

Secondly; PM who was also providing Contract Administrator duties and therefor signing off on payments, had taken the builders valuations at face value. So when builder disappeared it transpired that the certified and paid for works were largely incomplete and so ‘over-drawn’.

Thirdly; much of the works were sub-standard, but not recognised by PM due to his lack of construction knowledge and experience, resulting in considerable cost to rectify even before picking up the pieces of moving forward.

A triple whammy due to the wrong PM choice.

You can guess the moral of the storey!

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