An Introduction To Project Management

In the first of a series of posts about project management and build projects, we tackle the basics and outline the benefits of hiring a project manager.

What is project management?

RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) define project management as:

“the management of people, time and costs…to ensure the efficient commencement, progress and conclusion of a project.

Responsibilities include design, procurement, planning authorities, budget, contractors, clients, change, the lifecycle of the project, document management and other areas.

Project management in the construction industry also has to comply with sustainability, insurance, health and safety, and legal requirements.”

The main challenge is to achieve all of the project’s goals within any given constraints, e.g. timescales and budget.

Project management
At what stage is a project manager needed?

Project management can start from Day 1. You can appoint a project manager to pull your design team together, obtain quotes from different professionals, work with them to develop the brief, and manage them through the design stages to ensure you reach a signed off design that meets your brief. Although for a small to medium-sized project, the client usually fulfils this role.

During the construction phase, there are numerous third parties that need to be managed: the design team, building inspector, construction professionals (such as surveyors, structural engineers, M&E engineers), groundwork contractor (if required), main contractor, sub-contractors and specialist trades, and numerous suppliers.

Why pay someone to manage your build project?

We often find that clients want to save money by managing their project themselves. It’s understandable but unfortunately almost always a false economy.

Most people have some experience of managing personal or work projects. However, the world of construction is very different – knowledge of construction terminology, building materials, the order in which jobs need to be done and when to schedule various third parties all add to the complexity. So, unless you have a background in the construction industry or have already managed a build project, it will be a steep learning curve and stressful!

When you’re about to spend a lot of money on your property, not only do you want to ensure you get the best value for your money, you want to protect the investment of time and money you’re putting into the process and avoid costly mistakes.

What are the benefits of hiring a project manager?
  • If the project manager is a cost consultant (RICS Quantity Surveyor) they can cost the construction at an early stage and provide advice on ‘value engineering’ (reducing costs)
  • A project manager can advise on the best procurement strategy for your project, for example:
    • Design and build (where the contractor is your sole point of contact and all design is procured or carried out by them)
    • Traditional procurement (you appoint a designer and run a competitive tender for the construction phase)
    • Or a variation on those themes (for example you may already have a preferred contractor so no tender is required)
  • Prior to work starting on site, they will ensure the design professionals are delivering to the brief and their contracts.
  • They can act as an independent ‘contract administrator’, liaising between client and appointed parties including contractor.
  • During construction they will run the change management process (for example checking that variations on site are costed prior to commencing) and ensure that both client and contractor’s interests are fairly represented.
  • They can manage the site programme, ensuring things happen in the order required, managing the various sub-contractors, trades, and suppliers.
  • They can ensure that if one item is delayed or a supplier fails to deliver, the programme is adjusted to reduce the impact.
Next up…

We look at who you can hire as your project manager.

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