Part 2 – Ron Pestone
In part one I spoke about some of the traits all Project Managers must possess if they are to be successful. What follows are what I consider to be the necessary traits a Project Manager must possess if he is to be a good Project Manager for a Subcontractor.
First, he better know his contract documents like the back of his hand. If he doesn’t know In part one I spoke of some of the traits all Project Managers must possess if they are to be his plans and specifications how will he know if an owner’s request is a change order or part of the contract? You know owners do ask for things that they are not entitled to. If the Project Manager does not know his contract how will he know when he is within his rights? Does he have to do the change order work without the change order amount being settled? Does he know when his retention should be reduced? Does he know his company’s scope of work? Remember this is subcontracting and in subcontracting the big gamble is in the labor. Any mistake or oversight by the Project Manager is going to result in more labor. No subcontractor has the luxury of performing extra labor without being compensated for it.
I have sat with more than one Project Manager who was unable to answer basic questions about his project. And when he was giving me his song and dance all I could think about was how fast I could get rid of him. Not knowing his documents and his scope of work is one area of his work where there is no excuse. Any Project Manager who cannot pass this test needs to be shown the door.
In commercial work it is essential that the Project Manager knows the fundamentals of CPM scheduling. He needs to know what his base line schedule says from day one. Either he must have the ability to read and understand the CPM schedule himself or the intelligence to hire a CPM pro to develop a bell curve broken down by weeks and months for his labor. He needs to understand the CPM monthly updates and their consequences. Here a good CPM pro is worth their weight in gold. Commercial construction is too big and complicated with owners quick to pull the liquidated damages card for a Project Manager not to have an understanding of basic CPM scheduling. And I will let you in on a big secret, they are a lot simpler to understand than you might think. It is of critical importance that the Project Manger not file away monthly CPM updates. Instead he must respond to them. Better yet have his CPM specialist analyze each update and issue a report on each one. If the Project Manager then notifies the owner of any change in duration he is not only doing his job he is protecting his company and at the same time notifying the owner he knows what he is doing.
My background is mechanical and electrical and while it is not 100% true I have found that some of the very best Project Managers I have worked with started their careers as tradesmen and worked their way up the ladder. They knew what was going to be needed next without anyone telling them. They knew the field and respected the guys putting the work in. Nobody had to tell them what it was like laying conduit on a steel deck when it was 98 degrees out and humid as hell. Or what is was like putting in 8 inch schedule 80 black pipe twenty feet off the ground. And while I have found that not all tradesmen make good Project Managers I have found that owner’s sons who went to work for another contractor after their father closed his doors usually made lousy Project Managers. Way to spoiled, most without much spark who were just trying to glide by. Everyone has a different opinion about this but for me I will always take a chance on a Project Manager who started his career in the field.
A Project Manager for a subcontractor needs to understand that the biggest gamble on any of his projects lies in the labor. With that being said he needs to understand his Foreman is the key to making or breaking the labor hours in the field. The Project Manager needs to make sure the Foreman has everything on the job site he needs, when he needs it. That all his questions are answered and that he has the backing of the Project Manager 100% of the time.
This means the Project Manager needs to make sure everything for the project has been submitted, approved, purchased and released in a timely fashion. It means the Project Manager has submitted every legitimate change order and fought like hell for the best settlement. Nothing in life brings up my blood pressure more than walking on a job and seeing the guys mope around because they’ve run out of material.
Don’t Forget – We Build America