Construction Projects – The Importance of a Good Project Manager

December 3, 2013 - 4 minutes read

Businessman Wearing a Hard-Hat Looking at a Hazard SignAnyone who has been involved in building projects would know that they involve a three-way tension between quality, time, and cost, and that these elements need to be kept in balance all the way through the project as much as possible.

The need to cut costs or to finish the project quickly could compromise on quality, while the desire for top quality could result in time delays and cost blowouts – and so forth. This means that in any building project you really need to set clear goals regarding design and quality, time schedules, and budgets, so that you can create a realistic balance between all of these factors.

In order to manage this well it’s essential to have a good project manager. This applies even if you decide to make use of free or low-cost labour from within the congregation. An experienced and professional project manager’s task is to keep the build on track and within budget, and to anticipate the risks and provide solutions to problems. Without a professional leader the project could fall into serious disarray.

Project manager’s role

  • Plan the construction.
  • Appoint and manage the construction team.
  • Liaise with the council and other authorities regarding permits, plans, and other matters.
  • Consult with architects, quantity surveyors, engineers regarding the overall project.
  • Adhere to building codes of practice, regulation / legislation.
  • Organise the required equipment and materials.
  • Negotiate with suppliers and other parties.
  • Pay contractors and suppliers.
  • Draw up and enforce a sound safety plan.
  • Manage contract variations.
  • Arrange inspections with the building surveyor.
  • Ensure trades such as plumbing and wiring are carried out by professional contractors.
  • Monitor the project with regard to time, cost, and quality control.

Qualities to look for in a project manager

  • Qualifications – preferably possesses a degree in architecture, building or engineering.
  • Experience working as a construction site supervisor
  • Excellent problem-solving and risk-management skills.
  • Technical competence and knowledge of building codes and regulations.
  • Excellent communication skills – needs the ability to communicate well with people at all different levels.
  • Ability to negotiate skilfully on your behalf with the parties involved.
  • Management and leadership skills – in order to manage labour, time, materials, and variations.
  • Ability to work under pressure and to deadlines.
  • Good financial skills in order to keep the project within budgetary limits.
  • Conflict resolution skills – as may need to manage disputes between parties.
  • Trustworthiness – this one goes without saying!
  • Good temperament and maturity.
  • Commitment to your project.
  • The ability to learn from past mistakes.
  • Adequate insurance cover – including workers’ compensation insurance for construction employees.

In a church setting there is often a desire (and need) to save as much money as possible. However it’s essential that your project manager is experienced, qualified, competent, and professional or the project could end up costing you more in the long run!

When seeking a project manager, check his / her track record. Ask for evidence of experience on similar projects, and enquire how problems, challenges and risks were managed on past projects. Also ensure that you have a good rapport with your project manager – after all, you may be seeing a lot of him / her for some time!

Written by Tess Oliver