Lessons Learned #3: How to be a Good Project Manager: be a “PPRICK”

No, I did not misspell the title to this issue! PPRICK is an acronym I created to represent the essential principles or qualities that I believe are necessary to be a good project manager. I hope it caught your attention.

Over the years, I have observed with interest the performance of many different people who have managed construction. Without making a conscious effort, I realize that I have been cataloging those qualities and principles, which, when followed, resulted in successful project outcomes.

Without a doubt, the first principle is that of Performance. There is no substitute for performance – without it you invite problems. I define performance as: building

your contract scope, at the lowest cost, within the allowed contract time. As a project manager, if you are performance oriented, the problems that may visit you during construction will not be of your own making.

Next in importance I found is being Proactive. It is essential to be able to look ahead at what is likely to develop from the conditions we see today. This quality allows us to predict and avoid problems before they can derail our performance. By being proactive, we are also able to make better decisions – weighing the potential consequences of our current choices before taking action. We are able to avoid spur of the moment or emotional decisions that we might regret later.

Being Responsive is another must-have quality. Many routine issues turn into major liabilities because they were ignored. How many times have you received notice of a problem and thought “this is nothing big, I’ll respond to it later”? Then, weeks or months after being lost in hundreds of other urgent details, the problem rears its ugly head – now as a major issue on the job requiring immediate attention at the expense of everything else!

When it comes to writing, it is essential to be Informing and Clear. Many project personnel seem to believe that “more is better” when they document an issue or problem. They tend to confuse and obscure the issue when they write, by implying, including unrelated histories and opinions, rather than getting to the point, focusing on the facts and the impact of an issue on performance (scope, cost, or time).

The last of the qualities is Knowledge of the contract. In my opinion, the contract contains the “rules” for project management. I am always amazed at how the terms and conditions of the contract are ignored until an issue becomes critical. All documentation and decisions need to be based on the contract “rules”.

So now you know what it means to be a PPRICK!

Want to learn more about the principles for project documentation and avoiding claims? Order my book “Construction Management: Document to Reduce Risk”, or schedule an in-house seminar for your company.

“What is common sense is not common practice.” – Stephen Covey

© Farach Consultants, Inc.  •  all rights reserved  •  954.434.7710

Lessons Learned #2: When Traveling in the Fast Lane, Look Far Ahead

I am passionate about downhill skiing. I like to ski fast! There is one thing you learn to do when you want to ski fast; you must look far ahead to see where you are going. The faster you go, the farther ahead you must look. In addition, you must be mentally prepared for what may lie ahead; what will you do when you reach that next turn? How will you react if the terrain changes? How much distance will it take you to stop suddenly? You get the point; you must anticipate and prepare for what lies ahead – it’s essential if you want to survive.

I believe the same thing can be said about managing commercial construction projects. My experience confirms that those companies which seem to survive through the toughest projects have a management team that is proactive – they know how to be forward looking.

This may seem obvious to you at first thought. You may even be thinking that this is how you man- age your projects too. However, let’s dig a bit deeper, shall we?

What exactly is “proactive management” when it comes to construction projects? I think that most project managers may be able to identify the keys to proactive management in principle, however, the difficulty comes in putting those principles into practice in the field.

Let’s look at one example: the management of the project schedule. On nearly all projects of any size, there will be an overall project schedule. That schedule information is then used to develop short-term “look-ahead schedules” for use at periodic meetings with the trades. These short-term schedules, if prepared accurately, can serve a valuable purpose. Contractors practice proactive management when they involve the subcontractors in planning their future work.

However, all too often these management actions stop at the end of the meeting. They fail to follow through into the field. Contractors and subcontractors must continue to communicate in detail about the resources that are required to execute the short-term plan successfully.

As expected, the results are painfully revealed in the following project meeting. Those who were “truly” proactive got their work accomplished, those who paid “lip service” saw their activities slide into the future. They are the cause of the delays experienced by everyone on the project.

Be proactive in managing your projects, look ahead and follow through with the details in the field so that your planned activities are successfully executed without delay. The lesson learned; you have to look far ahead when traveling in the fast lane of construction!


I drove through a major snow storm to Le Massif (Quebec province) to enjoy some of the best conditions I have ever seen in the Northeast!  LL_3_ski pictureSkiing at Le Massif gives one the illusion that you will wind up in the frozen St. Laurence River below – quite surreal. It’s worth the trip to go there in the middle of the winter; charming, with French music at the base lodge, but be sure to pack your warmest gear!

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” – David Campbell

© Farach Consultants, Inc.  •  all rights reserved  •  954.434.7710