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

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