Issue #44: Project Management – Train for Excellence

For many of my readers in the South, this week has brought a change in the weather; Fall has finally made its entry, and with it, has pushed out the heavy, humid, hot air. This time of year brings me to start taking stock of the current year and gets me thinking of the year ahead. For those of you that own or manage your business it’s a good time to go through an inventory of what went right/wrong, and plan for the future. Your checklist may look something like this:

  • How have we performed against our marketing goals (sales, profitability, number of new customers)?
  • Where do we appear to be in the business cycle for our industry and geographic location? What changes should we consider?
  • What were our biggest wins/losses? Why?
  • How have our personnel performed?
  • What can we do to improve our performance next year?

If you don’t have a formal review or planning process, the above list of general questions might be a good place from which you could start. As an owner/manager you have the responsibility to plan, review, and measure the performance of your business, or your specific department. Most experienced managers are good at setting tangible goals or objectives. However, often they fail to see that the shortcomings in results are due to poor performance on the part of their employees. A common problem in my experience dealing with many companies is the lack of investment in training/education programs.

Training for project management personnel needs to be a comprehensive program. To be truly effective, project personnel must have a good grasp of many diverse skills. They should be proficient at least in some aspects of:

  1. Specific field of work (technical knowledge)
  2. Estimating or budgeting
  3. Accounting systems (job cost, payroll and billing systems)
  4. Safety practices and regulations
  5. Hiring/discharging employees and jobsite work rules
  6. Contracts and administration
  7. Scheduling and resource planning
  8. Written correspondence and oral communications
  9. Motivation/supervision of personnel
  10. Time management

A cursory review of this list serves to remind us of the breadth of skills that a qualified project manager must possess. In addition to the need to develop the skills of your project managers, there is the challenge faced by companies to have all their management staff working along the same lines. It isn’t good enough to have qualified PMs, you need to have them all following a standard set of procedures and policies to ensure that your company is executing in a consistent manner on all of its projects. This begs the question:

“What are you doing to maintain, or improve the skills of your project management team?”

Many of my clients do a fairly good job providing safety, equipment, product, or other job specific training for their employees. However, very few take the next step to provide a comprehensive managerial training program to ensure that their project managers get the rest of the skills that are needed to perform successfully in their jobs. Even fewer companies actually have workable guidelines, or procedures for managing their company’s projects.

The task of developing procedures and creating the necessary management training program can be overwhelming, when added to the long list of demands that are placed on your time as it is. This is where an outside consultant can be of benefit to you, someone you can “rent” to bring their expertise and skills to work with your organization to tailor the right plan for you.

I’ve had the privilege of working with several companies to assist them to create procedures, forms, and educational programs for their project management staff. In some cases, they have established an in-house continuing education program where their staff (foremen, superintendents, estimators, project managers, and executives) come together periodically to refresh concepts, or learn new skills to help them build excellence in their businesses. By outsourcing their training program, they’re able to focus on their day-to-day management tasks.

If you are interested in taking this approach, please call me to discuss how we can work together to improve the quality of your management team!

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

– Maya Angelou

Would you like to learn more about ways to reduce your risk in construction projects? Order my book Document to Reduce Risk. It explains how to apply the “rules” from the contract to the job of project management. You’ll also find numerous, practical examples to help you prepare sound construction documentation to address typical project conditions. Obtain a print or e-book copy through my website.



With Halloween around the corner, I couldn’t resist sharing this picture of my Ninja and M&M (cheerleader?) grandchildren from last year. Yes, they are quite creative! — With my best regards to all, until the next issue, Paco.


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