Scott Byberg, CEO of Dominion Caulking and Langstaff Restorations, reviews why “Project Managing” is so crucial to a company’s success!
After more than 40 years in the construction industry, one particular factor stands out as the key to the success or downfall of any project or firm. It’s not poor estimating, lazy workers, bad credit, poor sub trades or even late payments. All of these can affect a project but the number one issue for success or failure is Project Managing.
A great number of people call this Project Management, but Project Management is the process in which a single firm or person takes a single project from the idea stage through to completion. However, Project Managing is the firm’s or person’s attitude and actions during any part of all projects.
Project managing can make or break a single project or the entire firm.
The importance of Project Managing has been known for a long time, but it has only been in the last 100 years or so, where the mainstream companies have started to understand its real importance.
The increase in communication abilities over the past 50 years has allowed people and firms to discuss and vet ideas with others, in order to learn how those ideas may be beneficial for them or their firm. Project Managing has been an area that has greatly benefited from this.
From the 1980s on, the methods to operate, manage and communicate ideas have become faster and faster. Yet, one can get lost in Project Managing, and begin to Micro Manage. As the old adage states, “you can’t see the forest for the trees.”
In the building restoration industry, Project Managing is a part of every day life. Project Managing is not only on the site, but also back at the office. From the ordering of material and the coordination of labour, and the management of time, so tenders and the paperwork- the endless paperwork – is completed.
Project Managing is not just a given, it must be a commitment in order to be successful.
Project Managing starts with the attitude of the company from the top management to the young labourer who started a week ago. Everyone has a role to play in Project Managing. It allows each person to play their role to the maximum to attain a common goal. Along the way, things arise that may require guidance, but the focus is always on the end game. There have been many times when we have priced projects and the “brain thrust” of the company had a way to proceed with work, only to have a person on site come up with an idea from out of the blue to make the project that much better. “Out of the mouth of babes.”
Rarely does a project go exactly as planned. Some go smoother than others but you would never be able to tell from the contractor if their managing of the project is flawless. When you are dealt lemons… make lemonade or at least work it out and make the best lemonade you can, even if it still tastes sour.
The ability of the contractor to manage your project can save you a lot of time and discussions between your Property Manager, residents and board of directors. Yet at the same time, as a contractor, we rely on the managers, to make sure the residents know what to expect as the project starts and progresses. Additionally, it is necessary to inform the contractor of any issues on site or that could arise that might delay or impede the contractor’s ability to manage the project. For example, garbage pickup, it’s difficult to move scaffolding out of the way when you are on the swingstage 30 stories in the air. Again, the more information provided, the easier and better the project can be managed and that is just going to help you and your building.
Good project managing benefits all involved. A contractor, who is good at project managing, ensures that they have the interest of the project as their number one priority. Some may have agendas that are selfish and push for resolutions that benefit them the most, or they may simply be wrong and trying to save face, at someone else’s expense. If the successful completion of the project is truly the intent, then who’s right and who’s wrong shouldn’t matter as long as the end result is beneficial to the project as a whole. A combined effort is generated out of respect, appreciation and discussion. Poor Project Managing can cause all efforts to fail, yet good project managing creates an atmosphere where all stakeholders feel they can contribute and be a part of the successful outcome.
It is a misnomer to say that if a price is really low, the contractor must have made a mistake, although in some circumstances this may be true. There have been times where the Project Managing of a job prior to the tender closing, has assisted the contractor in devising an approach to the job which is better than his competitors. The ability of the Property Manager, Owner or Consultant to understand that idea before the awarding of the project, can save them thousands of dollars, while at the same time, reduce the inconvenience of the residents.
In the past you have probably dealt with a contractor that was quite a bit low on a project, yet somehow, they never seemed to be out of control. At the completion of the project, if you asked them how they “did it” they would probably tell you that they had their share of issues, but they worked through them and the project went great.
On the other hand, you’ve probably also dealt with a contractor that seemed to have a good price and then the project seemed to stall, the site was messy, the workers didn’t seem to care and the job went way over schedule. If you questioned the contractor on that project, they probably would give you every excuse in the book as to why it went bad…but it was never their fault.
Project Managing can give you an insight into how the company operates. You can rest assured, that if a contractor at your building seems out of control, they are probably the same back in the office while the Contractors that are calm, open and up to date with the issues on your site, are probably also that way in their office.
While almost every company can talk about their achievements, it’s how they deal with their disappointments that show their true abilities. We have had great and successful projects in the past, but I can tell you, that the ones that we had the most “challenges” on, were the ones we learned the most about our company.
The Project Managing abilities of a contractor plays a far greater role than most give credit. The next time you are interviewing a contractor for a job… ask them their philosophy on managing the project, you may change your mind either way by the answer.