RG Construction

THE ROLE OF THE PROJECT MANAGER

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by Robyn Bardgett 

A project manager (PM) can help see a project to a successful end. RG Construction spoke with Will Irvine, project manager and Construction Association of Bermuda board member, about what you need to know before hiring a project manager. 

Why is a project manager an important role? 

Each project needs someone who is responsible for looking after all key aspects of the job and keeping track of the project in terms of specification, time, cost and leading the team from start to finish. While construction is a very visual and tangible thing, and people can easily relate to a project, the role of the project manager is instrumental to the success of any project: this can be a professional project manager, but it could also be a person within the team who has the skills. 

What makes a good project manager? 

Project managers are in demand for all job sectors – not just construction. The skills set can be used across a variety of disciplines and in many sectors of business. However, in construction, it really is a combination of technical skill and the ability to communicate and manage. Some days a PM will be involved with the legal side and negotiations on behalf of the client, on another day they could be involved in a detailed design review with the architects. They are also out in the field talking with the operatives and construction workers or government representatives. The PM has to be able to communicate with everyone. 

What are some of the questions that someone should ask before hiring a project manager? 

Because we are based in Bermuda and there are specific construction methods, the biggest question should be: what experience do you have building in Bermuda and/or ask for references? However, I think the most important thing is for the client to organize their Client Brief. This can help the project manager and the project team understand their overall and specific goals. Often we see owners/clients jumping into a project because they’ve settled on a couple of key decisions, for example, the flooring or a simplified layout. But there are connected issues that need to be addressed long before the project gets under way. The Client Brief is an important early step that needs to be made clear and put down in writing. 

What are some of the key reasons to hire a project manager to ensure a successful project? 

The biggest mistake clients make is thinking they can do it all themselves and ‘go cheap’ by removing part of the scope or a key team member. It is extremely important to give the project due consideration from concept to completion. Any project can be done on a budget, but that doesn’t mean you should remove a part for the sake of saving money. A good PM will often save the client from making costly mistakes and can enable a team from the beginning – and it doesn’t have to mean big fees. Instead the PM can guide the client and their team to a successful result. 

What qualifications are good to look for: 

The most notable come from globally recognised institutions such as the Association of Project Managers (APM) (https://www. apm.org.uk/) and Prince2 (https:// www.prince2.com/uk). The Bermuda College offers parts of the APM course through a distance learning programme. 

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