Why you need a project manager

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Before you start to build your own house, one of the major considerations is to ask yourself if you will have the time required to supervise the project, no matter how small. Otherwise, you need the service of a project manager to ensure that the scope of work is carried out within the timeline and cost

By Ranti Adedeji 

Project Management is a relatively new profession in Nigeria but project management activities and roles were dated back to the construction of pyramids in Egypt. Until very recently, project management was offered as a course in construction-related faculties of tertiary institutions, but not as a discipline itself.

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Project Managers are fundamentally concerned about scope, time and cost in any project even though other management roles like quality, human resource, communications, procurement and risk, are often included in their responsibilities on very large construction sites. A project manager’s main task is the coordination of all these resources in order to achieve the project objectives, which is to get a project completed within a set timeframe and budget. Their role is basically administrative and work in collaboration with other technical professionals.

As a result of inter-related responsibilities, architects, engineers, builders and quantity surveyors often double as project managers depending on the size of the project and available funds. However, in recent times, project managers are in high demand especially in Constructions, Oil and Gas and Information Technology sectors of the economy. Besides, individual who are too busy to monitor personal property development are engaging project managers to act as interface with contractors, suppliers and other professionals or artisans involved in the project. They are to ensure that professionals on site are doing what they are supposed to do and doing it at the right time. Much more importantly, they are to be certain that the required standard is not compromised; the more reason most project managers have construction-related background.

When you engage the services of a project manager, he is faced with three main constraints, which are: the time constraint, which refers to the amount of time available to complete your project; the cost constraint, which refers to the budgeted amount available for the project; and the scope constraint, which refers to what must be done to complete the project. These three constraints are often competing constraints as increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost while a tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope. Similarly a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.

At what point of your project development would you need a project manager? The moment you discover that you are not having enough time to personally supervise your contractors or attend site meetings to discuss progress of work. When you could no longer understand most of the technical languages by your construction team or some data analysis are becoming too complicated for you to comprehend; it is time to engage a project manager.

As simple as they are, terms like working drawings, work schedule, bills of quantities, scope of work and their interpretations may be difficult for first-time building owners and others that belong to different professions. So, you need a project manager to act as your representative; your voice. He communicates your decision to the people on site and vice versa. He makes all required decisions regarding the project on your behalf. He resolves conflicts, where there is any.

In addition to these responsibilities, your project manager will monitor the progress of your project in accordance with the work schedule drawn by your architect or contractor. He sees ahead of your contractor and foresees where possible difficulty lies in the project and discusses this with you and the contractor. He also keeps a regular site reports and make them available to you daily, weekly, monthly or as may be agreed with you.

There are mainly two types of reports your project manager would be required to give you. The first one is the daily site report indicating what activity was carried out on the site every day. He may have to add pictures from site activities of the day and give details of materials used and the number of workers on site. This will make it easy for you to know how much you have paid workers and the quantity of materials you have used on the project. The second report is the minutes of weekly or monthly site meetings. He gives you a graphical presentation of what are discussed at the meeting and decisions arrived at.

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From personal experience, one of the most tedious but interesting jobs of a project manager is the evaluation of contractor’s payment requests and preparation of payment documents. At every point, your contractor will always demand for money. He will often come up with demand for even jobs that he has not done and promising to complete your work if you can give him more money. Here, you need your project manager to evaluate the work he has done on site and advise you either to yield to the contractor’s demand or not.

This is also the aspect of a project manager’s job that frequently brings him at loggerheads with contractors.  The idea is to be certain that agreement made about payment plans at every stage is not flouted by either party. Your project manager will insist that the contractor does not get paid more than the work he has done and at the same time ensure that you do not delay payment for every work done by your contractor. It is a win-win approach.

So, how much would you pay your project manager? Bear it in mind that you have other building professionals on site and your ultimate goal is to save cost without compromising standards. What you pay is subject to negotiations between the two of you, but, depending on the size, duration of the project, and level of involvement of the project manager, you may settle for about two or three percent of the contract sum.

 

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