A. Successful project management involves a long list of skills. Here at WL Port-Land Systems, we believe that keeping things on schedule and within budget depends a lot on internal and external communication.
That means staying in touch with the customer so that we know exactly what their expectations are, and, two, we keep them advised on how the project is proceeding. It also means ensuring that everyone inside our company has the same information, is aware of changes in the project plan, and is working from the same data.
To ensure that our customers get what they expect, to avoid costly overruns and delays, to give clients the quality project management they’ve come to expect from WL Port-Land Systems, we believe in providing excellence in these areas:
Throughout the project, establish and maintain clear lines of communication with the customer, vendors, subcontractors, and internal department personnel. Electronic and paper documentation are primary for record-keeping. However, personal communication should not be overlooked in maintaining a better understanding of ongoing project activities, changes in scope, and schedule impacts that are critical throughout the project.
Thoroughly review the proposal documents to understand the commercial and technical requirements of the project before setting up the kick-off meetings with the customer and internal department heads/key project personnel. Establish project/customer priorities and guidelines related to project safety, quality control and quality assurance, schedule, project costs, environmental, cash flow, and other special project considerations. Prepare detailed meeting notes and distribute them accordingly for future reference and control.
Prepare and maintain an overall job progress schedule with timelines related to permitting, geotechnical, surveys, design and detail engineering, procurement, manufacture, inspections, construction, commissioning, and start-up. In addition, prepare and maintain a requisition schedule for all vendor and subcontract POs to meet the job progress schedule adequately. Ensure that project schedules are adhered to complete the project on time and mitigate possible delays.
Establish and maintain the design criteria for controlling the project’s detailed engineering. Prepare and execute a QA/QC program specific to the project’s requirements. Prepare and implement a site-specific safety program by applicable OSHA requirements, customer safety requirements, governmental and industry codes, and other contractual obligations.
All projects encounter problems. Since all problems are solvable, the earlier the issue is addressed — internally and with the customer — the less overall impact it will generally have on the project’s success.
A successful project manager develops and accepts a "whatever it takes" attitude. There is no job related to the project that should be considered too minor, incidental, or demeaning.
It is essential, particularly at the front end of a project, that key project activities are discussed internally with management and, depending on the nature of the project, with the customer periodically. These meetings are intended to document a list of the activities that impact the project’s success and are not removed until the activity is completed and resolved promptly.
All personnel assigned to the project need to feel that they are a necessary part of a team and that the success of others also ensures their success. All jobs are equally important and worth doing correctly to maintain a high-quality standard throughout the project — from the receptionist to the field superintendent. Time spent in day-to-day communication, tips, reminders, and training is worthwhile.
Work with the purchasing department during bid evaluation to assure that budgeted amounts are considered before order placement. Prepare and maintain cost forecast against budget for each line item throughout the project to inform management of projected overall cost performance.
Maintain regular communication with site personnel of construction activities to assure contractual obligations are satisfied and offer any assistance. Promptly resolve any site problems such as lack of information, the lateness of deliveries, and technical problems. These types of problems generally magnify the cost and schedule impact to the project because of the number of personnel and construction equipment involved — schedule periodic site visits to monitor overall site performance related to safety, quality, and schedule.
Work with engineering/drafting, purchasing/expediting, and site personnel to ensure that customer/contractual requirements are met. Regular activities include a review of specifications developed by engineering, review drawings for accuracy, review of bidder’s list, submission of inquiries to purchasing, evaluation of bids, review of vendor approval drawings, preparation of site construction specifications, cooperation and communication with safety and QA/QC personnel, co-ordination of permit applications, approval and processing of vendor and subcontractor invoices, and monitoring and updating job costing.
Written by Bruce Mandella