By Richard Gibbs [email protected]
Richard Gibbs has over 30 years’ experience in project and client management. Together with his wife Nicky he created RIMINI Projects, offering a bespoke project management service for property owners in the UK and across the Algarve.
I am often asked what is most important (aside, of course, from knowledge and experience) when appointing a project manager.
So, you have your plans approved. You may even have a construction company in mind to do the works and now you are wondering how to juggle and monitor the impending works! It can seem so overwhelming, particularly new builds and larger renovations, that you should take on a project manager, no question! Well yes. But you should, as with choosing any professional, make a considered decision.
The project manager is employed to coordinate the construction works, protect your interests and control the expenditure of the budget, which after-all is your money. So, their independence is key. Before engaging him/her, you should satisfy yourself that they are truly independent and have no financial or other interests with anyone else involved in the project. If they do, then it should be declared.
Also, and this is very important, the relationship between the project manager and client should be based on mutual trust because new build projects in Portugal can, in many cases, last up to two years. Some personal relationships do not last that long and it is a lengthy time to work with someone you don’t like!
You should also bear in mind that to give input and approval you need to understand what is happening at each stage. Make sure your project manager explains everything to you so that you understand what will happen, and can be as involved as you wish. The project will undoubtedly run all the more smoothly for it!
The following tips, I hope, will provide some guidance on how you can help your project manager serve you and your project effectively:
1. Ask him/her to talk you through the programme of works and point out any critical points. Be very careful if you are not provided with a programme at this stage as he/she might not have thought it through. It does happen unfortunately, and I might add, very frequently! Check credentials if you are concerned.
2. Agree on the best way to keep communications clear and regular. Daily contact will probably exasperate both of you and weekly updates would be excessive for a project lasting two years but monthly reports would be worthwhile. Agree formats for reports, i.e. via email, hard copy or both. Consider video conferencing calls if there are decisions to be made on changes/material selections.
3. Agree what you want to be updated on – ask for a financial update, i.e. spend against budget, current forecast and hopefully where savings have been made! You should see which instructions have been given to the contractors and the impact these have had to the programme or cost. Monitor if progress is following the originally agreed programme, and if not, then your project manager needs to answer some questions! Insist on his/her executive overview.
4. Perhaps the most important aspect of all, your project manager should establish with you at the outset the value of the project, and when you must make payments to the contractor/s. This is vital; particularly if you are receiving financing as there will also be requirements from the lender for you to take into consideration. Missing key dates could not only affect your own cash flow but also have a major impact on the relationship with
Above all, don’t be shy; remember this is your project. Make sure your wishes are respected and followed from the outset. One last thing, if you want to see for yourself your project’s progress, ask for a webcam.