19 September 2017

What is Project Management?

Project management is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives.

What experience have I had so far?

So far I've had a couple of experiences within project management.

The first being on Constructionarium 2017, I was selected as project manager for my team and we had to build a scaled model of a building. Throughout the week, as project manager I was dealing with each set of trades which were needed to create the finished product. Joiners, Concreters, Steel Fixers, health and safety, QS, QA, etc. through the week I was making sure that all trades were following the drawings correctly and not deviating from the drawings.

The second experience I've had as a project manager was on a construction site in Darlington with Tolent. Working alongside the project manager and assistant manager carrying out daily tasks which involved a lot of the same jobs which I had been carrying out at Constructionarium. However there were a few other jobs and tasks such as client meetings, sub-contractor pre starts, visitor talks and walks. The main difference being the size and complexity of the site. 

The main appeal for the job for me personally is being able to see and work on so many different projects throughout a lifetime. One project may be a housing site, but the next project may be a high-rise building. Every project is different and produces interesting features. Me personally I prefer to dictate than to be dictated too. So having the authority to make decisions is where I personally feel that I excel.

What does a good, well run managed project look like?

A well run project will run smoothly around 70% of the time, all sub-contractors work hand in hand and the time scales are all stuck too. However even if a job is well managed, problems can still occur. On my last placement at Tolent, we had houses and bungalows that were thirteen weeks ahead on the time, however we also had an apartment block that had not even started due to unforeseen circumstances.

We had live BT cables within the ground and we were instructed three times that we had the go ahead to start excavating and building. However when we asked for the cables to be struck by the owners of the cables, it turns out that the cables were in fact, still live. A well run project is not essentially a project that will run smoothly, it is a project in which all paperwork is correct, project plans are in place to support all parts of the construction project, if unforeseen circumstances came to light and potentially could cause the project to come to a standstill.

If you're interested and want to follow a career in project management, what are the educational and qualification requirements?

You can enter this job by one of three routes.

Most people take level 2 and/or level 3 courses in construction and the built environment. For example, you could achieve a level 2 qualification and work your way up through the management roles. 

You could also take level 3 qualifications and get work experience to work your way up, or go onto university and get a degree.

At A levels/Level 3, a combination of science or technical subjects would be useful as they would add to your practical knowledge. You could also combine A levels with a vocational qualification such as a BTEC/diploma in construction.

The third route into project management is by getting a job very low down in the chain. Over years of experience you will be promoted through different job roles and work your way up to project manager. Being a project manager this way will mean that you know the extents of every job role as you have experienced it.

Once you are a project manager, what responsibilities do you have?

The project manager must plan all of the build process and must understand the timing of each specific task. Project managers must be constantly aware of supplies for all employees to use to build the project, and when supplies start to diminish, the project manager must order more.

The project manager is also responsible for recruiting a good team and allocating tasks to the relevant staff. The project manager is also responsible for setting goals and benchmarks for the employees to hit. If the employees do not hit these goals they could be susceptible to punishment. The project manager is also responsible for financial planning and monitoring of the project.

A project manager must have relatively quick learning skills, this is due to the fact that BIM is a vast and quick changing technique used within the construction industry. Constant software updates and changes, along with new software being used, they must be able to adapt quickly to the changes within the industry. 

Project managers must have good people skills, this is because they are the ones that have to sit and interview potential sub-contractors, alongside the QS. The project manager must be able to sit and comfortably talk to visitors, clients, Residents etc. The project manager needs this as they are the individual that tells the construction team how to build the project, alongside the drawings.

The basic management principle can be applied so that managers can move from one industry to another. Initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing can all be applied to any project whether that be within construction or product design. As long as a project manager has these attributes and knows how to correctly manage a project, they can change from industry to industry.