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November 2007

Full Contact Project Management

Masonry MagazineFlip This Project Manager

So the plan was to watch some NASCAR, and forget about all that construction stuff for a while (and ignore all those construction-type sponsors that NASCAR seems to attract). I wanted to relax a bit on a Saturday night after a long week, a week probably like the week you had. Know what I mean?

project managementWell, somehow the channel changed to one of those so-called reality TV shows. No NASCAR; just one of those programs about buying, rehabing and then "flipping" (selling) a house. Of course, this program really made me think about project management. So, of course, I watched it. I couldn't seem to help myself, kind of like staring at an accident on the freeway. Anyway, I did pick up a couple of lessons that need to be discussed.

Lesson 1
The first lesson has to do with your authority, versus your responsibility, as a PM. The guy on the TV program, who was labeled as project manager, actually was not. He was more of a project babysitter, because he could not make any decisions without first checking with his boss. Every time he would meet with his boss to tell him of the difficulties he was having because of changes to the work, and the change orders his contractor wanted, his boss would get really upset. Talk about wanting to kill the messenger!

The boss, seemingly caught up in his newly found TV stardom, had a huge ego. He wanted his PM and his contractor to work these things out, and leave him alone. He held his PM responsible for the completion of the project on time and on budget. Of course, his PM did not have the practical authority to make this happen. Plus, he was afraid of his boss and his contractor.

Here's the lesson: Don't allow yourself to be put into this position. Do not accept responsibility without the authority to pull it off. If you can't get both, even though your position requires it, guess what? It's time to shine up the 'ole resume and get it out to other companies.

And, if you happen to be the owner of such a company and don't believe in giving your managers the authority they need to do their work, then we'll just have to address that in another column.

Lesson 2
Here's the second lesson, and it has to do with the contractor. Funny, but he actually made more mistakes than the PM. He started work without a signed contract to show good faith, and wanted an increase of about 15 percent over what the project owner had budgeted. However, he never got that into writing. Worse, he let himself become intimidated by circumstances: unforeseen changes due to the character of the work, resulting in additional costs and extra time.


Coach Gary says:

Find good people, and let them do their jobs, so you can do your job.

Did he send out any RFIs, lay out his case, explain how this was the responsibility of others, and ask how the owner wanted to handle it? Of course not, because he was also afraid of the owner. If he had written an RFI, then maybe you and I wouldn't be having this "talk" right now.

In this case, all the contractor did was whine and complain, and then threaten to walk off the job. Not cool, possibly illegal, and just plain stupid, as all of you regular readers and Team members know.

There are better ways to tackle problems like these, and education plays a big part. Reading trade magazines like Masonry will keep you plugged into the latest advances in your field, as well as keeping your projects well managed. Hey, here's an idea: Maybe we should all send emails to every one of these TV PMs and contractors, and tell them to go to the FullContactBlog Web site, where they can read free articles. And, they can check the archives of the online version of Masonry, where almost 30 columns are housed for Full Contact Project Management.


Coach Gary says:

A smart contractor is an educated contractor.

Just so that you know, NASCAR did finally come back on the channel, with the top two finishers of the race being cars sponsored by home improvement stores. During the race, something else crazy happened. One of the commercials actually showed a guy — another TV PM with a bullhorn — shouting to a bunch of construction workers, "Hurry up people! We only have seven days to completely demolish and rebuild this house!"

It boggles the mind, but will a column about the makeover follow this one about the flipper? Just a few years ago, hardly anyone knew what a construction project manager was. Now, everyone wants to be one. Reality? Yikes!

Coach Gary's Corner:

Ready to protect your own profits, rather than just donate them to the job like you've always been doing? Need to find out what an RFI is? What is the best way to handle RFIs? Could you use some coaching? Go to the new Web site at www.FullContactBlog.com and participate there with Coach. Subscribe and get free audio updates and other info that will help your projects. See what's new in the world of project management. Click on over to the archives, and use the helps available to you there. Also, you can get Coach Gary's book "Get Paid for a Change!"







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