Congratulations! Your boss just assigned you to a critical project for your organization. It’s high profile. It’s complex. And all eyes are on you.

You start by setting up some internal meetings with your project team. Then come the architect and contractor meetings. Followed by the vendor meetings. (You hired half a dozen or so).

Before you know it, you’re spending most of your time sitting in conference rooms, responding to emails, scratching at consultants’ doors and scheduling meetings on top of more meetings to make sure everything is getting done.

Your project quickly becomes overwhelming and time consuming. Delays, added expenses, unforeseen issues, your boss is clawing up your back (are you stressed out yet?), it’s all happening right before your eyes. And let’s not forget you’re managing this project in addition to your day-to-day responsibilities.

Although it seemed like a good (read: cost-effective) idea at the time, you clearly have your hands full.

This is why you need a project manager

Managing a large project is a full-time job. When you try to be your own project manager (PM), you fall short in your existing job duties, your project management tasks or worse, you’re bad at both. A good PM will serve as your advisor and advocate—working in your best interest to integrate all elements of a building project, so you don’t have to.

When faced with a large-scale project, many corporate real estate (CRE) executives ponder whether the benefits of hiring a PM justify the expense. If you hire the right one, you’ll find the answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why:

Top 5 reasons to hire a project manager

  1. Realize broader ambitions and business goals: An experienced PM goes well beyond the ‘on-time, on-budget’ approach to look at the lifecycle of a project. From consulting and capital management through design and construction, a good PM digs deep to help you realize and achieve your business goals and aspirations even after the project is over.
  2. Save time and focus: A focused PM will assume complete ownership of the project—from start to finish—freeing you up to focus on your day-to-day responsibilities.
  3. Save money: A savvy PM has strong vendor relationships and direct industry experience that will ensure your money is well spent on optimal, consistent service.
  4. Manage risk: A mindful PM knows what obstacles to look out for and has a plan for resolving all kinds of problems should they threaten to derail your project.
  5. Prevent scope creep: An attentive PM controls the flow of a project and keeps team members focused on the original scope of work so that continuous changes don’t take you off course.

Besides peace of mind, a PM delivers tangible value that you likely won’t capture on your own. But a great PM delivers much more than just a project; they transform the spaces where people live, work and play. They deliver solutions and inspire success. Every new building, fit-out or design kicks off with long-term goals for the space. A great PM builds business outcomes to help your space achieve its goals.

How do you find the “right” project manager?

What are the traits of a good project manager and how do you know if you’ve found the right one for your project and your business? Ask every potential PM these eight questions to ensure they’re a good fit for you.

8 questions to ask when interviewing a project manager

  1. Is the PM able to see beyond the project? A great PM is able to see beyond the typical project goals, such as delivering the project on time and on budget, to achieving broader ambitions and aspirational goals for the client. You’ll want a PM who can partner closely with you and ask the hard questions up front to get a better understanding of what’s really possible and then deliver on that vision. A good PM is driven by your ambition.
  2. Has the PM completed similar projects before? Find out if the candidate has successfully managed projects comparable to yours in scope, building type and industry group. An experienced PM should be able to provide solid references from organizations they have served successfully and cite specific examples of their efforts.
  3. How many points of contact will you have? Projects can suffer potential slowdowns and information gaps when you’re dealing with a team of different PMs. Make sure there is one lead PM assigned for the duration of the project, as well as a dedicated backup contact in case they’re on vacation or otherwise unavailable. Consistency and trust are critical to achieving your project’s success.
  4. Can the PM instill collaboration across teams? A PM should be able to facilitate a collaborative process across a wide range of groups, from architects and contractors to other project contributors such as technology and furnishings planners, internal review boards, public interest groups, regulatory bodies and so forth. Again, asking for references or case studies can help you get a sense of someone’s success in this area.
  5. Is there flexibility in their solutions? A seasoned PM approaches each new project with zero plan in place. No matter how similar your project is to another, you’ll want a PM with knowledge and expertise to customize a plan for your specific needs. Their solutions should assimilate with your company’s culture and scale with changing requirements.
  6. How is the PM perceived in the industry? Does the PM’s favorable reputation extend beyond clients to architects, contractors and other vendors? While these professionals may not agree with all of the PM’s decisions, they should respect the PM’s regard for quality and fairness. A PM with a reputation for lowering costs by “squeezing” suppliers will be neither trusted nor respected. Character and integrity are vital to building the best partnerships.
  7. What’s the guaranteed ROI? A responsible PM will assume some of the risk in order to stay motivated and ensure the project’s success. Guaranteeing 100% or better ROI creates a strong incentive to meet and exceed expectations. On average, a PM can save you 4-6 times their fee equivalent in project-related cost savings. An experienced PM should cite examples of former client savings and demonstrate that your bottom line is their principal priority.
  8. Is the PM able to deliver under extraordinary circumstances? Sometimes challenging situations come up during a project that are out of the PM’s control. A power outage, major delays or even a hurricane may threaten the course of a project. Ask the PM how they’ve handled these types of situations. You want a competent PM who can deliver in the face of extreme challenges and extraordinary circumstances.

If you’re looking for real results, the question isn’t why hire a project manager?  but rather how can you afford not to?

With so much at stake, including your reputation, you can’t afford to make mistakes. Armed with these questions, you’ll find the right PM to lead your project beyond completion and ensure a valuable outcome long after they’re gone.

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About the author


About the author

Tim Kay, Managing Director, Project and Development Services
Providing executive leadership and oversight for the planning and execution of a wide range of projects on a local, regional and global basis.

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