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Tips For New Project Managers

Tips For New Project Managers

Tips For New Project Managers

Hi Everyone,

I am a new memeber here to Eng Tips and have been enjoying the discussion thoroughly thus far.

I have recently moved from a utility into a much smaller private enterprise in Australia. We are working on turnkey underground cabling projects.

Being a smaller enterprise, the formal procedure and quality systems I was forced to work with in the public sector are not there and also the resources of my executive team and direct manager are somewhat more time constrained.

Im finding that a lot of small issues are coming up due to my inexperience as a PM.

Example: The civil subcontractor program seems to be largely driven by subcontractor requirements and therefore we are starting to clash with the clients needs.

Design changes early from client request that required reworking a days work.

I think I need to get a more organised way of dealing with issues or question so that I know exactly how to predict the consequences of any little delays, scope/design changes etc.

Basically, I would like to know if there are any methods for getting better at this job that I feel slightly under qualified with other than learning by error.

Sorry for the vague question but thanks for any responses.


RE: Tips For New Project Managers

Don't start any actual work until you have:
 - a definitive Client approved "Scope" (description) of the project.
 - a definitive Client approved "Estimate" (+/- 10%)
 - a definitive Client approved "Schedule" for the project
 - a documented, manageable & Client approved  "Trend" and "Change Order" procedure  

RE: Tips For New Project Managers

A "statement of requirements" from the client written into the contract could help you make sure your sub contractor meets dates

If your client has requested a design change (against the previously agreed scope that pennpiper mentioned) then you can agreee it but only if you assess the impact / cost etc properly and advise the client that yes they can have the change but their costs will increase by x and the schedule will go to the right by y days etc. The point is changes in scope have to be agreed by both parties since they are in effect a change to the contract.

Regards, HM

No more things should be presumed to exist than are absolutely necessary - William of Occam

RE: Tips For New Project Managers

Thanks for the responses,

Yeah I think PM 101 might be a good idea. :)  
It seems to be skill learnt mostly by experience though.

Does anyone else have trouble working a contract that has been tendered by the executive level then passed to operations? It seems a lot of the set up of the contract is quite important but Im not really in a position to have control over how the contract and the spec is set out.


RE: Tips For New Project Managers

Yes, I've project managed tasks that were bid by other people (managment).

PITA and never worked out that well, fortunately, my largest project where that was an issue got cancelled before the proverbial hit the fan.  Though I hear it's been resurected.


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RE: Tips For New Project Managers

WhiteyWhitey - there are a lot of PM books out there and all of them can be helpful.  I would suggest that you grab one and read it thoroughly.  You'll find much of it is common sense but when actually applied can make a project  a breeze and complicated projects manageable.

As noted in other replies, knowing the scope, budget and deliverables is very important.  But you must also understand the client's expectations and schedule.  Hold budget, quality paramount and know that you've got resources to use or not use.  Those three form the trianlge which to base decisions on.  For instance if you emphasize quality you will see that involves resources and budget.  If budget tightens, then it impacts quality and resources.  This triangle will help you keep the project in balance.  Use the schedule as a road map to completion, how to get from start to finish and when to load resources or unload them to maintain budget.  Use the client expectations to keep a focus on the project.  Some clients may allow schedule slip for cost savings and vice versa.  Some may not allow any slip on anything.

Good luck.

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RE: Tips For New Project Managers


I would recommend the "Project management the managerial process by Gary Larson". It was the required text for the two project management courses I recently took. I highly recommend an introductory project management course. It gives an excellent overview of the key requirements of a project manager.
I agree with Qshake that client's expectations are critical. You need to know them and also need to keep them informed of any changes to schedule, budget and scope.
The project manager executing the project needs to know the contract and specifications. When the contractor starts doing something that doesn't meet the specifications you need to know and call them on it.

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