At least once a week I’ll receive a correspondence from a former colleague, contractor, Ivan Doroschuk (not really), consultant, random guy on the street, etc. asking me questions about managing a project. As a public service to the AEC profession, this is the inaugural post of a reoccurring series (at least the intent) of Project Management tips (PMt’s). The basics of project management can be distilled into two ‘tasks’- scheduling and open communication. Master these and you’ll be well on your way to successfully managing projects and becoming a competent project manager.
I was never ‘taught’ project management or became certified as a project manager- perhaps a later post as to why I don’t ‘buy-into’ that route of project management. My methods are based on trial-by-fire. These are based on my experiences and what works, or doesn’t work for me- feel free to implement them or discard them as you see fit. All the PMt’s in this series have been personally used by me at some point. My experience is based on nineteen (19) years of successfully managed projects ranging from single family reno/adds to high-rises to mixed-use to custom homes and various other types in between.
Who wouldn’t want a slight safety-net built into the schedule? Gather around some Men Without Hats as I give you PMt No. 1- S.A.F.E.T.Y DANCE:
This falls under scheduling and ranks up there as one of my favorite techniques, if not my favorite. With this technique you can typically gain yourself three more days in the schedule. The only set-up required is to schedule a deliverables deadline for a Friday afternoon. The Thursday afternoon the day before the deadline, phone the client:
Architect: “Hi Client… hey listen, I know we promised you the drawings tomorrow, but there are a few things we’d like to ‘tighten’ up. You’re not going to do anything with them until Monday anyway so… is it okay if we send them over then?”
Client: “That’s fine. Just send them over Monday, thanks for calling and have a great weekend!”
BOOM! (air high-fives and hand pistol gestures) Three more days. You now have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to wrap up the deliverables. Managing the project like a boss!
The beauty of this technique lies in the fact that the client is an active participant and will catch on quick- it becomes a delicate, unspoken dance between architect and client. However, it will only go this smoothly on the initial use. The second time you employ this the client will have caught on and will usually play-along; it becomes fun for them as well. However, they will now be playing the game as well. Around the 4th or 5th time you employ this technique, the conversation will go like this:
Architect: (has call on speaker and is trying not to laugh as the project team assembles around the phone) “Hi Client… hey listen, I know we promised you the drawings tomorrow, but there are a few things we’d like to ‘tighten’ up. You’re not going to do anything with them until Monday anyway so… is it okay if we send them over then?”
Client: (has call on speaker and is trying not to laugh as the project team assembles around the phone) “You know, we are planning on working with them this weekend. Let’s hold the deadline. Send them over tomorrow, thanks for calling and have a great weekend!”
At this point, something else may ‘tighten’ up other than the drawings. You better be ready to deal with it as this will be a true test of your project management skills!
You’ll be surprised how fun this little ‘game’ can be, go ahead give it a try. Stay tuned as future posts will offer more tried and tested PMt’s that you can implement on your projects… or ignore, your call.
** Seriously, I do this.