How to get the best value out of your Project Manager

Published 31 August 2020

The best value you can get from a Project Manager (PM) is by bringing them into the project early. Why you may ask? Well it’s not so they can charge more fees, it’s just that a PM’s ability to be most effective is at the beginning of a project when it’s being set up and the design approach set out, when key decisions need to be made about the broad direction and multiple options remain on the table. The best way to explain this is with the graph below.

funds commited graph

At the concept phase of a project decisions are often being made quickly. These decisions are committing the project to a general direction even though the funds have not been spent. But in this phase of design, changes in direction are common and made relatively easily with low cost. This is the area in which PM’s can affect the most change and add the most value without disrupting the project.

Early engagement of a PM allows you to tap into their knowledge of the best design consultants to assist, known methods of project set up to maximise value, and how best to deliver the project. This is what they do for a living so use their market intelligence and sector knowledge to get the best outcomes.

There is an exponentially increasing cost of change as you move through the project lifecycle phases. While some change is inevitable they should be minimised if your project is guided by an experienced PM.

As you move into the construction phase, funds are already committed and changes will carry additional costs.

At Greenstone Group, we have extensive experience in a diverse range of projects. This affords us a broad outlook on the possibilities for overcoming some of the hurdles you could face and on the opportunities to add value throughout the project.

As an example, the developer of a multi-stage brownfields development, to create a community of approximately 600 homes, brought Greenstone Group into the early stages of the project (after the first stage was nearing completion) to help identify the next stage for the development. Through engagement with the key consultants and a robust design review process, Greenstone Group was able to identify the next stage as well as add significant value by overcoming challenging geotechnical obstacles within the greater development, allowing for a simpler construction process. This created a platform from which the future stages could be developed throughout the entire project. Further, with Greenstone Group’s effective management of the design process, the client was able to start construction four months early and will be able to settle the new development ahead of schedule.

without the early engagement in the concept and design phases, the geotechnical obstacles would not have been as easy to overcome without significant financial investment

In this example, without the early engagement in the concept and design phases, the geotechnical obstacles would not have been as easy to overcome without significant financial investment.

Often Project Managers are brought on once all the decisions have been made on a project, and then the management becomes a more transactional process. The reason for this is that clients don’t want to rack up consultant fees in the beginning, especially when they are trying to keep costs down. Referring back to the above graph, the principle is that it’s easier to influence cost early in a project’s life cycle. A consultants fees are a small percentage of the project when weighed against the possible opportunities and savings that could be identified at those early stages.

Truly successful Value Management is not about removing value from the project, but finding cost effective, innovative solutions to ensure your vision and key outputs are achieved in the most cost effective and value-optimised manner, while contemporaneously reducing risk. Often, with innovative and clever evaluation and solutions (especially if implemented early in the design process), costs can be reduced and in some situations value can be added to provide a better holistic outcome.

We understand that all the costs add up, but a Project Manager can only add value if they are involved. See your Property Advisor and Project Manager for what they are – an investment in your project and a partner towards success, not just a transactional cost.