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#19843 - 01/04/03 08:22 AM Project Manager advice
BrianSparky Offline
Member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 38
Loc: Lakewood,CO
Happy New Year fellow Sparktricians!

I sort of became a de-facto project manager when I hired on to the company I now work for.
Seems that I had more experience/knowledge on fire alarm systems than the other journeymen.
Though it was in the middle/end phase of a huge job (1.2 million square feet) and a lot of details and headaches, I sort of took over as both a project manager and lead with the presidents/owners blessings.
The question I put forth to all sage readers of this forum is:
"What pearls of wisdom and advice would you impart to someone who wishes to become a project manager?"
I appreciate any advice you could share!
(except the advice to screw yourself, I already have a screw gun, thanks)
Thanks,
Brian

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#19844 - 01/04/03 10:53 AM Re: Project Manager advice
NoShorts4Me Offline
Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 35
Loc: southern california
Documentation..Documentation..Documentation.

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#19845 - 01/04/03 11:40 AM Re: Project Manager advice
Roger Offline
Member

Registered: 05/18/02
Posts: 1779
Loc: N.C.
Brian, make sure the monetary gain is worth the added pressure and gray hair.

If I had it to do over again, I would have just said no.

This is just my oppinion.

The most enjoyable position I feel, was being a superintendant. There were plenty of headaches and sleepless nights even there, but nothing in comparison to P.M.

The pay worked out better in reality due to the fact that overtime was overtime. As a P.M. you will find yourself working many hours with no additinal compensation.

Granted there is prestige that comes to play but, think hard before jumping in.

I thought that I could just throw in the towel if I didn't like it, but it isn't that easy.

People are depending on you, and you just can't walk away.

Anyway thats my 2 cents.

Good Luck

Roger

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#19846 - 01/04/03 04:57 PM Re: Project Manager advice
gramps Offline
Member

Registered: 08/25/02
Posts: 120
Loc: ohio
what will they expect of you, when the projects are over? sometimes, the "blessings" from the upper management are short-lived, to say the least.........then where will you be?

just food for thought..........

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#19847 - 01/04/03 06:16 PM Re: Project Manager advice
BuggabooBren Offline
Member

Registered: 11/15/01
Posts: 336
Loc: NM
Ahhh, welcome to the wild world of PM...

First, there's the 'formal' realm of PM wherein the powers that be will go on for hours regarding the Triple Constraint (Scope, Schedule, and Cost) that in lay terms is "What work needs done, when and at what cost?" and usually tack on the two very important but often overlooked elements of Quality and Risk (plan quality in rather than scraping or reworking after poor quality work and what are the risks and what do we do to prevent, avoid, or mitigate them?) They'll also provide wisdom in cliche form: Plan the Work and Work the Plan followed in short order by the corollary of Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail. So... the heavier emphasis is on planning in theory. In the real world we often don't have too much time to plan and in your case, none or precious little.

So, what to do NOW? Document, even if you feel you don't have time - make some notes, get them into some sort of template that allows you to show what work was planned, what cost, what schedule and then use a similar format to report progress or performance. This will look totally legit if you can compare it against the original plan (also called a baseline) in terms of % complete and if possible, show variances against the plan in terms of cost and schedule. For example:
Budget: $100,
Actual: $110,
Performance: $95
Cost Variance: $10 overspent
Schedule Variance: $5 behind schedule
Narrative: "We had planned on spending $100 (and getting $100 worth of work) but spent $110 to do $95 worth of work."

If you can provide an executive type of report along those lines, you'll be seen as the awesome knight who dares to visit the trenches but cleans up nicely enough to visit the throne or board room and speaks regally.

Finally, with that documentation, CLOSEOUT of the project is kind of like cleaning up and shaking hands that the deal is done. Complete a final report, put all documentation together in a file folder or box, and have whomever is the big kahuna sign off on 'delivery and acceptance, tranisition to maintenance, transfer of ownership, etc.' and then decide if you want to continue in the PM world.

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#19848 - 01/05/03 01:36 AM Re: Project Manager advice
Scott35 Offline

Broom Pusher and
Member

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 2724
Loc: Anaheim, CA. USA
Become fluent with Microsoft Project!!!

Also get ready for Conference calls, E-Mails to vendors, architects, engineers, etc., RFIs, site meetings, supporting your personnel in the field, and not seeing your spouse very much!

I have advise and examples of what to do plus what not to do, but one very good piece of advice which will keep you in check with everyone is to always have an "Open Door" policy for suggestions, questions, discussions and most importantly - critisism!

When you are able to view a project from all angles, you can keep from making the mistakes I have witnessed many times in Management.
One common situation comes to mind where a certain Manager places his/her self in a non-reachable state, and all the mistakes that person makes are "everyone else's fault" because "they did not mention anything".
I left my previous employeer due to this.

Scott s.e.t.
_________________________
Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!

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#19849 - 10/10/05 01:20 PM Re: Project Manager advice
FrankC Offline
Member

Registered: 03/30/04
Posts: 12
Loc: San Luis Obispo,CA
Brian:
you have a challenging position that puts you in the view of owner,AHJ,your employer, and the hands who use the tools. Three points I'd make:
1)don't procrastinate- keep your records up, and stay ahead of the project.The PM is expected to give instant answers to status questions. Document slowdowns,extra degrees of difficulty, existing problems in remodels, and a whole lot more.
2)keep everyone who should be in the loop informed.This is lot of legwork,emails,and just plain personal contact. You'll get results if people know you are up to date and keeping an eye on things.
3)assume nothing, check it out. I was PM on a conversion of a big FA system for a performing arts center. The system had been in ten years,and was failing. My assumption that it had been wired correctly was wrong. No fault of the original electricians, the FA salesman left them to fend for themselves, and a lot of mistakes were made, that never shopwed up. For instance, the concealed backbox for the speaker strobe,had an extension box in front, to add more space, but someone decided to pigtail the strobe circuits instead of looping them,to save space. This T-tapped the strobes, and there was no supervision. we had to go through about 140 boxes, and change the wiring just to bring it to compliance. This was a state job, no inpectors who understood FA systems, and a rush to get a very visible building up for a grand opening. Know what you are getiing in to,and good luck.

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#19850 - 10/10/05 04:42 PM Re: Project Manager advice
LK Offline

Member

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 1721
Loc: New Jersey
A little late on this one, check the posting dates, this may help you respond to recent postings.

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#19851 - 10/16/05 12:03 PM Re: Project Manager advice
Rich Thomas Offline
Member

Registered: 03/09/05
Posts: 48
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
FrankC, I like your reply. I think it clearly sums up what's important. I wish PM's would actually do these things, but in my experience, few do.

I know, this response is late for the original message. Maybe FrankC will see it.

RT

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