4 Essential Project Management Tips for A/E Professionals

Steven Burns, FAIA
Posted on: 09/07/16
Written by: Steven Burns, FAIA

HiRes-6PM_image-639315-edited.jpgManaging a team of people, especially creative people, is a task that not everyone is up for. Keeping your team on the same page while maintaining a schedule and budget that can keep your corporation happy will take confidence and bountiful people skills. 

Natural leaders can come across as an authority with ease, but to successfully manage a project, you must also be able to seem worthy of respect by team members. Alienate your team, and the project is less likely to stay on track. Here are some tips for effectively managing a project.


Know Your Stuff

A good project manager won’t just have people skills; they will also know about the industry in which the project fits. A leader who doesn’t know enough about the industry or the specific goals of the project won’t create the most useful strategy and the team is sure to sniff that out. Be familiar with the industry or product associated with your project so that you have a solid insight about where the project needs to go and how your team will get there. Listen to your employees’ insight as well, especially if they have extensive experience in the field.

Establish Key Performance Indicators

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are how your project team will know if they were successful at the end of the day. These indicators are often related to quantifiable items like sales or new customer leads. Determine your KPIs at the outset of the project, so your team clearly understands the motivation behind their efforts and can work accordingly. KPIs might include an increase in social media engagement by a specific percentage, a certain number of units sold, or a website hit target goal.

Prevent Delays

Project delays translate to a postponement of goals and the suffering of the related KPIs. A project calendar that is available to all team members at all times will help you collectively stay on track. iCloud calendars are a smart way to let everyone see where key deadlines are and who is responsible for reporting on them. A good project manager won’t breathe down the necks of his employees, but rather check in periodically to ensure that the project budget and timeline are still in line with the goals. He will offer motivations or troubleshooting as soon as possible if the project starts to fall behind.

Stay on Budget

Itemize your budget early on in the project. A vague window of how much is allotted for each specific task may easily lead to a habit of overspending and could sabotage your entire project. When you give large windows of spending and everyone chooses to spend on the high-end of that scale – trouble ensues. Clearly communicate the spending limit for each task, and allot about 10% of your budget for unexpected excesses. This will give you some wiggle room for unexpected fees, advertising, or employee expenses. Check in weekly on the budget status and adjust the project accordingly if you see a trend of overspending.

Project management allows you to provide a big picture oversight to an endeavor, leaving qualified team members to handle most of the day-to-day tasks. In order to successfully and efficiently manage your project, it’s important to have motivated team members who know when to make a call or when to call you in as reinforcement. Staying on top of the budget and timeline concerns will allow you to see the direction that your project is headed, and quickly identify problem team members or areas where there is a lack of expertise.

About the Author: 
Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing his firm Burns + Beyerl Architects. Afterwards, he brought his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is perfecting the business strategy and product development as Chief Creative Officer.

BQE Software offers powerful project management and accounting solutions for architects, engineers, and other professional services firms. Their flagship product, BillQuick is a powerful project accounting and job costing software that helps you stay on top of your projects. It also allows you to track the financial progress of every project so you know which projects bring in the most value to your firm. You can visit their website to sign up for a Free Trial account.

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