How Firms Keep Projects Under Budget and Clients Happy

David Burstein, P.E.
Posted on: 10/09/15
Written by: David Burstein, P.E.

How well does your firm achieve project budget performance and client satisfaction? These are among the key challenges faced by all project managers—no matter the firm type, size, or geographic location.

What can your firm do to achieve the best results in project management performance? What is the impact of such factors as PM training and certification, not to mention project planning and control?

These are just some of questions addressed in PSMJ’s most recent study: Delivering World Class A/E Project Management Performance: How Today’s Most Successful A/E Firms Keep Their Projects Under Budget and Their Clients Happy

Do architecture and engineering firms train their project managers?
In this study, we were particularly interested in how (or if) firms conduct project management training.  As such, we asked a number of questions related to the format and delivery of training programs.

Interestingly, we found that less than one-third each of all firms either train some of their project managers, or have no formal project management training program at all. The largest percentage (37%) of firms formally train most or all of their project managers. 

Training results in project improvement.
When we asked firms if they think that PM training has resulted in firm-wide project improvement, the biggest response was: “We believe we have achieved firm-wide improvement, but haven’t tried to measure it.” The second biggest response was" “We have seen improvement in the performance of some PM’s but not firm-wide.” 

PMTreffMore PM training the better.
Then, we took a look at the effectiveness of PM training, and found a distinct relationship between the number of project managers who go through formal training and the effectiveness of that training.

The curve on the effectiveness of PM training goes straight up from some to most to all PMs go through a formal training program (See figure right)

PM training has impact.
We also wanted to know how different levels of PM training impact budget performance and client satisfaction.


In terms of project budget performance, we saw the same kind of straight-line relationship from "firms that have no formal PM training program" up to "firms that put all of their PMs through a formal training program."

In other words, firms that reported that "they formally train all of their project managers," achieved the highest level of budget performance. The takeaway: Well trained project managers know how to keep projects on budget.


And then, when we looked at client satisfaction, we saw an even sharper ascent from firms that have no formal project management training program to firms that put all their PMs through a formal training program.

To put it another way, firms
that said that they have no formal PM had the lowest level of client satisfaction. The takeaway here: Training has a definite impact on client satisfaction.

With 223 participants and in-depth analysis on how a variety of factors impact project budget performance and client satisfaction, this is a comprehensive research study of project management best practices in the A/E industry.

Moreover, we wrap up the report with nine specific recommendations based on how successful firms are able to keep projects under budget, while also keeping their clients happy. Our goal is to provide new insight into best practices for successful project management.

About the Author: David Burstein P.E. is Director of Client Services for PSMJ Resources, Inc. He provides consulting and training services on the subjects of strategic planning, marketing, project management, human resources, quality, finance and ownership transition. He is a lead instructor for PSMJ's AEC Project Management Bootcamp.

2015_PM_Study_Full_Report_sidewaysHis recently released report Delivering World Class A/E Project Management Performance:How Firms Keep Projects Under Budget and Clients Happy is available now as a free download to PSMJ newsletter subscribers, just another of the many  perks of PSMJ membership.


Learn more now!



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