Project Management

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Topics: Construction, Work Breakdown Structures (WBS)
How to start introducing formal PM processes into organisation?
Hi all,

I'm a project engineer/manager in a very small construction company with no formal PM processes in place. I've been through three small-ish projects now and saw many things that could have been done better. I have no influence on tendering (yet) and my work commences when we land the contract.

My question to you experienced people is, how do I successfully sell the changes to the management?

My plan is to start implementing necessities like WBS, risk register, communications plan and some method of status tracking as the first step.
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The areas of project management you mentioned can be introduced into your company and can provide some benefit, as long as management see that benefit. It's the chicken and the egg I'm afraid in industries such as construction. The fact that is a small company doesn't help to sell those benefits either. But what it does do is allow you to pilot something yourself and present those benefits upon completion. The WBS, risk register and communications place is a good place to start.

When you say no formal PM processes in place, how do they project manage their construction projects?
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1 reply by Kristian Soini
Jun 13, 2018 2:02 AM
Kristian Soini
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Sante, there is an outline of the upcoming tasks and and most pressing issues are taken care of first.

George and Sachin, thanks for your input. I surely am changing whatever I can to make my own life easier.
Kristian - I think if you start with the most basic planning documents and see that you're well organized, like a communications plan for example. Start with the basics.
I agree with George. Start with simple ones that will make your life as manager easy.
Then try to introduce some overall process changes. Since the company is small, they may not be big on buying tools and other laptop/ softwares. Go with paper tools and techniques. Probably your risk, issue log can be a book.
Once the company realizes the benefits of this approach, they will start looking into it.
Jun 12, 2018 8:56 PM
Replying to Sante Vergini
...
The areas of project management you mentioned can be introduced into your company and can provide some benefit, as long as management see that benefit. It's the chicken and the egg I'm afraid in industries such as construction. The fact that is a small company doesn't help to sell those benefits either. But what it does do is allow you to pilot something yourself and present those benefits upon completion. The WBS, risk register and communications place is a good place to start.

When you say no formal PM processes in place, how do they project manage their construction projects?
Sante, there is an outline of the upcoming tasks and and most pressing issues are taken care of first.

George and Sachin, thanks for your input. I surely am changing whatever I can to make my own life easier.
First thing to do is to understand what project management process are needed as part of your organizational strategy. Indeed you are following some of them in a non-formal way but when you try to put them formally you will need from others to create some deliverables and to control and monitoring the project and that implies extra time from them. Indeed, that time must be into the project schedule but you have to convince them the value on that. Here comes the second part. You need to demostrate the benefit (not yh value) to perform formal project manager and the definition of benefit is "an outcome whose nature and value are considered advantageous by an enterprise". You have to work on defining the components on the definition. For example, value. Those components are subjective and you have to transform them into objective ones. For example, the definition of value is "relationship between satisfying needs and expectations and the resources required to achieve them". Here again "needs" and "expectations" must be translated into something objective. I am not a sell man but i was trained into sales methods that helps me a lot on "selling" some of that things. One of the best are "Solution Selling" or SPIN Selling selling method. You will find a lot into the internet.
Great advice thus far. Understand the needs, introduce small to show the value. The goal is to insert process without disturbing flow. Help them to understand the benefits and not simply that its new process for process sake.
Hi Kristian - Working for small to medium Australian construction companies, I have spent some time asking myself the same question. In my experience in this sector we tend to reinvent the wheel for every new project (to an extent). A few items that I have had success with:

After utilising MasterFormat to first standardise construction information in my filing system, WBS, schedule etc, I am also working on creating a 'master template' from a current (live project) schedule. This is being followed by a Schedule Management Plan to standardise how the schedule is written, updated, statused, presented etc.

Also, I have found that company Scope of Works (statement of works) for subcontracting have generally had very little project specific science behind them. By taking a 'whole of project' approach to define the WBS (in line with MasterFormat/Omniclass Tables), I can then apportion out for subcontracts, with the intention of capturing all scope and reducing/eliminating variations due to scope gaps - this can take some time and effort depending on size of project, but worth it in my opinion.

You may be able to begin implementing plans as you suggested without going against the company standard operating procedures (if they have any), or maybe present your ideas as updates to the Integrated Management System (if they have one).

Continuous improvement of existing systems, supplementing with new processes, and generally working towards best practice seems to be the way to go. Also acknowledging lessons learned (as you mentioned) is very important.
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1 reply by Kristian Soini
Jun 20, 2018 11:15 PM
Kristian Soini
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Thanks Mark

It's good to get a local experienced view.
Jun 15, 2018 6:35 AM
Replying to Mark O`Connell
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Hi Kristian - Working for small to medium Australian construction companies, I have spent some time asking myself the same question. In my experience in this sector we tend to reinvent the wheel for every new project (to an extent). A few items that I have had success with:

After utilising MasterFormat to first standardise construction information in my filing system, WBS, schedule etc, I am also working on creating a 'master template' from a current (live project) schedule. This is being followed by a Schedule Management Plan to standardise how the schedule is written, updated, statused, presented etc.

Also, I have found that company Scope of Works (statement of works) for subcontracting have generally had very little project specific science behind them. By taking a 'whole of project' approach to define the WBS (in line with MasterFormat/Omniclass Tables), I can then apportion out for subcontracts, with the intention of capturing all scope and reducing/eliminating variations due to scope gaps - this can take some time and effort depending on size of project, but worth it in my opinion.

You may be able to begin implementing plans as you suggested without going against the company standard operating procedures (if they have any), or maybe present your ideas as updates to the Integrated Management System (if they have one).

Continuous improvement of existing systems, supplementing with new processes, and generally working towards best practice seems to be the way to go. Also acknowledging lessons learned (as you mentioned) is very important.
Thanks Mark

It's good to get a local experienced view.
great advice from Andrew and Mark. Start small as per needs and present the process you followed and show the value of introducing these.
ALL-
Great topic Kristian!
I agree with all the comments provided above, and I really appreciate Mark's common sense approach-it brings back memories to me of my youthful start up days as a General Contractor.
The best advice I can give you is this:
Start at the beginning.
You should sit down and create a Project Management Plan for your Project, even a simplified version. As you put your explanation of how you will conduct and execute your Project, including personnel and responsibility matrix, the exercise will force you to confront each process in your Plan. You should examine and confront each process (Safety, Contracts Management, Stakeholder Management, Schedule Management, Procurement, Subcontracting, Change Management, Execution, Quality Management, Financial Management, etc.) and write/think through those areas in practical and actual terms.
You need to think through and record a realistic plan within the current capabilities of your young firm. This exercise will also reveal to you which boundaries you want to push in each of the key areas.
This is the method I used during my Firm's Youthful years. A task as simple as describing (in the Plan) the tasks required of the Project Manager, Construction Manager and Superintendent (Similar to a job description for a Recruiter) forces you to think about those roles and their contributions to Project success.
Good Luck!

From the trenches!
M

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