• Duane C. Barney

If you are a builder - Project management IS your business

If you are a Builder, Remodeler or General Contractor you are in the project management business, you just happen to manage construction. We live and die one project at a time, so how you manage your project is how you manage your business because that is your business.

We work ourselves out of work, one project at a time. It is all about signing up and completing the next project, so if it is central to all that you do then managing it well is the key to success. Project management is about the process, Project management is information management, if you get this right you will know where you are going and how you got there.

One of the key elements to managing a project is understanding that ALL information flows through the project manager, without this key step control of the project is lost. This is a huge task! You can become overwhelmed with information, receiving it, distributing it, pricing it and managing it. Your business is unique in the way you manage your projects. There is very little else from the client’s point of view that will distinguish you. The design is set, materials have been selected the layout and plans are defined. When it is complete, by you or another builder it will look the same. The only difference is how you get from the lead call to move in. So, your management style is your business and it starts with the first call where you gather information for the first time.

Your business is unique ONLY in the way you manage your projects

If you look at project management backwards as an ability to follow the information and the flow when the job is completed, then you can lay it out in a fashion that works for you. Six, eight or twelve months from now, how you will know what was reviewed at that first call how was it filed and is it clear to someone else? This is the start of information management and thus project management. Each of us will have our own process which is why we are unique and believe we are better at this than everyone else; at least I know I am. Develop a system and look for ways to improve it every day, when there is an information gap find a way to close it for the next job. As you do each step write it down, this becomes your operations manual, it will change as your business changes but will be an invaluable tool as you grow and hire out all the roles you do now. Your first project manager will have written guidelines to follow that defines how your business runs and what sets you out from the pack.

To integrate project management seamlessly into accounting I recommend a cost code system that mimics the CSI codes. This should be established from estimating to the contract to billing and payment. Follow one number and everything you want to know about drywall will be there. We may shy away from cost codes and numbers, but they are an easy way to follow the same item through information management to financial management.

Study project management, best practices and how to be great at it. It defines how you do business for the Clients and your vendors and is the distinguishing factor that sets you apart from your competition.

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