The project management position is too critical for you to overlook.

Most of you have heard the statement, “You can't put 10 pounds of potatoes in a five-pound bag.” This is the best job description I've ever heard to describe what a project manager does or should be doing! Any good employee wants to be measured fairly and rewarded accordingly. You need to establish a written chain of command to define who he or she is responsible for. Then you can write a detailed scope of work (job description) that lists whatever tasks or duties he is responsible to perform.

By assigning a reasonable number of hours each week to fulfill these responsibilities, you will probably encounter that “10 pounds of potatoes in a five-pound bag” phenomenon. Keep in mind, employees should get credit for all of those responsibilities that are successfully completed on time. They must also accept the blame for any that are not.

That makes it fair.

Watch Out For Those 10 Pounds!

Every company I've worked with has a different scope of work for what they call a project manager:

  • Estimating - This requires marketing (deciding what and where to bid); careful study of plans and specs to eliminate missing, expensive labor or material items; value engineering to find that “better way;” and determining how much should be prefabbed, pre-assembled or bagged-and-tagged. Each bid must be accumulated, checked and submitted on time with applicable overhead, labor burden, insurance and profit. Hours per week _____.

  • Design/build - Negotiated or repeat customers ask for a complete working system; every contractor's dream. Hours per week _____.

  • Hand-off meetings - When you are awarded a contract, your estimator must “hand off” his or her knowledge and ideas to your management team, including project coordinator, purchasing agent, accountant, job superintendent, foreman, shop foreman and warehouse manager. Hours per week _____.

  • Create job schedules - You need this to submit to your client and determine delivery dates for equipment and materials. This schedule will also dictate your manpower and skill-training requirements. Hours per week _____.

  • Purchasing manager - Negotiate and buy out the necessary subs, materials and equipment. This requires checking inventory in your yard and warehouse, as well as determining what should be shipped to your fab shop. Hours per week _____.

  • Submit shop drawings, catalog cuts and samples early enough for approval and on-time delivery. Hours per week _____.

  • Shop drawing approval. Hours per week _____.

  • Director of jobsite personnel - Managing the employees who will install your brand of quality, beat your schedule and your budget. Hours per week _____.

  • Create a cost breakdown and determine percentage of completion for monthly draws. Hours per week _____.

  • Submit RFIs for errors and omissions. Hours per week _____.

  • Attend jobsite meetings - Most projects require attendance at every weekly meeting. Hours per week _____.

  • Process change orders and extras - Some of these require jobsite visits and estimating new drawings. Hours per week _____.

  • Resolve jobsite conflicts. You cannot afford a lack of communication or cooperation with your own employees, the other trades, the customer, design team, inspection agencies, unions and/or neighbors. Hours per week _____.

  • Safety director - Maintaining a safe and secure jobsite that complies with OSHA standards. Hours per week _____.

  • Close out - Submit test and balance data, as-builts, warranties and schedule maintenance instruction for owner's personnel. Hours per week _____.

  • Expedite punch list completion to ensure prompt final payment. Hours per week _____.

  • Monitor rapid response to your customer's needs with warranty and maintenance problems. Hours per week _____.

  • Accumulate and review jobsite labor cost code reports to provide accurate historical bid data for future estimating. Hours per week _____.

  • After-hour emergencies - Be on call and available for critical estimating, catch up on job schedules, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc. Hours per week _____.

  • Hire, orient and train jobsite personnel. Hours per week _____.

  • Coordinate your needs with the service department. Hours per week _____.

  • Handle all legal matters - Liens, claims arbitration, etc. Monitor job logs, create awareness to unfair labor practices, discrimination and harassment at all levels. Hours per week _____.

    I'm sure you'll agree that all of these items are critical and very costly when not taken care of on time. You simply cannot expect someone to undertake all of that responsibility! With a written scope of work and a reasonable time study, you will probably see those 10 pounds of potatoes in your five-pound bag. Being too busy is not an acceptable excuse. These items are all too important.

    You really have two effective options:

      1. You can assign these responsibilities to more than one employee.
      2. You can provide a support staff for your project manager to delegate and monitor whatever items each of those employees can perform satisfactorily.

    Delegate, Monitor, Measure & Reward

    We have always encountered that question of whether a qualified project manager should have jobsite experience or a college education. The answer is both! Your experienced jobsite supervisor can get the necessary education and your college graduate can get some jobsite experience.

    A project manager's background, experience and ability should be considered as you define his or her specific scope of work responsibilities. These same traits should also determine which tasks are effectively delegated to your other staff employees.

    With all of this in place, you can now monitor and measure your project manager's “eight hours work for eight hours pay.” This scorecard will assure him or her of that recognition and appreciation, as well as ammunition for negotiating comparable wages, salary, perks, etc.

    You should also consider the No. 1 rule in Management 101 - to give every employee the most flattering title that describes his or her job properly without being far-fetched or silly. When you review your project managers' job scope of responsibilities, you will consider using vice president of operations or vice president of construction to enhance their image in your business situations and their personal and family pride and prestige.

    Keep in mind our profit-oriented, business-decision-making criteria:

      1. What will it cost?
      2. What will it produce?
      3. What will happen if we don't do it?
    When we are considering something this important that doesn't cost a penny, that decision should be quite easy.

    This project management position is too critical for you to overlook. You cannot expect any good employee to accept the responsibility for what does or doesn't happen on a job without true recognition and appreciation for what they accomplish.

    Ridilla At ISH North America

    Paul Ridilla is a scheduled speaker at this year's ISH North America trade show held Oct. 14-16 in Boston. He will present “Beat Critical Schedules And Tight Labor Budgets: Profit-Oriented Jobsite Team Building Techniques” Thursday, Oct. 14 at 9 a.m., and “Your Female Connection - Today's Quick Fix For Our Critical Skilled Manpower Crisis” Friday, Oct. 15 at 9:45 a.m. To register for the show, visit