In his continuing series of articles, Bryce Yardney, Property Development Specialist at Metropole, explains the role of a project manager and helps you decide whether or not it is the right choice for your development project.
If you are a beginning property developer I would definitely suggest that you recruit a good development/project manager as a part of your team.
Even many experienced developers employ project managers because a good project manager can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Project managers will typically be either an;
• building degree graduate,
• engineering graduate; or
• construction site supervisor
The development manager is primarily responsible for the successful delivery of your project, preferably on time and within budget.
They act as your representative in dealings with architects, various consultants, councils and builders.
Typically, the development manager is involved right from the project’s inception through to completion.
As such, they can assist you, the developer, in the conceptualization of a project, determining its feasibility, obtaining development approval, delivering the end product and finally leasing and selling the project on behalf of the development client.
For larger projects the development manager may be assisted by a project or construction manager.
Development managers must be familiar with the entire development process and have all of the same attributes as a good developer, including the ability to coordinate and motivate a diverse team of professionals and external consultants.
Remember, your development manager is a direct representative of you as the developer and even though you are the person financing the project, they are ultimately accountable for the entire project budget at the end of the day.
A good development manager will be able to foresee potential risks and challenges, as well as opportunities to maximise the profits of a project.
At Metropole Projects, we act as development manager to many clients, administering various residential projects on their behalf from start to finish.
Selecting a project manager
It is critical to acquire the services of a professional and experienced project or development manager who knows exactly what is involved in a development and the complexities and issues that are often associated with residential projects.
Some of the traits that a good project/development manager exhibits include;
1. Technical competence;
2. Excellent people and communication skills;
3. A high degree of self discipline and dedication to their work;
4. An ability to see the big picture and recognise “the wood for the trees”.
Good project management
The first thing a project manager learns about is the “project triangle”; the critical tension between cost, time and quality.
When embarking on a development project you really need to examine your goals and clarify where you want to be in this model.
For instance, if your goal is to complete your project at minimum cost, this will create extra tension on the time and quality elements.
If you want to do things quickly you may have to pay a premium for faster construction, whereas if quality is your primary concern, you are likely to pay more and it will take longer.
In other words, when you get involved in a project you will be working with one friend and two enemies.
It is easy to build a top quality dwelling if you spend a fortune and take a long time to do it, but this is not the most desirable outcome for most developers.
Unfortunately, most beginning developers want it all, but in reality the key to successful project management is to understand the developer’s bias, be it time, money or quality, and then fight with the other two components that are working against you.
Of course your preferred goal should be a balance of all three factors with a bias for one particular element.
Many beginning developers and ‘do it yourself-ers’ have a strong quality goal and commonly go over budget, which contrasts with experienced developers who have a strong cost and time focus and usually make big profits.
The role of the project manager
The project manager will oversee all aspects of your development including;
• Quality Assurance.
As part of the quality assurance on your development, a project manager conducts ongoing evaluations of all the relevant trades as they work on your site to ensure quality at every stage of the project.
They will also ensure that the builder adheres to the specifications which form part of the building contract.
• Time Management.
Time is money and delays on your project can prove very costly.
Your project manager will manage timelines throughout the development process, but keep in mind that many factors will be beyond their control, such as council delays during the development approval phase or wet weather during the construction phase.
Your project manager will ensure that you have a penalty clause in your building contract that compensates you for any unjustifiable time overruns.
A good project manager will ensure your development flows smoothly and everyone works together harmoniously to make the project a success.
Remember that even in a small project there is a multitude of people doing tasks that are dependant upon others completing their tasks, so no matter how large or small your project, the various people involved will need constant co-ordination and will benefit from effective communication.
That is why it is highly advisable for even the most experienced developer to engage the services of a qualified project manager as part of their “A” team.
They can remain objective and professional whilst dealing with what can be very delicate situations to ensure your development stays on track, on time and within budget and will mitigate potential risks wherever possible.
I have seen many beginning developers make the assumption that they can manage the development process themselves, simply by using one of the many project planning and scheduling
programes that you can buy.
The truth is these are only intended as tools for the project manager to use, not as a guide for how to effectively project manage.
Remember that a good project manager has all of the personal qualities required to get a development off the ground and see it right trough to completion, including patience, focus and resourcefulness.
It is this mix of control, leadership, diplomacy and the ability to manage people that will make your project successful.
In Part 16 of the series I’ll look at how to find the perfect builder and work with them to bring your property development dream to reality.
If you want to learn more about the property development process you may be interested in How To Get Started in Property Development
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