An article caught my eye the other day about the similarity between a great project leader and a great football coach. The best project managers are usually the best planners. Same with football coaches.
Coaching football. Successful football organizations consist of specialized teams or units: (a) the offense; (b) the defense; and (c) and special teams. Within those teams there is often a further specialization. For example, the defensive team consists of linemen, linebackers and secondary. All of these specialized units must plan and work together in order to be successful. In construction, the specialized units consist of crews headed by project engineers and/or foremen.
Planning the project. After a contract is awarded, the contractor’s first task is to put together a project management team. The makeup of the team will obviously depend on the size of the project and the contractor’s field personnel. On a big project constructed by a large company, there may be project engineers. On a smaller project, there may only be foremen. The team may or may not have been involved with estimating the project. Once the team has been assembled, the project engineers and foremen must study the plans and specifications in great detail. The project engineers must consult with the estimators to learn how the estimators conceptualized and bid the project. Taking the estimators’ concepts, the project engineers and/or foremen develop a detailed, coherent work plan for constructing the project.
Only change I’d suggest in this comparison is that, in our experience, a well-experienced and properly credentialed project manager is needed to field marshal the entire construction process–including the hiring of the general contractor. The project manager is your man on the team. He keeps open communications with the contractor, pushes for deadlines, analyzes issues that crop up, and when he does his job right, saves you money and time on the project.