Find a Project Manager

Find a Project Manager for ventures of any size to oversee any residential, commercial or industrial project. Whether you are planning a renovation or preparing for an entirely new construction, an ideal Project Manager for any location in Australia can be found here. All your questions about choosing, hiring and working with Project Managers and the complete building process are answered below. +

Published by Martyn Sanjay

Preliminaries

Finding and hiring a project manager

Defects, disputes and redress


What is project management?

Project management involves the organisation, management, and supervision of all aspects of a construction project throughout its duration, from initial concept to final takeover. It involves the organisation and coordination of resources in order to effect completion within defined time and cost constraints.

What do project managers do?

Project managers are responsible for coordinating the construction of large building projects such as hotels, factories, office blocks, home unit developments, schools, hospitals and housing developments.

The first responsibility of a project manager is to ensure that a project is delivered within defined cost, time and quality constraints, by manipulating variables such as labour rates, material rates, risk management, plant, equipment, and project profit. Project managers should also ensure project quality, paying proper attention to the overall intention of the project, and to the specific description of the desired final product. It is also the project manager’s responsibility to decide if more time should be allocated to a particular task to ensure exceptional completion of the particular component.

The second objective of a project manager is the optimised distribution and integration of the inputs needed to meet defined aims. During this process a project manager should perform the following tasks: interpret plans and estimate costs and quantities of materials needed; plan construction methods and procedures; coordinate the supply of labour and materials; supervise construction sites; ensure standards of building performance, quality, cost schedules and safety are maintained; study building contract documents and negotiate with building owners and subcontractors; control preparation of cost estimates and the documentation for contract bids; control payment to subcontractors by valuation of completed works; make sure that building regulations, standards and by-laws are enforced in building operations; consult with architects, engineers and other technical workers to make sure that design intentions are met.

Do I need a project manager?

In recent years there has been a growing awareness of project management as a special skill and competency that is learned and applied, much the same as the traditional specialisations of engineering or architecture. This has meant that project managers are now commonly employed on both large residential and commercial projects. That being said, you will probably not need a project manager if you are undertaking a small residential project of which management is relatively simple.

A good working definition of a project that may require the skills of a professional manager is one that has defined deliverables; crosses functional boundaries; changes business processes; involves part-time participants who have to take on the project work in addition to their existing work; and has long term impacts on how successfully a particular business area will operate in the future.

Project managers are especially important in the public sector. Many public agencies, especially in smaller communities, may have little experience in substantial construction projects, whereas their contracted construction firm may construct numerous similar projects in the course of a year. This often results in a knowledge and experience gap between parties. The integration of a project management firm into the project reduces the disparity in experience between the project owner and the construction firm.

At what stage in the process should I get a project manager in?

Generally, the first firm hired for a project should be the project manager. This is because a project manager is most effective when they are part of the design, bringing great value to a project before the contractor is on-site. Also, by being there from the beginning, a project manager can work with the owner to develop contract documents that are owner-friendly, as well as focusing on pre-construction services, value engineering and cost estimating on the front end, which will help control costs and ensure adherence to the schedule.

What qualifications and accreditation should project managers have?

The specialised work of project managers requires rigorous training and a high level of technical knowledge. Ensure that the project manager you engage possesses the relevant tertiary academic qualifications accredited by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM). There numerous universities that offer AIPM accredited degrees in project management: the University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle, University of Sydney, UTS, University of Western Sydney, QUT, University of Southern Queensland, University of South Australia, Deakin University, RMIT, University of Melbourne, Victoria University, and CUT.

Also check whether the project manager is a registered member of the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM). But be aware that AIPM membership is stratified according to professional experience and training, so AIPM registration alone is not an iron-clad guarantee of quality work.

A Fellow of AIPM (FAIPM) is a person who has rendered exceptional service to the project management profession.

A full Member of AIPM (MAIPM) has demonstrated skills, knowledge and competency to perform in the role of Project Manager, Programme Manager or Programme Director. They fully understand and are competent in all components of a project’s life cycle.

An Associate Member of AIPM (AAIPM) is a person who has attained formal qualifications in Project Management, has received recognised Certification in Project Management or can demonstrate significant experience in Project Management.

An Affiliate of AIPM is a person who has an interest in Project Management. Formal qualifications or certification in project management are not required, and neither is significant experience in project management.

To further confirm the quality of the project manager inquire as to whether he or she is a member of a reputable professional body such as the Australian Institute of Building (AIB), the Master Builders Association (NSW), the International Project Management Association (IPMA), the International Association of Project and Program Management (IAPPM), the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE), or the Project Management Institute (PMI).

If your project is large and complex you should ensure that the track-record of the contracted project manager is sound, and that only someone with AIPM Associate Membership or above is responsible for the high risk or complex areas of approving tender/contract documents and construction administration.

What is the relevant legislation that covers project managers?

Project managers must comply with the relevant Commonwealth and State legislation. This includes the Trade Practices Act, which seeks to prevent restrictive trade practices, promote competition and fair trading, and to provide for consumer protection.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is the statutory authority responsible for administering and ensuring compliance with the Trades Practices Act. As a result, individuals can bring an action only in limited circumstances under the Act’s consumer protection division. These parts deal with unfair practices, product safety and information, conditions and warranties in consumer transactions, actions against manufacturers/importers of goods, and product liability. Seek legal advice if you suspect a contracted project manager of breaching the Trade Practices Act.

The relevant state Office of Fair Trading sets and maintains standards of competence for builders and tradespeople, and issues licences and certificates if needed under the requirements of the Home Building Act in NSW and equivalent legislation in other Australian states.

In certain circumstances project managers may be required to comply with State Building legislation. A project manager may need to hold a certificate under the relevant Act to do residential work if he or she: is contracted to do residential building work where the labour and materials content is worth more than $1,000; or is undertaking specialist work. Consult the relevant state legislation for more information or seek legal advice.

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How do I find a list of project managers?

Specifier.com.au has a comprehensive database of Australian project managers and engineers. You can search your local area and you will be given a list of relevant names and contact details.

How do I choose a good project manager?

The official website of the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) includes a list of its members. The directory sketches an outline of the services offered and areas of expertise of each practice and member. But be careful – the information is provided and updated by the members themselves.

Industry publications are another good source of information. Have a look at Australian Project Manager, the International Journal of Project Management, PM Network Online, PROJECT Magazine, or Project Manager Today Magazine.

If nothing much turns up, try consulting the member lists of reputable industry bodies such as the Australian Institute of Building (AIB), the Master Builders Association (MBA), International Project Management Association (IPMA), International Association of Project and Program Management (IAPPM), Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE), or the Project Management Institute (PMI).

How do I know if a project manager is any good?

The most important thing is to check that the purported project manager possesses concrete academic qualifications and accreditation. Also, check whether they’re a member of a reputable professional body, such as the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) or Master Builders Association (MBA).

Industry awards are another mark of professional quality – but do keep in mind who funds and runs the awards, and why. The annual AIPM Project Management Achievement Awards (PMAA) recognise excellence in all aspects of Project Management across Australia. Note also that various industry publications confer annual awards.

Should I investigate more than one firm?

Yes, unless you have had a previous association with a project manager that worked well. However, because the industry is not regulated strictly it is advisable to investigate a number of options.

How do I narrow down a shortlist of project managers?

Go online and visit the websites of some project managers. Search for websites using a reliable industry engine such as specifier.com.au.

A thorough project manager website should provide examples of their past projects as well as their industry experience, academic qualifications and any awards received. This online investigation should give you a general idea of the type and scope of the professional’s work.

How much should I pay a project manager?

Estimating the cost of employing a project manager is difficult and varies greatly depending on the type and scale of the project, as well as on the experience and reputation of the particular professional.

How is payment organised for a project manager?

When hiring an independent consultant for a project, cost will typically be determined by the consultant's or firm's per diem rate, multiplied by an estimated quantity for completion. A project manager may also charge via a variable flat fee, or may establish his or her fee early in the design phase.

Can a project manager save me on costs?

Yes. Project managers are experts when it comes to reducing costs. In addition to maximising time efficiency they are trained in how to manipulate variables such as labour rates, material rates, risk management, plant, equipment, and profit, which contribute to overall project cost.

How do I tender for a project manager?

Project management contracts are usually put to tender.

There are two general methods of tender. Public tendering is by invitation extended via the press and is open to all irrespective of qualifications or experience. Private tendering usually involves the pre-selection of candidates with a familiarity and sound history in your type of project. Selective tendering in the project management context is commonly restricted to five or six contractors and except for large public projects private tendering is the norm.

In evaluating tenders you should pay consideration primarily to value for money but also to the tenderer’s ability to meet the project schedule, to appropriately staff your project, and to provide the necessary equipment. You should also consider the tenderer’s experience in your type of project, their reputation for quality work, and their financial stability.

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How do I protect myself from legal problems?

Criminal liability is rare in the project management area. However civil liability does sometimes arise, usually for breach of contract. Civil liability can also arise in equity (for restitution), under the Trade Practices Act, and in tort (usually for negligence). For more information seek legal advice.

Make sure that you contract with a project manager who is covered by professional indemnity insurance. Insurance cover increases the viability of legal action as an effective method of redress for professional negligence claims. However, be aware that the number of project managers with professional indemnity insurance cover has fallen dramatically as cover grows more expensive. The number of professional indemnity insurance providers in Australia dropped from about 35 to less than 5 in the last twelve months.

Within the limits imposed by law, equity and legislation, parties to a contract are able to exclude or modify their obligations as they see fit. This means that it is totally legal for a project manager to draft an agreement which excludes him or her from liability, or to construct a contract in which one party purports to indemnify another. It remains impossible for the parties to a contract to exclude statutory obligations that arise under the Trade Practices Act or under similar State and Territory legislation.

Make sure you seek legal advice before entering into any legally binding contract.