Improving project management in your firm

Aug 09, 2016

Mark Zweig, The Zweig LetterEveryone wants better project management. That's why principals of AEC companies spend more time and money on PM training than any other type of business training. But I'm not here to talk about training. I am here instead to talk about some things you can do to improve your overall PM effectiveness firm-wide. Here are a few ideas for you:
  1. Stop using your lowest rated PMs as project managers. In most companies, about 30 percent of your PMs should never manage another project. Rarely is being a PM a full-time role. So just use those people doing stuff they can do and give their projects to your top-ranked PMs.
  1. Stop making the wrong people manage projects. You know what I'm talking about here. ‎And you know when you give someone a PM role and it's a mistake, too. People with short tempers, people who don't listen, people who can't influence anyone – just stop doing it. Give your best managers more projects to manage.
  1. Stop using PMs as bill collectors. Most of them are lousy at it and it puts them in a tough role with their clients. And stop telling me this is a cop-out and PMs need to do this job. They don't. Let your F&A people do the job and only involve your PM if there's a dispute on scope or deliverables.
  1. Stop making your PMs do stupid stuff that demotivates them. It's hard enough doing the job when few or no people actually report to you on a permanent basis. So why make your PMs suffer through needlessly long meetings or fill out unnecessary internal forms for things?
  1. Track and publish PM performance metrics for all to see. Just showing the numbers to the PMs themselves will not work. You have to create peer pressure and complete transparency so everyone can see numbers such as budget-to-actual variance, WIP write-offs, dollar amount of work managed, average collection period, and more – all by individual PM.
  1. Make everyone do a weekly job status report. Send this to your client, your client's boss, and everyone on the entire project team inside and outside of the company. Keep it simple – what you did this week, what's happening next week, and other "issues," such as you need to get paid for a bill that is now 60 days old (or anything else). These reports are essential!! Don't wait for your client to demand one to do it. Make it part of your PM process.
If everyone who runs an AEC firm would just do these things, their companies would be so much more successful and their lives so much better! Check out: Introduction to Project Management Seminar and Advanced PM Seminar. 6 PDHs/CEUs 2016 Project Management Survey Successful Project Management for A/E/P Firms

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at

This article is from issue 1156 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here for to get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.