Iconic Project Management are proud to work with several restaurants across the UK, helping them achieve their objectives and ensuring they can open their new site, on time, on budget and on brief. We spoke to Director of Project Management, Darren Hewitt about what it means to have a project management led approach.
Q&A with Darren Hewitt, Director of Project Management.
What is project management?
Project management is really making sure everybody does what they are supposed to do, when they are supposed to do it. It doesn’t sound particularly complicated, but it is all about building relationships with your client, with the supply chain and with the other consultants, to make sure everyone works with a common aim to a common objective. Communication is a huge part of our role, and it doesn’t matter whether we are working for a private individual building a house, a company building a restaurant, or a multi-national company building one hundred stores. Communicating with all those parties involved is a key element: Making sure everybody is informed, everybody knows what’s going well and what challenges and risks we have.
How do you recognise the need for a project manager?
Fundamentally, it’s realising that there is activity that you either don’t understand, or that you appreciate that you don’t have the time, skill set and knowledge to be able to either, answer, guide, or implement. That’s the most important thing for people to consider. Ultimately, if you don’t know enough about what you’re doing, you evidently need some help!
What do you need to know about your business before you engage with a project manager?
If you take a restaurant owner as an example, they know they need a building, a kitchen, tables, and chairs, and how they must produce and market a project, but that is probably it. They don’t know anything about how you get planning permission, engage a builder, or control their costs, but why would they? That’s why you engage with a project manager.
Why use a project manager and not just a contractor lead solution?
The contractor primarily has their objectives at the front of their mind, which is essentially, how do they make money out of your project? The project manager, although they are paid a fee to undertake the work that they are there to do, is motivated to make sure your project is successful against the criteria of your brief. In comparison, the contractor is focused on the build project in front of them. We also complete extra tasks like, liaising with third parties, assessing Health and Safety compliance, and using our industry knowledge to propose preferred consultants or suppliers. We can add value to your project by, acting as a sounding board for thoughts and ideas (a critical friend), research and propose value engineering ideas and present solutions not problems.
How does a project manager manage conflicts during the project?
In the context of conflict, we are interested in the outcome effectively being a collaborative one. We are not interested in the client or contractor winning, we’re really interested in getting a middle ground agreed and a way for everyone to move forward. If conflict goes to a resolution which is a dispute or a legal challenge, it effectively means that the project is not going to achieve all its aims. One of its aims is going to fail, be that completing on time, achieving budget, or the quality of the build. So, the project manager, in the sense of conflict, is there to make sure you get to a resolution that allows the project to meet its aims. If you just have client and contractor and, let’s say you have fallen out over money, if the contractor doesn’t get paid the money they want, they are not going to complete the work.
Ultimately you can procced with a legal challenge, but that is going to cost you more money, and it won’t necessarily get the resolution that you want, which is for them to complete the work for the price you agreed. The project manager is there to make sure that doesn’t happen. At some point during a contractor led scenario, you are going to have some level of conflict that you are going to have to deal with yourself. The question you must ask is, are you equipped to deal with that conflict or not? If you are not, then it is going to end up in some form of dispute, and that will lead to costs and delays.
What makes Iconic different?
We all come from different backgrounds which makes a stronger collective experience. We have all served some time as the client, and we are focused on what the client’s objectives are. Equally, we have also served time as a contractor, or as the contractor or professional services project manager. So, we have a range of perspectives, and together with our company ethos and culture, we pride ourselves on always approaching and managing projects the right way.
The perspective we bring is a balanced one, bringing together the clients and contractor’s motivations and finding out what is driving them to complete the project. Added to that is the fair and reasonableness, which runs through the heart of the company: transacting in as transparent a way as possible, with our aims and objectives clearly articulated. It is important to be clear and understand what it is that we are we trying to secure for all parties so that everybody walks away feeling like they had their objectives met within the project.