As a dedicated specialist in project management of residential renovations, Christina Marckx of QCL Projects explains the components of successful project execution and how to avoid the common pitfalls when undertaking the challenge of a renovation project.
Effective project management is vital to ensuring the success of any renovation project. Whilst every project is different, the core principles of a well-run project are always the same.
PROJECT PLANNING This is often the most overlooked and rushed element, leading to poor implementation and delivery of many projects. The likelihood of technical mistakes, unexpected delays and unforeseen problems later on in the project lifespan, can be significantly reduced by setting aside sufficient time during the early planning stage. Once the decision is taken to initiate a renovation, work on the project plan begins. This is the time to get the scope well defined by identifying a clear overall vision for the project and the desired outcome. The use of critical path and project programming software can be particularly useful tools during this phase.
IRON TRIANGLEThe understanding of the so-called “iron triangle” is a significant part of developing an effective project plan. This triangle represents the scope (quality), budget (cost) and work schedule (timing) and should be carefully assembled. As all projects entail a level of uncertainty and therefore carry risk, these elements of quality, cost and time must be carefully evaluated by project managers at the start of the project and monitored throughout. Preferences for flexibility should be ascertained early on, so that in the event that an unexpected problem arises, a decision can be taken as to whether a partial sacrifice of quality, cost or timing is required to resolve it.
BUILDING A TEAMA fundamental element of all projects is the team – the people involved in sharing their knowledge and expertise to achieve the overall goal. The Project Manager is the person with the main responsibility for building this team. Getting the right specialist knowledge, skills and experience is crucial to reduce the level of risk within a project and thereby enhance its likelihood of success. Bringing members with successful experience in similar projects on board is the key.
DEFINING RESPONSIBILITIES One of the essential roles of the Project Manager is to ensure that all stakeholders in the project fulfill their obligations in a timely manner. Project Managers should advise clients early on of the importance of their own role in the planning and decision making process to ensure that, where their decisions will be required at key stages throughout the project, these are built into the programme.
COMMUNICATIONGood interpersonal skills are a fundamental requirement of the Project Manager, to ensure effective communication with all stakeholders in a project. In residential renovations this will probably include dealing with local authorities to ensure the correct permissions are in place and also with management companies to ensure Estate Rules and Underlease clauses are adhered to. On site, the Project Manager plays a central role in ensuring different trades and professions work to an agreed plan and do not impede each other through misunderstanding or self-interest.
PROJECT EXECUTION AND OVERSIGHTThis is usually the longest phase and involves the fulfillment of all activities and tasks as defined in the Project Plan. This phase is not without risk, however, it will generally progress well provided adequate time has been taken in the planning stage. It is important to make regular site visits to ensure compliance with the agreed plan and catch any mistakes early on when they are easier to correct.
The areas that tend to lead to the least successful project outcomes generally result from a lack of attention to detail in the project planning and team building stage. The most common of these are:Bad construction work and unsympathetic renovations with e.g. unattractive and badly planned new kitchens and bathrooms. Instead of adding value, these can result in a decrease in the value of a property. Appointing the wrong specialists. Taking care to research recommendations of particular firms and going to see projects they have worked on is vital. An unrealistic budget or timetable. It is the job of the Project Manager to effectively ascertain whether either or both of these are not realistic. A knowledge of costings and timings on other similar projects should guide this. Changing the plan and adding on extras during the execution phase. This can significantly affect budget and timescale outcomes. Not taking into account some of the logistical limitations in Gibraltar and planning accordingly.
GETTING IT RIGHT
Attention to detail, the right team, flexibility and adaptability are the key skills to ensuring a successful renovation project from start to completion. Dedication and sufficient time to invest in the project are also vital. With the right approach and where required, engaging specialist help from an experienced Project Management company, such as QCL Projects, a renovation project can be one of the most rewarding projects to undertake.