O P I N I O N
Measure what matters
T he AEC business is often a relationship business. Yet, most popular project management approaches fail to address relationships as core drivers of AEC project value. Why is that? There is a disconnect between the training and skills that firms want and need for their project managers and what they provide.
Not long ago, Zweig Group surveyed project managers and firms across the country about project management. The questions ranged from addressing the level of responsibility, project management structure, project management policies, and other topics related to project management in modern AEC firms. Zweig Group also asked firms, “What do you think are your firm’s biggest training needs for project managers?” Interestingly, as seen in Figure 1 on the next page, many of the responses coalesced around interpersonal skills and relationship building. In this same survey, Zweig Group asked firms what training they provide to project managers. As seen in Figure 2 on the next page, the responses swung the other way toward measurables. A disconnect exists between the training and skills that firms want and need for their project managers and what they provide to project managers. While detailing a complex steel connection, a mentor once told me: “Difficult to draw, difficult to build.” We
can draw some parallels in project management: “Difficult to measure, difficult to teach. Difficult to teach, difficult to do.” Firms often focus large amounts of time and effort on managing scope, schedule, and resources. These key performance indicators assess project health and provide a basis for employee development and performance management. These are relatively simple elements to measure. Therefore, these elements are simple to teach, and progress in these domains is simple to evaluate. Firms often have good internal tools to execute these items. However, the focus on measurables can cause project managers to neglect relationships. I contend that firms are not measuring relationship value as intentionally as other project metrics, which causes project relationships to only get passive attention. How can we fix that? Enter the client key performance indicator. The first step to reorienting your project management
Justin Smith, P.E.
See JUSTIN SMITH, page 10
THE ZWEIG LETTER MAY 9, 2022, ISSUE 1440
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