The Construction Veteran Podcast

The Intricate Balance of Power in Construction

July 16, 2023 The Construction Veteran Episode 17
The Construction Veteran Podcast
The Intricate Balance of Power in Construction
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Show Notes Transcript

Ever wondered about the intricate dance between project managers and superintendents in the construction industry? Brace yourselves as your host, Scott Friend, delves into the nitty-gritty, sharing personal anecdotes from his time as a project manager in El Paso, Texas. He unpacks the complexities of these essential roles, shedding light on the unique challenges and the crucial responsibilities that come with managing construction projects. Experience a captivating journey that takes you from the bidding stage to project completion, unraveling the fascinating dynamics between the field and the office along the way.

Learn from Scott, as he candidly addresses power struggles and emphasizes the importance of a harmonious environment between these two pivotal roles. He highlights the significance of understanding the project in detail, from interpreting the fine print in contracts to handling sudden schedule changes. A testament to the value of mentorship, Scott stresses the responsibility seasoned professionals carry to educate the next generation. Whether you're a project manager, a superintendent, or just interested in the construction sector, this episode promises valuable insights. So, pull up a chair and join Scott, and remember to leave your review on your favorite podcast platform!

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Speaker 1:

Welcome back to the Construction Veteran Podcast. I'm your host, scott Friend, the episode that all you office folks have been waiting for. We're going to talk about construction and project management Music. Now. A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away known as El Paso, texas, I was a project manager at one point. I'm so glad that I got that opportunity to learn that side of the industry because I think it made me a better superintendent. I knew what these PMs were dealing with and when they have a guy like me that's hounding them all the time for product, I understand it can stress you out a little bit.

Speaker 1:

The project managers are what are commonly referred to as the office side of the project, where you have the superintendent in the field making sure everything is running smoothly. The project manager, unless it's a very large job, is typically not on that project 100% of the time. Now, the disadvantage is they have a lot of projects they're running at once. However, they don't have to be as in tune with a lot of the details like the superintendent does. Now they do know a lot about their projects. Sometimes there are still companies today that will go out, find the job and take it through completion, whereas most of us have estimators that find the job, they turn it over to the operations team, which is the project manager and the superintendent, and then that team closes it out. However, a lot of companies still have project managers bid their own smaller jobs, so that project manager knows a lot more about it before the superintendent even steps on. They can help their superintendent counterpart by giving them a heads up about things that they found that the superintendent might not have been exposed to yet because it's buried in the detail somewhere. Now, yes, I'll admit, sometimes there's a power struggle between the field and the office. Everybody wants it to be their project. If that's happening with your team kind of you that is a good thing, but you might want to teach them how to have that conflict more healthy. I'll be the first to admit I get touchy when people try to take over some things on my project. However, I'm learning to be a better delegator. But the superintendent does not delegate to the project manager and the project manager does not delegate to the superintendent. They're a team.

Speaker 1:

Now the progression through the ranks as a project manager can be completely different, again, depending on what type of company that you're working for. You're likely to start out as something like a project engineer. An office engineer move into an assistant project manager position, project manager, senior project manager, maybe a project executive and so on and so forth. So this is typically what's known as like the office route or the admin route. Now when you get above, like a senior project level position, into the executive type of role, you're going to be dealing with more things like P&L statements. A project management is just that.

Speaker 1:

Just like the superintendent really needs to wrap their arms around the project in the field, the PM does the same exact thing. They might not be physically in the field, however, them and the superintendent own that job until it is fully closed out and warranties over. Now you probably thought I forgot what's the biggest thing that the PM deals with the money. So they're dealing with things like the pay applications. Those are things that they submit every month to basically say here's how much we've completed, so here's how much you owe us. They're also dealing with change orders throughout the project and that's when something happens on the job that maybe it was unforeseen or there was extra work requested. So they're taking that to the client and saying, hey, it's going to cost X amount and here's why they also help the superintendent with overseeing things like schedule. Maybe the schedule had a change, maybe the end date changed. The project manager and superintendent are going to work together to make sure that they can convey the information as to why.

Speaker 1:

Another thing that the PM helps with is letting the superintendent know what's included in the contract for the trade contractors. The last thing we want to do in the field is tell a contractor to do something that wasn't in their scope of work and now they're basically wasting their money to do what they thought was in the contract. But the project manager should know the contract thoroughly, so it's always safe to ask Another thing and, just like a superintendent, the project manager is there to raise that next group of folks that are going to take their spot. So at the project manager or superintendent position, this is usually a fairly seasoned individual that has been through some projects and now they can pass that knowledge on to the next generation.

Speaker 1:

I will say and I know I'm going to curse myself later for saying this, but project managers really do hold it all together. I mean, quite honestly, I had to lean on the PMs a lot to help me get product to the site or to help me keep some things in line, whether it be with a client or maybe with a trade. I'm their eyes and ears out in the field to make sure that they get information to make the right call. So, guys, thanks again for your time. I really appreciate it. I would love it if you would subscribe to the YouTube, give me some comments on YouTube or give me five stars on Spotify or get your podcast. Thanks a lot.