13 Ways to Become a Better Project Manager

No matter how many projects you’re juggling, one thing is clear, all of the weight of potential success for your business is on your shoulders. You know your team has the experience and skill. It’s up to you to lead them from the initial proposal to project completion. To do that, you need to be the best project manager possible. Incorporate these tips to become a better project manager at your firm.

#1: Realize your can’t do it all yourself

A project manager’s job is to oversee, not to be doing all the work him or herself. To deliver the very best product to your client, you need to ensure you are leading. Don’t assume you can do it better. Whether it’s in the actual drawings or in scheduling meetings, allow your team to work for you and through you to get the job done. Delegate.

#2: Ask questions and listen

Don’t just go through the motions of completing a project even if you fully believe you understand the scope of it. Rather, show your team and your client that you care about their complete satisfaction by asking questions. By involving many people in the consultations and meetings, you present an opportunity to not only clarify key points, but also to build rapport within your team. Remember to listen – you just might learn something.

#3: Create priorities for each project

A key component of success is not just meeting the clients’ goals, but exceeding their expectations. To achieve this, create priorities and goals for each project. Inform and direct each of your team members towards accomplishing these tasks. If you don’t know where the goal is, how can you excel?

#4: Maintain a natural authority

Skilled project managers don’t have to lay down the rules or borrow the power of another manager or business owner. Rather, they are leaders who show their skill by leading – a skill that comes from commanding a natural authority.

#5: Reassure your team that they can do it

Let’s face it – getting bogged down in a project with endless complications can easily sour any deal and create difficulties within your team. The best way to overcome this is through reassuring your team that they can do it. Being the cheerleader from the sidelines doesn’t always mean having the answers, but rather encouraging the team to find them.

#6: Be thorough

To really command success, ensure you’ve thought about the details. Take your time in creating a plan that’s as thorough as possible.

#7: Share your vision

It’s also important to give direction as a project manager. You can’t just lead them to success. It’s important to show them what your vision really is.

#8: Always respect each member of your team

Respect their opinions, needs, ideas, and concerns. Respect isn’t an option for a project manager. It’s often a defining determinant of either successful relationships or disgruntled employees.

#9: Communicate regularly

Set up tools and resources to allow you to communicate on each project with your team seamlessly. That’s critical. You’ll want to check in each day or every few hours, as needed.

#10: Say what you really mean

People make mistakes, have bad ideas or just plain don’t do what they should. As the manager of the project, its success depends on your ability to correct these mistakes, inform them of the proper solutions and to overcome communication barriers. Don’t belittle, turn it into a learning experience.

#11: Do what you say you will

If you promise a client a set progress plans by noon, get them there. If you tell your team, they are off at 5 for the day, don’t call afterward – it can wait until tomorrow. Do what you say you will do.

#12: Be available

Both to the client and to your staff, it’s important to be available. Listen, guide, and most importantly, keep them on track.

#13: Be organized

A key part of your success when balancing numerous projects is having the means and ability to remain organized. That’s not always easy to do, but it is something that you should aim for on every detail.

The right software and tools can help you to remain successful. As an architect or engineer, it’s up to you to use project management software that can ensure each detail is always at the forefront of the project.

Average net profit for 2015

Scrolling through PSMJ’s website I found an article about A/E Profit Margins and how these margins have been on the rise for the three consecutive years. 2014 saw average profits of 14.3%, the highest they have been in six years. 

While this is good news, I don’t get too excited about a 14.3% net profit and prefer to see profits in the upper teens or low to mid 20’s. Remember that this is the average of firms and the average is simply “the best of the worst and the worst of the best”.

Founder and CEO of PSMJ Resources Frank A. Stasiowski, FAIA, also believes that the 14.3% shouldn’t “…be an acceptable profit margin at all for an A/E firm,” “There are plenty of A/E firms that can and do deliver profit margins far higher than this.” 

So does your firm measure up?  How are you performing compared to the rest of the world? Do you want to reach higher profit margins? Of course you do. 

Now I can’t promise that you will make higher profits, but I can tell let you in on a little secret that will help your business run more efficiently ~ our software.

Our business and project management software offers you everything you need to run a successful AE firm more effectively and efficiently.  With the help of our solution your firm can stay organized and on task with every project that comes through your office. 

Key’s to a Successful 2015

2015 is here and so are New Year’s resolutions. There are the typical lose weight, save money and volunteer more, but what about for your business? Have you set any initiatives for your business for the new year?

I was scrolling through the Zweig Group’s blog and came across “Keys to success in 2015”.

Setting goals for your firm is a great way to have a successful year for your firm.

In the “Keys to success in 2015”, some of the “keys” I will be mentioning are some I think are important for any business.


Not having any can lead to “misunderstandings”. Having good communication with everyone involved in your business can eliminate problems and lead to a thriving business.

Having Purpose.

Employees should have the purpose to create quality work they are proud of. Having a purpose can lead to an overall positive effect on individual motivation.

Working Together.

In the A/E field, working together is a big part to success. By not having a “solo performer” and having “team players” projects can get done more efficiently and your business can run more smoothly.

Of course there are more factors to running a prosperous business, but these three really jumped out at me. Running any type of business is not just about making money, its important but being proud of your work as well as helping others is really what matters at the end of the day.

With running a successful business, working together, communication, and having purpose are important factors; however having a “well oil machine” requires everyone in the office to be organized. Meaning, keeping track of money, time, and schedules is how your firm will run smoothly, and having software to make keeping track of necessary things is always a must.

With Praesto AE, keeping track of when things are do, who is doing them,how much is spent, and have we been profitable is easy.

Praesto AE allows you to keep track of everything from money; contacts, and building materials to ensure your business can run more efficiently and effectively.



Happy New Year!

A Day in Winnipeg

From the desk of Doug Rawson, PE – founder of Base Builders.

I recently spoke at the 2014 Festival of Architecture in Winnipeg, Canada. This annual conference is put on by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. My session was all about business and practice management ideas.

Principals for managing a business cross all borders whether is it in Canada or the US, because the basic principles are the same.  Businesses have to run an effect and efficient operation if they are going to make profits. Which are key to running a successful and long-lasting business.

The audience in Canada was awesome; we had a large group of enthusiastic architects all looking to enhance their revenues and increase profits. We covered company profits, cash flow, and techniques for improving both. Overall I believe it was very well received and I am hoping that those who attended will go back and improve their operations at their offices and hopefully will be in business for a long time.

One of the keys to running a great business is measuring the success on your projects and comparing projects against each other. You need to analyze how and where you are making the most money. Do you do better with a certain type of project or perhaps a particular client type? To do this analysis many firms duck tape a bunch of spreadsheets together. What we do at Base Builders is take all the information that you need, and put it into a database software solution so that it does the analyzing for you. Our solution, Praesto AE, empowers you with the information you need to make the right business decisions.