Perhaps the worst way to interact with a new client with plans for numerous projects is to be late in responding, communicating, or even submitting the completed project on deadline. As the manager of an architecture or engineering firm, it's your job to keep the deadline in sight. If you're struggling to complete projects on time, these project management tips and tricks can get you back on track.
#1: Ensure your deadline is sensible Don't over-promise. If you know a design project will take 400 man-hours to complete, don't promise to turn it around before it is reasonable to schedule these hours into your workflow. It's better to deliver early and impress the client than to overwork your employees and deliver an inferior project.
#2: Create a staggered schedule Don't place one date on the calendar as the "due" date and assume everything will fall into line. Instead, create a staggered set of deadlines leading up to the final date the client can expect the project to be completed. This keeps the project on time.
#3: Establish review dates in between your scheduled completion dates Review the project in between completion dates in your schedule. Maintaining a constant overseeing eye can give your team the confidence needed to know they are on track.
#4: Create a comprehensive list of tasks How can you know where the project stands if you don't know what needs to be done? In architecture or engineering projects, the ultimate goal is to submit a completed product. However, to achieve this, it's necessary to complete dozens of tasks along the way. A list ensures everything necessary is done on time.
#5: Be clear on changes to the plan As project manager, it's your job to keep the client happy by adhering to changes and making updates throughout the project. Build-in this extra time whenever possible. And, ensure that your contract states clearly that changes to the project specs will alter the timeline.
#6: Keep individuals accountable Assign specific tasks to individuals. Then, maintain outstanding communication with these individuals to ensure they understand the tasks and the timeline. Hold them accountable for delays.
#7: Address problems or signs of trouble immediately The longer you wait to contact the client for clarification or talk to the marketing team about discrepancies, the less time you leave for your team to complete the project. Even within your team, notice, address and resolve all conflicts or other problems as they arise to prevent them from causing delays.
#8: Track time throughout the project No matter if your architecture firm has two people or your engineering office is made up of ten teams of ten people, it's essential to track all time spent on a project. Even if the project is not paid hourly, which most are not, tracking time helps you accomplish goals and ensures you can properly budget time going forward on this project and others.
#9: Manage the project's ever-changing dynamics Be a proactive, in-the-know manager. That means overseeing the project from start to finish and incorporating changes over time. Instead of bogging yourself down with ten tasks to handle that keep you focused at your desk, delegate those tasks to others. Manage your floor by floating from team to team to oversee each area.
#10: Use software to manage every project Even the most well designed and laid out project can benefit from the use of project management software. Track everything here including the time you've spent on it, who is working on what, and even your invoicing and contracts. This reduces the risk of errors and allows for deadlines to be easily within reach. BaseBuilders.com is online project management software that can improve the success of any project. Deadlines matter, but with tools specifically designed for your architecture or engineering business, you will worry less and accomplish more.