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Good Management

Let me tell you a story.

When I moved to Spain and started my construction company there, one of the things I did was to use local tradesmen as well as expats. I figured that local people would know the practices and principles of using the local materials and methods better than an outsider. I also figured I could learm from them myself.

Now I am a big fan of all things Spanish, including their work ethic. I can absolutely refute any suggestion that they are lazy or workshy and in fact I have nothing but admiration for their energy and adaptability. Nothing is too much trouble or effort and they work as hard as any people I have met. If I had any criticism, it is that very often they were poorly trained and therefore sometimes lacking in skills.

However there was one particular practice that i could and still do not understand. My trade is bricklaying and no matter what I have done in life, that skill, learned at an early age, will never leave me. I still enjoy getting the tools our and building things. One of the fundamental things you learn as a brickie, is how to set out the work before you start, so you know where the DPC goes, what the floor levels are, where to create the openings for the doors and windows so the lintels go in at the right height, and where to finish so the carpenter can put the roof on at the correct height. All those things are determined before a single brick is laid.

Not in Spain! There the bricklayers would arrive on site and start laying blocks. No idea at what height the lintels went, no idea what the floor levels were and no idea where the roof went. So the result was that openings had to be adapted, walls cut down, walls levelled up with a layer of concrete, holes chopped out to accommodate services etc. A whole lot of extra work that could have been avoided.

So what has that to do with project management? Well nothing really, except it demonstrates the need for proper planning and organisation, prior to starting work.

Good management starts well before any work starts. In fact if you dont start the management process until work has commenced, you will have missed the best opportunity to make the project a success. You will spend your time firefighting, not managing, as you attempt to sort out the things that have gone wrong before you even realised they were happening.

The thing is, as soon as work commences, if the proper management has not been done, it is like starting a journey before you have decided where to go. Which means that it is highly probable that you ( or the builder ) will head off in the wrong direction and then have to turn round and make up lost ground. And guess who will have to pay for it?

More later.

The Project Master