Tips for Frontline Project Management

This article originally appeared in the July 2022 issue of Security Business Magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business Magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.

Project management is essential to the success of any security project. Without the proper skills, a project could go completely over time and budget – or worse, go completely off the rails.

Only with the best training specific to the security industry can you be sure that your projects will run smoothly. The following project management tips are excerpted from a new front-line project management training course for security and systems integrators, delivered in a hybrid format via SecurityCEU.comin partnership with Nadim Sawaya of Enterprise Performance Consulting (EPC) – more details on this course are provided at the end of this article.

Before diving into advice, it’s essential to understand that organizational culture shapes how people work together in pursuit of common goals. A culture that actively supports and works to improve project management processes is likely to experience growth and success. If you need to change attitudes towards projects, focus on behaviors and actions that can be easily measured.

To increase project success, security and systems integrators must adopt a culture of project management. They must provide the infrastructure, including written procedures and training, to enable the project manager to manage effectively.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), organizations with a projected culture increase their project success factor by an average of 20%. PMI also reports that “high performing organizations achieve their goals 2.5 times more often, and these organizations waste 13 times less money than their low performing counterparts.”

Thus, it turns out that good project management ensures that the goals of the projects align closely with the strategic goals of the business.

10 steps for a successful project

1. Advance planning: Planning is probably the most overlooked – but most important – part of the entire building process. The integrators who participated in the training say they have received many compliments from customers on the responsiveness and professionalism of their project managers. While creating a complete schedule is a big part of planning a project, there’s more to it. It’s your way of making sure you’re not going to run into invisible cost overruns as the job progresses. Good planning limits liability and identifies the client’s fiscal goals, reducing the risk of costly change orders and putting your team and the client on the same page.

2. Conduct a FOral sbeersat-ooperations youurnovate mmeeting : When starting the project, be sure to analyze everything, including timelines, possible risks, site plans, design specifications and more. Make sure the contractor isn’t the only one in the loop. It’s also important to maintain open communication with your team. So make sure that they are also fully aware of these details.

One way to do this is to hold a formal turnover meeting between sales and operations for each project, where the salesperson hands over a project to the project manager. As part of the process, all project information, including verbal instructions, is discussed and a complete project plan is developed.

3. lead a pproject re-estimate: Project managers should review project documents, including the signed contract, statement of work, and project cost estimates. Then, within two weeks of the operations sales meeting, re-estimate the project. This is an important task to ensure that the project has been quoted correctly. Any cost variance should be identified early and a mitigation plan should be developed. This task will also help ensure that the correct material will be ordered and that the job has no hidden cost overruns that will affect the true gross margin of the job.

4. The kkick-off mmeeting : This meeting with the client is essential. The project manager and key project team members should attend the meeting, as well as key client-side personnel. The purpose of this meeting is to define expectations and validate the scope of work. The kick-off meeting is the best opportunity to get your project on track and clarify the scope of the project. Its objectives must be the following: To ensure that the assumptions correspond to the expectations of the clients; ensure that the contractual obligations (signed contract) correspond to the client’s expectations; and review the project in terms of schedule, scope and cost drivers with project stakeholders.

5. The eengineering ssubmission ppack : Construction tenders – also known as engineering tender documents – are documents provided by a contractor to an architect for approval for use. The tender log includes information provided to the architect requesting approval of certain materials and equipment before they are fabricated and sent to the project site. The project manager must ensure that the company has an engineering submission approved by the client before carrying out any work on the project. This practice should be applied to every project, regardless of size or complexity. Treat your security project like any construction project. “Approved for construction” must be stamped on each drawing. The other benefit of having detailed “installation drawings” is to improve the field efficiency of the installation team.

6. Learn the Critical Path Method (CPM): Originally created to estimate the duration of tasks in projects and help late projects get back on track, today CPM is used to identify the most important tasks and ensure that a project is not delayed.

A critical path is a project flow technique where the sequence of dependent tasks that form the longest duration helps you determine the most efficient time frame possible to complete a project. The project manager and the entire project team should have a solid understanding of the concept and planning method of CPM network diagrams. They should all be able to plan project resources after CPM.

The project manager must also know how to communicate to general contractors and other trades affected by project constraints based on critical project activities. Mastery of CPM principles is essential to help negotiate and win construction delay claims.

seven. Lily the Pproject vsovercontract wweekly : Project management is contract management. The project manager should periodically review the terms and conditions of the project contract, particularly with regard to the general conditions (section 1). This will ensure that no work outside the scope of the contract will be performed. General conditions are costs incurred during a project that do not usually involve swinging a hammer or installing something permanently.

Terms and conditions can represent 10% or more of the project cost – depending on the logistics, access and complexity of the project – so they are an important factor in a project’s budget. Understanding how much of the budget goes to terms and conditions and what items are covered will provide a good indication of how the project will generally be run in terms of safety, cleanliness and supervision.

8. Document pproject aactivities and vshangs: Project managers should use a daily logbook to document all relevant project verbal instructions (who said what, when, and why). Project managers should also know how to handle emails in a protective manner by confirming any verbal instructions in writing and promptly responding to important emails, especially those you disagree with. With regard to e-mails, silence in the event of no response constitutes consent.

9. Pursue all change orders: On average, security integrators give more than 10% of the project budget to customers for free. This free work could constitute everything the benefits of the project. Project managers need to know how to identify project changes or scope drift, especially small ones. They should also know how to ask the client for compensation for such changes. As the saying goes: If you don’t ask, you don’t get paid. Project managers need to know how to cover all costs associated with change orders, such as engineering, project management, labor redirection, and warranty extension.

10. Obtain a signed certificate of completion: Closing projects is the biggest challenge for security integrators. You may be 95% complete on the project, the client is using the system in a beneficial way, there are few items left to complete (checklist), and your team is being reassigned to another project. During this time, the customer withholds the final payment and gets a free warranty. In this situation, there is no great pressure from the client to have the project officially closed. It is important to have a strict strategy in place to obtain a signed Certificate of Completion (COC) on each project. The COC is crucial in getting the client to accept project completion, be paid in full, and initiate the project warranty.

Nadim Sawaya is Principal at Enterprise Performance Consulting and Connie Moorhead is CEO of SecurityCEU.com. This article is adapted from SecurityCEU’s Frontline Project Management hybrid training series, consisting of a 10-hour interactive self-paced e-learning course and a 2-hour instructor-led webinar focused on online lesson retention. For more details on the course, the cost of the program and to register, go to: https://catalog.securityceu.com/frontline-project-management.html.