I have been in this industry for 15 years and during that time, I’ve heard from so many Project Managers who are experienced engineers, but find themselves promoted to managers without much business training. So when I met June Jewell this past September at Zweig’s Hot Firms conference, I saw first-hand how consulting firms responded to her solid tips on how to use financial and systems training, automation and accountability measures to improve profit margins. I was delighted that she accepted my invitation to share her insights on a webinar with us this week, titled Developing Superstar Project Managers.
She opened with her take on the state of the industry today, and I think most would agree with these highlights:
- Long recovery – slower than in the past
- Construction starts up 6% over last year
- Some firms still seeing peaks and valleys
- Many firms hiring
- Huge shortage of mid-level experienced architects and engineers
- Firms “poaching” from each other
- 9 to 12 months backlog for many firms
- Margins still very tight – fees feel “squeezed”
In the context of this business environment, project managers are getting pulled in so many different directions, shouldering a wide range of responsibilities both within the firm and with clients. But what makes for a “superstar” project manager?
Below are her answers to the audience questions that were submitted during our live event:
You mentioned Deltek earlier, but are there any good online, cloud PM solutions for managing project (e.g. – BaseCamp, SmartSheets, etc.)?
June Jewell: I have used BaseCamp and TeamWork and found them useful for project collaboration and planning tasks. I don’t believe they have any benefit for financial management. I would check to see if the financial management program you are using have a project budgeting component. Many of them do but your firm may not have implemented it.
What is the best way to make the jump from lower level to project management?
Jewell: I would suggest increasing your business and financial skills as well as your leadership skills. If your firm is not willing or able to invest in this, you should take it upon yourself to work on self-development so you can increase your long–term career potential.
We don’t like change at my firm. What do you suggest?
Jewell: Individual will usually change if they are clearly able to see the benefit to them personally. Look for ways to show your teams how improving the firm’s performance will help them personally.
As a manager, how can I get my firm focused on profitability?
Jewell: If your firm is not focused on profitability it can be difficult to get them to change. One idea is to give them my book! I have provided a free electronic copy that you can download here. In the book, I show you how to calculate a 1% increase in key metrics. Very often if you show them how much money is at stake they will be more apt to listen and explore.
A list of specific resources for training or addressing the challenges would be helpful.
Jewell: I have developed a complete business management training program for project managers that follows the content of my book, Find the Lost Dollars. You can learn more about it here. Please let me know if you have any questions about it and I would be happy to schedule a call and see if it makes sense for your firm.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- How do you evaluate the challenges that cause many Project Managers to struggle with project profitability?
- What are the financial aspects of project management that Project Managers need to know to be successful?
- How can technology help Project Managers deliver more profitable projects?
- What are some best practices to help Project Managers succeed?
For answers to these questions, listen to a replay of the webinar here.
A pdf of June’s slides from the event are available for download here.
A terrific blog by June on the topic of superstar Project Managers can be found here.
June R. Jewell, is a CPA and President of AEC Business Solutions. She has more than 28 years of business management consulting experience, and unsurpassed knowledge of the AEC industry. In addition to this role, she is the original founder and current strategic advisor of Acuity Business Solutions, a Deltek Premier Partner and consulting firm that works with AEC firms to support business profitability through web-based enterprise management technology.
She is the Amazon best-selling author of the book “Find The Lost Dollars: 6 Steps to Increase Profits in Architecture, Engineering and Environmental Firms.” Jewell has built and run a successful consulting practice, and is a highly sought after speaker at industry events and conferences. Her past speaking engagements include AIA, ACEC, SMPS, Design and Construction Network (DCN), Society for Design Administration (SDA), Zweig Group (formerly ZweigWhite), PSMJ, ROG Growth and Ownership Conference, Project Management Institute (PMI), Deltek Insight and Business of Architecture (BOA).