Project Management for an Experienced Entrepreneur: The Benefits of Specialized Expertise
As an experienced entrepreneur with several successful projects already underway or completed, there is no real need to tell you how important it is to know -- or to consult and work with people who know -- the specifics of a particular process, product, or industry when engaging in a new venture. Knowledge might not translate directly to power in the way the old adage suggests, but it is an essential component in business success, to be sure. Flexibility, learning and thinking on one's feet, and allowing ideas and conclusions to change in response to new information are also quite important, of course, but these things are all aided by a solid foundational knowledge in areas and elements of interest. As I will attempt to show you here, this is true not only in the realm of specific industries, but when it comes to handling the details and processes of almost any business endeavor.
It is understood that you are seeking project management services due to some negative experiences in two of your recent projects. The ability to launch eight projects with a total value of more than thirty million Euros is impressive, and the fact that only two projects came in late and over budget is definitely a testament to your business acumen. So is your recognition of the fact that that more specialized expertise might have helped you to avoid these problems, decreasing costs and increasing returns, and I am pleased you have contacted our firm to ensure that your upcoming project meets or exceeds all deadlines and goals.
In the following pages, I will detail precisely how the use of professional, knowledgeable, and experienced project management specialists such as myself and others at this firm can help ensure that your projects come in on time and at or under budget. A preliminary contract will also be proposed, in very broad strokes, to give you an idea of the standard working relationship and expectations developed between our firm and its clients. In response to your specific requests for advice, I am happy to provide a description of various procurement procedures and make a recommendation in this regard, including reference to typical contractual elements and safeguards that protect your interests against substandard performance or non-performance on the part of a contractor. From these discussions and analysis, I am confident that you will agree that the use of a practiced project manager can be of great benefit, even to a seasoned and successful entrepreneur such as yourself.
Benefits of Employing an Independent Project Manager
In his extensive description and analysis of project management, Robert K. Wysocki (2008) exhaustively explores the traditional responsibilities of project managers and the degree to which these create benefit and value for their firms and the projects with which they are associated. This has been studied more extensively in project managers that are integrated into larger organizations rather than operating on an independent contract basis, and much of the evidence provided here comes from such studies (Wysocki, 2011). As will be demonstrated, however, these findings are just as applicable in contract situations, if not more so.
The primary and foundational benefit of utilizing a project manager is, as the title of the position implies, the fact that there is a single person in charge of managing -- i.e. monitoring and guiding -- all aspects of the project (Wysocki, 2011). There is an extraordinary benefit to having a single individual and decision-maker that receives and coordinates all information regarding time schedules and budgets, as it ensures that each group, department, contractor, etc. reports to one individual -- i.e. The project manager -- in a highly centralized fashion so that each arm knows what the other is doing, or is at least guided by the actions of the other groups, etc. involved in the project (Wysocki, 2011). By localizing and centralizing all information, more effective and relevant decisions can be made that more efficiently utilize resources and ensure that dependent tasks and processes have their prerequisites or requirements met before they enter their initial phases (Wysocki, 2011).
Project managers are responsible for what I like to think of as the "big picture details" -- that is, they do not focus solely on the overall outcome of a project or on how each of the details of how the project is accomplished, but rather on the manner in which all of these details contribute to the overall outcome. Taking a broad view of the project by identifying each element of the project and understanding how these elements work together to make the project successful is the underlying mechanism of the practice of project management (Wysocki, 2011). A successful project manager knows how to give each group, department or contractor the latitude it needs to complete its task while controlling their pace and resource consumption (Wyscoki, 2011).
You might be wondering why a project manager would be necessary to or beneficial in accomplishing this coordination and management; as a business leader and entrepreneur, you have doubtless handled such things yourself in the past, and with a fair amount of success given your track record. There are tools and knowledge areas specific to trained and experienced project managers that most entrepreneurs are simply unaware of, however, and that -- like business law and certain other specialized areas of knowledge -- take a career to build, and simply cannot be acquired without a more singular focus and dedication of time than is possible for business creators and owners (Wysocki, 2011). Hiring an experienced project manager rather than trying to coordinate all business projects and domains -- marketing, sales, growth, product development, etc. -- provides more close monitoring and control of projects than trying to oversee an entire business ever possibly could.
An independent project manager hired as a contractor for an entrepreneur such as yourself comes with additional benefits. Not only will this enable you to focus on the big picture of running all of your business ventures, but you have the assurance of someone managing at least one of these ventures for you; not simply reporting to you and waiting for decisions, but able to make decisions based on a previous discussion of your goals and expectations. The lack of true integration within your company also gives greater independence to the project manager, which means you will get honest appraisals of your contractors and other project members based on real and objective evidence and long running experience.
Initial Contract Proposal
The contract that will be established between yourself and our organization, should you choose to utilize our services, will follow very straightforward and well-established guidelines for the contracting of such services. First, we will need to establish who is responsible for the initial procurement of services; as this business venture is already at least partially planned by you and is presumably an area in which you have conducted your own preliminary research into suppliers and contractors, it is recommended that initial procurement remain your prerogative, though advising services in rendering the details of contracts would be happily provided (Turner, 2003). Payment authorizations for materials and for any agreed profit schedules for contractors will also need to be made, and a retainer and fee schedule for our own firm's services will also be discussed and included in our initial contract.
Other details of the contract will require further discussion regarding the specifics of your project, however some general areas can be addressed here. Budget and time constraints can be built into the contract to establish specific timelines and resource outlays in order to guarantee the project will be completed given the constraints we establish through our conversations, and penalties should also be built into contracts for specific contractors and suppliers (Turner, 2003). Other elements of the contract can include the level of communication between you and I or other members of this firm, the degree of latitude in decision-making you wish to grant and the firm wishes to take on (Turner, 2003).
Though it is recommended that you remain in charge of initial procurement contracts and in final procurement decisions, our firm is more than happy to provide you with advice and consulting during the procurement process. As a major source of costs for any project -- especially for new business ventures -- procurement is definitely essential in both establishing the initial budget for the project and in ensuring that the contractors and suppliers selected in the procurement phase are competent and reasonable in their estimates and plans for project success (Bower, 2003). When it comes to selecting and implementing a broad procurement strategy, there are many possible methods to choose from. Again, the specific details of your project will need to be known before we can recommended a selection of a closed bidding process, he use of several rounds of negotiations, or simple supplier contact and internal value appraisal; any one of these might be considered appropriate depending…