PM Tips - Being Proactive

This will be a series of project management tips that I have learned over my 30 plus years of doing industrial project management. You will not find these tips out there in the PM world. The intent is to help keep you out of trouble as it is much easier to get into trouble than it is to get out. These are just an example of some of the tips that I provide in my PM workshops.

The first tip I want to talk about is to treat all your projects as if they will end up in a legal court case. This applies to contractors and vendors. When you first start a project everyone is excited and happy as this will be the best project ever. You have a working relation ship with your contractor(s) and the process starts smoothly. However, it doesn’t take much for the project to turn sour and animosity set in. Not all projects turn out this way, but you can not predict the future so you have to be prepared.

It doesn’t have to be you that turns the tide, it could be anyone associated with the project that sets the project awry. I’ve had construction managers, trying to make a name for themselves, pick a fight with my contractors. In that case it became a paperwork war. In another case, we were partners with a construction company on an engineer, procure, construct (EPC) contract. Management had developed the contract and scope of work with the contractor, however it was so poorly defined there was a steady stream of requests from the contractor for extra money. This one got so bad that we did end up in court with all project members having to go through the discovery process.

It’s not just contractor’s you have to be aware of, vendors can have problems as well. If the equipment doesn’t work as specified or there is a catastrophic failure the lawyers get involved. The thing is, the chance of a court case is a risk issue and you are not in charge of the risk event happening.

To protect your self, you have to be proactive. If your company has procedures in place, follow them. Taking shortcuts could land you in trouble. Keep good notes about what transpires. Your notes should be written in such a way that three (3) months later you are able to understand what you wrote. I know this sounds time consuming and it is, but if you don’t want to end up on the loosing end of a lawsuit, it has to be done.

Morley Selver, P.Eng
The Project Doctor


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Project Management Association of Canada

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