Springfield, MO

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How to choose a project manager

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by Ann Bucy

SBJ Contributing Writer

According to local construction company owners, the role of a project manager in the construction process is vital. The individual chosen must be efficient, experienced and able to handle just about anything handed him while possessing and utilizing good communication skills.

Morris Dock, owner of Mo Do Co Inc., said it's important for a project manager to have field experience, office experience, the ability to read shop drawings and strong communication skills.

"We look at a resume for experience, among other things, because the project manager is a very key portion of our business," he said, "He or she is a significant part of our circle, the part that makes the project move. Good communication skills are also a necessity because there's a lot of communication between the manager, the estimator and the project superintendents."

Dock describes the project manager as a vital component of his operations because the project manager is the liaison for the company throughout the project, dealing with the owner and the architect on a regular basis.

"A project manager deals with the overall aspects of the job and looks out for the interests of the company," Dock said. "Building a building is the easy part. The rest of it requires much more attention."

"The job of project manager can get pretty complicated," said Paul Dock, president of Dock Brothers Construction. "Along with the initial responsibilities of a job, the manager is responsible for any changes that may come along. They relay all the information to the designer, owner, subcontractors and suppliers. Then, they coordinate it all and make it happen."

Paul Dock added that the role of manager cannot be underestimated. "To a large extent, the success or failure of a project has a lot to do with the project manager. They need to have construction experience, have good organization skills, work well with others and be detail-oriented."

Craig Schneider, a partner in the architectural firm of Esterly, Schneider & Associates, said that as a design professional, he has a slightly different perspective on project managers.

The project manager "is responsible for managing the project while it's under construction. It's a traditional role in construction that's been around a long time. They do the programming: determining the client's needs after having sat down with them, overseeing the construction, the bookkeeping and billing."

The selection of the project manager "has to do with their experience in the type of projects they've worked on; if they're wood construction or more complicated ones like multistory made of concrete or steel," he said.

He recommends companies seeking a project manager look at "their credentials, their background and see if they're dedicated in their field and like what they're doing. It's a good idea for them to have a background in construction and construction management. There are several ways to achieve this background; either with hands-on experience or with a formal education. They also need to know electrical, plumbing, masonry and accounting the whole realm."

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