Let project managers do the talking

Press Release: September 26, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (September 26, 2011) – Attracting new business is a serious task, and who would be better for the job at architecture, engineering, planning and environmental consulting firms than those who interact with clients on a daily basis – project managers! 

ZweigWhite’s 2011 Project Management Survey reveals the most common marketing responsibility for project managers is proposal preparation (63 percent).  In relation to other staff members, project managers are some of the most likely people to make a visit to a prospective client at 60 percent, but many industry leaders feel this number should be higher.

In a Sept. 26 issue of The Zweig Letter, ZweigWhite’s weekly management publication, experts and firm leaders gave their opinion on the survey results. 

Ernest Burden, principal of AEC Advisors, Inc. (www.aecadvisors.com) and author of Successful Project Management in the A/E/P and Environmental Consulting Firm, released in July by ZweigWhite, says there is overwhelming evidence that clients would prefer not to hear from partners and principals-in-charge; they want to hear from the project managers.

“A principal-in-charge will show up on occasion, while the project manager is there every single day doing work in the field,” he said. “The PM is the person the client will be closest to throughout the entire job. I say that because a friend has videotaped some 600 presentations, and there is overwhelming evidence that clients want to see the PM. What is reflected in the survey is what’s happening, but it’s not what should happen.”

PMs and marketing departments working together can be a winning combination, Burden says. He feels one of the most important aspects of effective project management is this coordination. 

“Marketing and project delivery are what you’re selling. The PM is involved and knows clients. After the handoff from marketing, clients don’t want to see marketing anymore,” he says. “That doesn’t mean marketing people should disappear; they have to watch over what the project manager is doing to ensure, to the end, the client is getting what they were promised. Marketing people make the promises, and the PM carries them out.”

When it comes to whether PMs should have permanent teams assigned to them, opinions differ. Sam Liao, senior project manager at Parsons Brinckerhoff, a New York-based architecture and engineering firm, feels teams should remain flexible.

“Each project team member is like a free agent, with a different skill set. Not every project requires the same skill set, unless you’re an architect designing residential homes, for instance, where you’re doing the same thing day in and day out,” he said.

For more information about the ZweigWhite 2011 Project Management Survey, please visit www.zweigwhite.com.

Press Contact:
Christina Zweig

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