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During the last 10 years, technology has provided many solutions and also added complexity to the role of project managers in AEC firms. With advancements in design software, project management tools, and reporting, project managers are now tasked with an increasingly complex workload. Have these advancements changed delivery of design services? With a stronger focus on the bottom line and fierce competition, internal project management methodologies and practices warrant a closer look.

Whether you work for an engineering, architecture, interior design, or environmental consulting firm, delivering projects is what you do for a living. You cannot underestimate the value of this component of your business because, at its core, this is your business. And proper project management is the vehicle that drives the delivery of your products and services.

However today, project managers are not just delivering quality projects with technical know-how, innovative solutions, meticulous dollar tracking, and the clients’ best interests in mind. They also are charged with managing all the ancillary components of project completion and delivery. This is why project management is a skillset that industry professionals will always be learning — no matter how long they’ve been practicing.

Even if economic circumstances did not influence dramatic changes in the way projects are managed, it is still worthwhile to compare, validate, and improve practices and policies year after year. In most firms, there are multiple layers to this equation — the principal-in-charge, the project manager, and the support team — all of whom provide varying perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of a particular instance. Who is right? What’s the next step?

Zweig Group’s 2017 Project Management Survey presents an in-depth look at the responses of more than 100 project managers and firm leaders in the industry. What are they doing to optimize project delivery systems and team structure and to develop future leaders? Many organizations identify client expectations, inexperienced teams, and budget monitoring as the top ongoing challenges they face. All projects have delays, but survey participants acknowledge what they need to do to mitigate these impacts and offer their opinions for others to examine.

Many design and technical professionals aspire to become project managers. It’s a rewarding role to take on and firm leaders want to provide this opportunity to those with potential. But what sort of qualifications should a good project manager have? How many years of experience? What kind of training? Understand that if you want to serve as a project manager, or if you want to give this opportunity to an eager professional in your firm, there are responsibilities and expectations required of both of you.

The 2017 Project Management Survey of AEP & Environmental Consulting Firms is available for purchase (print or digital version) at https://zweiggroup.com

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