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Project Manager: a constantly evolving figure

In over 30 years of history STI Engineering has certainly taken an active part in the evolution of the concept of Project Management,

Project Management in a nutshell 

By Project Management we usually mean the set of activities, typically performed by one or more dedicated specialized figures called Project Managers, aimed at analysing, planning, and monitoring the objectives of a Project, taking care of all its characteristics and evolutionary phases, in compliance with specific constraints.
By Project we do not refer exclusively to the realization of one or more works, but we could mean, in a broad sense, “the set of information, actions, times, resources, roles and result expectations previously identified, analysed and organized in specific phases, aimed at the pursuit of a predefined purpose, be it a specific work, product, service or result "
In modern times, Project Management has extended to various fields of application: not only in the construction sector, but also in industrial engineering and, more recently, in the development of software. Finally, in recent years, we have been experiencing a further evolutionary phase of Project Management, due to the ever-greater centrality and cruciality of data.
In over 30 years of history and with a multidisciplinary experience in projects of various complexity degrees in different sectors, STI Engineering has certainly taken an active part in the evolution of the concept of Project Management, working in many countries around the world for major operators in the civil, industrial, energy & chemicals, and naval sectors.

Who is a Project Manager (and who isn’t)

As we know, project management is entrusted to a Project Manager (or more than one, with a Leader coordinating them, in case of large-scale projects). Regardless of the project field, we have been experiencing that a capable Project manager is the one who is able to interpret the real project objectives from its beginning to the end, making sure that the client’s vision is turned into reality according to their expectations in terms of expected time and costs.
In practical terms, we would like to underline once again that his/her tasks do not fall only in the operational sphere, driven by methodologies, tools and working techniques to best achieve the objectives of the project (hard skills), but the relational sphere, focused on interpersonal and communication dynamics (soft skills), is equally important.
The role of the Project Manager does not necessarily require a deep knowledge of the technical details of the project he/she is responsible for, but rather excellent organizational and methodological skills, and the technical skills useful for an effective organization of resources (leadership, problem solving, ...)
A Project Manager is not a designer. He is responsible for the project, meaning the person in charge for guiding the project team, which will include designers. He/she will make use of a Technical Project Coordinator to supervise the project activities and will possibly be supported by a Project Management Team including other specialists dedicated to specific activities: Planner, Planner, BIM Manager, CDE Manager, and so on.

STI Engineering’s Project Manager

According to our experience, in the last decade in particular, the figure of the Project Manager has rapidly evolved, since, regardless of the type of work, sector, service or customer, he/she is in charge of increasingly complex dynamics involving a growing number of stakeholders with ever-faster timescales.
To manage our projects, we use state-of-the-art and constantly evolving methodologies and technologies, which we think are essential to facilitate the Project Manager and at the same time allow us to offer a quality service.

WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)
To ensure the project completeness, before starting the design activities the Project Manager defines a Deliverables List, broken down by discipline and structured according to the concept of the WBS: a hierarchical analytical structure going into increasing detail, describing the workflows, and in which the lowest level of detail coincides with the deliverables, which in turn will be further detailed in terms of activities needed to produce them. Hence the name “Work Package” for this last level detail. The deliverables List may be integrated during the development of the assignment in order to make the design of each discipline, at each design phase, complete and exhaustive for the purposes of future phases.
Time Control
The Project Manager is in charge for time control and, with the support of a Planner, he/she draws up the schedules necessary to coordinate and plan all the design activities. In the initial stages a detailed work program will be produced to identify the project milestones, the various activities, and the parties responsible for completing each activity based on the work program agreed upon with the Client. The work program offers a comprehensive overview of the project and will be evaluated and updated periodically at the beginning of each phase.
Design Control and BIM
As to Design Control, the Project Manager is responsible for the implementation of the output control procedures, which will include the following phases:

  • Design review, performed by the Project Coordinator and the Leaders of the Design Group;

  • Design verification, performed by every single designer based on the procedures provided and prior to the issue of the BIM Models;

  • Design verification with the Client, through a technical review coordinated by the Project Manager

With the help of a BIM Manager, responsible for the implementation of BIM processes, strategies and requirements over the design process, a BIM Coordinator and a team of BIM Specialists, BIM Models are created, managed and constantly updated.
The Technical Review itself is carried out by navigating the models in immersive reality also and above all in the presence of the Client far and wide inside a Virtual Construction Site.
BIM allows the efficient management of the project data during and even after its construction over the entire life cycle of the project, offering significant benefits in terms of time and costs to all the stakeholders.
CDE (Common Data Environment)
The effective management of project data and documents is becoming increasingly important.
At STI Engineering document management is carried out via CDE (Common Data Environment), the digital environment for the collection and management of data and project files and their processing, sharing, disclosure to third parties, and final archiving.
The official project documentation and the various deliveries are performed through CDE according to agreed procedures, in order to avoid data loss during the various design stages and to guarantee control, thanks to the information tracking system. This system also makes it possible to manage the flow of design approvals, which will take place after review and control of the project.
Finally, all official communications between the Client and the Project Team are transmitted through the sharing platform, which of course can be customized based on the project needs and the Client’s requests, ensuring the highest security standards for data confidentiality and accessibility.
Quality Control
Last but not least for STI Engineering is quality control: the Project Manager is responsible for the application of quality procedures, verifying that all project management and documentation comply with the regulations and expected standards, as well as for communication, ensuring an optimal information flow both within the team and towards the Client, and finally for the project reporting and progress, to ensure correct measurement of the design progress.
All in all, we could compare the Project manager to an Orchestra Conductor: a trained and experienced professional who directs and coordinates all the involved elements for the perfect execution of the composition.
His/her cleverness lies precisely in the wise management of the various key elements, the technical leaders at the helm of the different design teams, coordinating and pooling the contribution of each component of the workgroup as an essential condition for the success of the project.
Thanks to: Valentina Guagenti
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