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The World of Project Management: Juggling Many Responsibilities

A butterfly flaps its wings and the weather changes on the other side of the world.

Project managers may not have wings, but even their tiniest decision has an impact on every element of their objectives. For years, project managers have concentrated on balancing budget, scope, and timeline. 

Projects, nowadays, cannot be carried without as much care given to mitigation of occupational safety & environmental impacts, quality assurance, and resources management, which often come from external contractors. It makes a lot of balls to juggle, and of course, if one ball is dropped, the juggler’s rhythm is thrown off and the rest will likely follow.

Working with external contractors undoubtly adds a layer of complexity. Even when a project manager identifies the potential risks, quality standards, and required resources related to outsourced work, there are several hidden implications of bringing in external workers.

 

Have you correctly identified your project’s health and safety risks?

If you and your contractors understand all risks associated with the work, you’re off to a good start. But you still need to ensure they’re correctly trained and qualified to access your site. It’s also important to take into account that your contractors could be entering your site for the first time and are unfamiliar with the work environment.

And then, there are blind spots - potential risks that your contractor may be aware of but that you have not identified. Likewise, there may be hidden areas of risk not apparent to your externally hired worker. If you and your contractor are not on the same page about the project’s level of risk, your scope, budget, quality, and allocated resources will all be impacted. It’s also an indicator that your training program may need updates. Now you will have to reassess the necessary qualifications and training to complete the job, and it’s back to square one.

 

Is the necessary documentation easily accessible to both you and your contractors?

You’ve identified all of the project’s health and safety risks, but you also need to have the correct policies, permits, guidelines, and contingency plans in place to ensure your organization is performing due diligence by following national and local rules.

It’s more than just collecting all of the right documentation - you also need to make it available to employees and contractors working on the project. Even when it’s easily accessible, how can you be certain your outsourced workers are actually reading the material and following protocol? And what do you do when rules or training need to be updated?

With all these considerations, project complexity exponentially increases when each factor affects another.

 

Do you have a centralized system to manage outsourced work?

We’ve identified the various considerations a project manager must be aware of when planning and completing a project. Budget, time, scope, resources, risk, and quality must be considered both individually and as greater than the sum of their parts.

Many organizations have separate tools to handle these components - budget trackers, time management logs, excel sheets to track contractor qualification, and so on. Often, different employees handle these elements in silos separate from the rest of the organization. But if we know that each factor causes a ripple effect on the entire project, how can we make sure that we’re meeting the primary goals of the work while staying on track along each step of the process?

Read more: Contractor Management: The next big thing is work management

The answer is in a dedicated, centralized management solution for employee and contractor compliance. Project managers can benefit from this type of platform in the following ways:

  • Manage and monitor contractor qualification and training
  • Assign contractors to work based on their compliance to specific tasks
  • Communicate health and safety documentation and training updates to contractors and employees
  • Verify contractors are correctly billing, taking into account actual time spent working and whether they are an apprentice or journeyman in their trade
  • Onboard new contractors and ensure they are qualified to work for your organization

By using a dedicated compliance management solution, Project managers can holistically address each responsibility in one location.

Likewise, a centralized hub saves time and reduces fragmentation by being able to assign contractors based on skill and training for the individual task. If outsourced workers or employees need to be updated on new protocols or safety guidelines to complete the project, a compliance management solution will ensure they’ve completed the necessary training before allowing them onsite. Using a centralized contractor management solution can also dramatically reduce time when managing contractors and improve operational processes.

No system will fully harmonize every aspect of project management, but it can dramatically reduce the chaos and ripple effect that each decision has on the big picture.

We may not see the weather change when a butterfly flaps its wings, but a holistic approach can anticipate, predict, and plan for seemingly minor actions that have huge impacts on projects.

 

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