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Why you should engage a professional project manager

February 05, 2019

Much is at stake when it comes to construction projects. Investors, shareholders, and occupiers scrutinize projects in great detail and hold high expectations for their build or fit-out—rightly so, given the significant investment in these projects. The average cost for an office fit-out* is currently USD$125 in Tokyo, USD$90 in Hong Kong, USD$89 in Sydney and USD$63 in Mumbai. Project that over a 5,000 sq ft net office fit-out and you are now dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So who should you engage to deliver your project?

Do you task someone in-house? Would a freelancer deliver you the best result? Could you extend your architect or contractor’s duties to include project management? Or should you engage a professional project manager backed by a regional, multiservice commercial real estate (RE) firm? Your decision is critical to the project outcome. Let’s look at why a professional project manager more than justifies the cost.

Why engage a professional project manager?

For expertise and experience

A professional project manager from a reputable global or regional RE firm can provide recommendations based on thousands of bespoke projects previously delivered. With the right experience and industry knowledge, you can tap and draw insights from previous works and apply them to your relevant sector or industries such as office, retail technology, hospitality, industrial, manufacturing or transport.

For a team of experts

Your project manager should have an established team of trusted experts ready to deliver—people who know the work, understand the project, and will collaborate to achieve your ambition.

“Project needs will vary, but what clients appreciate most is the access to the combined expertise of a project management team—a team of workplace, design, and build consultants—who are engaged and experienced in the region. That’s the win for them,” says Janet Walters, Accounts Team Lead for Project and Development Services, Asia at JLL.

She adds: “Accessing the best engineering, sustainability, facility management, energy efficiency and wellness guidance all within a centralized team expedites decision-making, which means faster project delivery.”

For consistency and quality across multiple locations

Conducting concurrent projects in multiple locations is standard for multinational companies. However, given the diverse countries that Asia Pacific comprises—from the well-developed nations of Australia and Singapore, to the bourgeoning metropolises of China, India and Indonesia—delivering projects in this region presents its own unique challenges.

What you need is a project manager who can navigate these complexities within global reach and provide consistency in project delivery, quality and compliance with local laws and international safety standards.

“Though varying regulatory requirements and building standards may require some localization, consistency in the application of safety standards, and adherence to the highest ethical project delivery are absolutely nonnegotiable,” says Ian Chadsey, Director, Project and Development Services, Asia Pacific at JLL.

“We know how important this is to our multinational companies across the globe and this is exactly where an experienced professional project manager from a strong global RE team can add the greatest value,” he adds.

For smarter procurement outcomes

How can a project manager impact the project cost and the asset’s future management? By making smart procurement decisions. Procuring building materials is one way to gain build quality consistency and scale economies. Making smart and early decisions can also impact ongoing facility operations and management.

All purchase decisions during the construction phase impact how clients manage their assets in the future, particularly if their portfolio is multisite and multinational. From carpets and furniture, to mechanical and electrical infrastructure, a project manager who makes sage procurement decisions early in the process ensures your company long-term benefits.

For peace of mind

Regardless of your risk profile, partnering with a reputable commercial RE firm is advised. It’s all about mitigating risks and protecting you and your organization’s reputation—neither which should be compromised.

By engaging a professional project manager and his or her firm, you automatically employ the rigor required to deliver a safe and compliant project. Knowing your project and your project manager are both backed by stringent safety and compliance standards applied to every person on every site in every country is essential. This provides you the reassurance you need for your management and other stakeholders.

For continuity

A project interrupted means lost time and money. Assigning a dedicated resource for your project can help avoid this scenario by ensuring continuity. A good project manager will provide a clear direction and a mature stakeholder and contractor management. And that’s exactly what your project needs: consistent and informed leadership from concept to completion, not someone who dips in and out when time permits.

Value versus cost

So do the benefits of hiring a professional project manager warrant the expense? We believe so.

It may be tempting to use a dollar-for-dollar basis to compare the different options of tasking someone in-house, extending the duties to an architect, or hiring a professional from a RE firm. However, we caution. While the outsource model may appear more expensive in the shorter-term, not hiring a reputable project manager exposes your company and project to multiple risks as discussed above. And these risks are simply not worth it.

The real value of outsourcing project management extends well beyond the dollar cost. “It’s about expertise, focus and time—these are the greatest gain,” says Walters.

Chadsey adds: “A project manager with resources at hand and access to a global bank of knowledge and industry developments is hard to quantify. Project management is our world. Our people operate and understand local culture and nuances within Asia Pacific. They benefit from best-in-class professional development and training, and deliver to the highest standards required by the client and by our firm—that is the true value we bring to projects.”

* Comparative data assuming a five-month design and construction schedule and based on JLL research, 2017 averages to date. All fees relating to design, cost management and project management are included. Costs exclude furniture, internal blinds, security installations, all insurances, VAT/sales tax, site acquisition, local authority fees, financing charges and marketing costs.

Interested to find out more about Future of Work? Learn more about our outlook on the changing world of work here.

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