The Adminstration’s Role in Project Management

By Bob Bremm

Before an institution embarks on a major construction project, the Administration needs to define individual roles in the project management process, and it needs to establish a chain of command.

Projects are complex and typically have tight budgets and tight schedules. An administrator may be involved in only one major project in their lifetime. This makes the construction process unknown, intimidating, and stressful. This is why it is so important to develop an understandable structure with well-defined roles at the very beginning. The more time spent up front in developing this structure and educating the impacted individuals, the less stressful and more effective the process will be.

The roles that must be created, defined, and authorized are:

  • An Owner’s Representative (who will be named in the contract documents)
  • A Project Manager
  • User Groups
  • An Oversight Committee

The Administration needs to understand that a project is a long-term, multiyear commitment. The people that are assigned these roles must be able to put in the time necessary to stay with the project. If a person cannot make this commitment, then someone else should be assigned to this role. As in any administrative assignment, the level of authority should equal the level of responsibility.

The Owner’s Representative

This is the individual who shall be the voice of the institution in contractual matters, and who will be a key decision-maker. Though this person can designate responsibilities to others, the Owner’s Representative is clearly the person recognized by the contract as the being the voice of the Owner. It is important that this person has the availability, accessibility, and knowledge to make decisions. It should be decided early whether or not this person will attend all meetings or just key meetings. Key meetings would be monthly updates, major milestone updates, requisition meetings, steering committee meetings, and any other meetings that are deemed important. The Owner’s Representative is typically a person who signs change proposals, change orders, and who authorizes payment for all requisitions

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