Frequently Asked Questions
This section provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the topics covered on this blog, namely the key skills and professional experience of John Hiscocks.
Key Skills – What Are Some of the Principles of Stakeholder Management?
There is little doubt that managing stakeholders’ expectations for the duration of a project is of utmost importance to its success. Keeping them engaged and managing them are considered some of the most important aspects of successful delivery. Project managers have to keep stakeholders apprised of progress to ensure they are aware of the impact of their decisions on the project’s outcome.
A good project manager will seek to understand stakeholders before aiming to influence them positively. Remember, stakeholders are both internal and external, and their participation is important throughout all phases of the project. It’s important to share information with them, but also equally important to understand them first.
In a project’s early stages, not all stakeholders may be clear on the approach, scope and risks involved. It is crucial for a project manager to establish communication channels early. They must also regularly engage stakeholders to ensure requirements are agreed upon and a solution is negotiated that is acceptable to all involved.
As a project manager, realise that stakeholders are only human and will not always behave consistently or rationally. Personal feelings and agendas sometimes play a role in decision making, so the critical thing to do is to try and understand the cause of the specific behaviour and see if there are better ways to find acceptable solutions.
Professional – What Is a Design and Build Firm?
For much of his later career, John Hiscocks has worked as a senior design director for design and build firms that deliver on high-profile construction projects. Design and build firms are steadily gaining relevance in the construction industry; they refer to companies that take care of the design as well as construction stages of a project. Traditionally, clients would engage an architect to come up with the plans before handing these over to a general contractor to execute. With design-build firms, these tasks are performed by a single company.
In many instances, such a firm will either lean more towards design – in this case, headed by a designer or architect – or have a construction expert at the helm. Some firms can have both specialities at the front. Regardless of the setup, it’s important for a client to understand fully what the firm can do, so that they are comfortable in letting them undertake a project.
There are a number of advantages to engaging a design-build firm for a construction project. The client only needs to communicate their vision to a single person or firm who then breaks it down to the rest of the team. There’s typically one point person whom the client engages with, and this individual is held accountable for various aspects of the project including budget, timelines and delivery.
When two entities are handling the design and building aspects of a project, there’s always the risk of personality clashes. With a design and build firm, that risk is eliminated.