Instead of spending so much time chasing after the ideal of that perfect “project manager,” it may be more profitable for construction companies to create a culture that fosters perfect “project management.” In fact, according to the results of the “2006 Project Management Survey,” conducted by Raleigh, N.C.-based management consulting firm FMI, it is seldom the lack of an individual's construction experience or technical skills that lead to a project's downfall. Instead, the biggest problems can often be traced back to a project manager's lack of planning, communication style, and/or business skills.

A mail-in survey taken by 196 general contractors and trade contractors in the summer and fall of 2005, this study targeted respondents at the company vice president level and above. Citing lack of financial management skills as one of the greatest weaknesses for most new project manager candidates, this group also listed client/customer relations and building skills as their strongest skill set.

According to the report, the general approach to choosing a project manager appears to be “hire and promote people with field experience and technical skills, and they will learn whatever else they need to know on the job.” For this strategy to work, however, FMI maintains that contractors must do more in the way of on-the-job training to develop project managers' skills in management and business best practices.

For complete survey results, contact Phil Warner at pwarner@fminet.com.