How I saved 40% of costs using project management skills. You can, too.
‘A project manager’ sounds like a boring role nowadays. Nearly not as cool as ‘growth-hacker’, ‘customer engagement manager’, ‘content creator’, ‘digital transformation leader’ or similar.
What if I told you that when building my first house and renovating the current one I saved around 40% of renovation costs? How? Only by avoiding ‘turn-key’ solutions, carefully selecting subcontractors, coordinating them, preparing good specifications and being merciless during quality checks.
But let’s start at the beginning
I called the renovation subcontractor that markets itself as a ‘turn-key’ company. The man came, we drank coffee and discussed ideas about the renovation. Then he sent a quote, let’s say 3 monetary units to complete everything: from demolition to installing LED lights. I almost accepted the offer, because I didn’t want to be involved in all the construction details, again.
Nevertheless, I had second thoughts, prepared a list of wishes (rough specification) and called the specialised subcontractor (masonry, electrician, plumbing, tiling…). Local portals (MojMojster…) weren’t very useful, nobody applied to my project. Then I called my trusted painter and asked him about dry-wall experts. I asked the dry-wall expert about the electricians and so on. The rest I found using plain Google search and private groups on FB. It seems word-of-mouth and expert groups on social media are good sources for searching subcontractors.
When I received their quotes I was a bit surprised. When I summarised partial proforma invoices, the same number kept showing up: 1.8 (monetary units), which was 60% of the ‘turn-key’ price. I expected the difference of 10-15%, but 40%?
The project started
The project started and I had to call subcontractors, coordinate their timing and sequence, discuss the specifications (usually written on a napkin) with each of them and check their work (quality management). I had to drive several times to the local shop to buy or replace some materials. I had to learn a bit about materials, architecture, and building techniques.
It took a lot of my time and nerves, but the job was done just a few days after the deadline.
I’ve constantly swung among 2 alternatives: should I do some task (e. g. wiring) by myself. I enjoy doing things with my hands and I can learn about anything :). Should I hire someone? It was a great test of delegation. Delegation issue bothers me in my professional life too. I’ve chosen a middle path: not doing everything by myself, but being involved in a project. My satisfaction was comparable.
This was an example of a personal project but it can be applied to professional projects too. The principles are the same: you are always juggling with money, time and quality. The tasks are the same: choosing the optimal supplier, coordination, task delegation, quality checks.
Project management is not for everybody. Some prefer to pay more and get final results without intervention. Some don’t have time or knowledge for deeper involvement. I consider myself a lifelong learner and enjoy acquiring new skills. If you are too, you’ll consider managing your next life or professional project by yourself.
Pros (managing a project by yourself):
Can save you money.
A deep satisfaction of being involved in the creation of something.
Each project or milestone improves your knowledge about different domains.
More connections: you get familiar with different people with different skills.
You need more time.
You need to check after every milestone.
You need to have some content-wise knowledge about the project you’re managing.
You need to know how to write detailed specifications for each phase.
You have to negotiate with multiple people.
More administrative work (multiple invoices).