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Selecting the Right Project Management Specialist for 2024

Selecting the Right Project Management Specialist for 2024
January 25, 2024

Capital projects in the food and beverage industry require specific expertise in project management to deliver these complex and high value projects successfully. If you’re looking to engage project management specialists in 2024, you’ll want a team with diverse technical, industry and project management expertise. You’ll want that team to be highly experienced in capital project delivery, and to have a strong engineering and safety background.

As specialists in this field, we know how important it is to undertake a rigorous selection process to ensure you have the right skills fit for your project. Our knowledge of the food processing and manufacturing sector ensures that we can add value to brownfield developments from Day One. Whether you’re planning a new build facility or integrating new processes and equipment into an existing manufacturing site, our professional engineers and project managers ensure that project will be a success.

Project managers come in all forms, with different levels of expertise and varying skill sets. This article sets out the importance of project management for your next capital project in the manufacturing sector. Let’s take a look at five important considerations for selecting your next project management specialist.

1. Understanding the Need for a Project Management Specialist

A competent project manager can simplify a complex project, and ensure it is being delivered in the most cost-effective and efficient way. Utilising a contract project manager allows you to bring external advice and expertise to the project, to work closely with your in-house operations, engineering and management teams to ensure you achieve the outcome you need.

Complex projects usually demand on site project management to maintain a working relationship between the project team members . Having a specialist manage project planning, key deliverables, budget and timeline frees up your team to continue with their critical day job, while acting as subject matter experts and advisors to the project.

A TEG  project manager offers their clients unique skills and experience. Our team has expertise spanning mechanical, process, civil/ structural, electrical and automation. Our safety engineering division (TEG Risk) can provide our clients machine safety, HAZOP, hazardous areas and combustible dust consulting specialist expertise. Our team are also knowledgeable in FIDIC, NZS 3910, NZS 3916 and Design-Build contracts. 

A competent Engineering Project Manager should be able to manage a capital project from start to finish including the following activities:

  • understanding the client requirements  and developing a project scope to meet the client needs
  • undertake project feasibility studies to assess the project justification
  • prepare, review, and analyse project programmes to ensure everything is on time in an efficient manner.
  • develop new processes or improve existing processes by reducing cost, improving quality, and reducing waste.
  • use value engineering, innovation and LEAN processes to drive lower cost solutions.
  • provide cost estimation, cost planning, and cost management to control projects within the project budget and provide real-time cost status reporting.
  • prepare tender and contract documents.
  • prepare business case and capex submissions
  • manage project communications to keep all stakeholders in the loop
  • Manage and communicate project/ business risks
  • be responsible for contractor management and site safety
  • drive timelines to meet deadlines
  • manage payments, variations, scope changes, claims, and contract correspondence
  • manage commissioning, hand-over and close out processes

Modern day capital projects are increasingly complex, having a wide range of stakeholders, machinery and technology all needing to work seamlessly while ensuring the safety of installation contractors and end- users of plant.

Investing in a competent Project Manager at the beginning of a capital project pays dividends in efficiencies, cost savings and keeping your project on track. Managing important capital projects like these internally often overload the site team, putting business-as-usual operations at risk. Furthermore inexperienced team members may make errors throughout the project life cycle leading to cost blow-outs or schedule slippage.

2. Key Qualities and Skills to Look For in a Project Manager

When we recruit a new Project Management specialist, we don’t look for diverse sectors and skill sets, as our clients require capital project management expertise specifically in food and beverage industry..

The majority of our staff are sourced from our food industry networks who have qualifications and technical expertise in: mechanical, process, and electrical engineering. In addition to engineering qualifications, we recruit people with practical expertise working on food manufacturing and processing sites. This means TEG staff understand how a processing site operates, GMP & hygiene requirements and  how to integrate with a site based project team. 

Our staff are trained in contractor management and  machine safety. They have experience in drafting business cases, early technical development of a project, management of stakeholders and setting up a project team.  Soft skills include being able to get up to speed on a client site, and establishing cooperative relationships with key stakeholders quickly.   

While some of our Project Managers have come from a design background this tends to be the exception . Engineering design is detail-focussed, getting all the technical details absolutely correct. The detail focus can be a barrier to effective project management as design focussed professionals can get lost in the detail and lose the “big picture view” which is an essential requirement for effective project management. Furthermore designers are often not natural communicators and can be somewhat introverted, while project managers need strong verbal and written communication skills to interact with team members, stakeholders, contractors and clients. The food and beverage industry is fast moving and project managers need to be flexible, agile and adaptable. These traits are seldom associated with design professionals who are typically more focussed on quality and technical correctness.

3. Crafting the Selection Process

Selecting the right Project Manager for your project requires a careful selection process. A mix of solid technical skills, relevant industry experience and the soft skills to get a project over the line are all required.

We suggest reaching out to a team of project managers who are specialists in managing projects in the food and beverage industry. This ensures that you’ll have the right expert on the job from the beginning of the process. At TEG Projects we specialise in project management and our Project Managers are usually seconded onto client sites to work with client project team members from operations, and site engineering who have the knowledge and experience of the site processes and people. This pairing creates a robust project team of experts that ensures project success.

Being able to access the expertise of a wide range of skills can be really beneficial. At TEG Projects, our clients are continually impressed with the range of Project Managers we have available, bringing with them vast experience in the food processing sector including process, packaging, services, electrical, building/ construction, machine safety, contractor management risk management and project management. 

4. Assessing Fit and Compatibility

At TEG Projects we believe that Project Managers should have a clear alignment between skill and the project they are commissioned to work on. Design skills are not generally not required and design specialists can be commissioned by the project team. Our project engineers inherently bring with them innovative solutions and processes to make their projects run more smoothly, creating solutions that exceed client expectations.

We believe that the key to successful working relationships between Project Managers and clients include collaboration, sharing knowledge, and the desire to work together to deliver a project. Project Managers should be genuine leaders, that approach a project with a ‘can do’ attitude, and strive for delivery excellence.

If you keep these factors front of mind, you can’t go wrong with your selection. It is also useful to check in that the Project Manager’s approach aligns with your company values and project goals.

A Project Manager does not need to be able to do everything required within a project framework. We believe that speciality project elements such as design, process knowledge, finance or IT should be headed up by internal or external resources.

5. Ensuring Long-Term Project Success

Success looks different for each of our clients, which is why we continue to offer our expertise pre-project, during the project and post-project. However a major factor in a successful project over the long term is to engage a Project Manager with the right skills fit from the outset. 

Internally we develop our Project Managers by providing ongoing support, collaboration, and professional development. We run regular team training days which helps to not only get everyone on the same page, but increase connection with our open and supportive work culture. These training days and other get-togethers we have throughout the year are also an opportunity for swapping knowledge, expertise and solutions. TEG also provides staff with training in project management, risk management, contractor management and machine safety.

Have you got a capital project that requires a Project Manager? Or are you interested in engaging with a team that understands the requirements for capital project management in the food and beverage industry? Reach out to our team today.