Project Managers Look To PMI For Professional, Ethical Help


The following article appeared in the Philadelphia Business Journal April 27, 1987. Does your newspaper know about PMI?

By Francesca Chapman
Business Journal Staff Writer

PMI is the professional association for many local project managers. It is an international organization with nearly 6,000 members. The Philadelphia area chapter, the second largest in the nation, has more than 200 members.

On the site of any large construction project around town, you'll see a big board hanging up, listing the names of developers, builders, financers and project managers.

Are the project managers the ones in paisley ties or the ones in hard hats? A bit of both.

“They get involved early on in any big project, while the financing is under way, while the site is being selected, during construction, all the way down to where the truck arrives on the site with the pipes that go down to the basement,” said James Snyder, a founder of the Project Management Institute (PMI).

Anthony Cook, vice president of operations for the Philadelphia contracting firm Fletcher & Sons and a PMI members, uses project management computer techniques “to find the shortest line between the beginning and the end.”

PMI is the professional association for many local project managers. It is an intenational organization with nearly 6,000 members. The Philadelphia-area chapter, the second largest in the nation, has more than 200 members.

Ockman & Bordon Associates, a Wallingford consulting firm, uses project management techniques to assist real estate owners in end-of-contract disputes.

“We look at how the job should have been performed, based on quality and schedule costs, and we try to determine who shot whom, I suppose,” said Ockman, who is president of PMI's Philadelphiap-area chapter.

One situation Ockman recently investigated involved a payment claim where a contractor billed eight times more than was expected.

“We went through a lot of paperwork, and found that he'd filed in man-hours instead of man-days,” Ockman said. “But they're not all that easy.

In addition to construction, architecture and engineering, PMI has members in many other disciplines, including chemistry, medicine, technology, transportation, finance, insurance and law.

In the Philadelphia area, project management experts are often involved in construction.

“The reason the navy yard in Philadelphia wins projects for aircraft carriers is we've got better project managers than they have down in Norfolk,” and can be relied on to get a project in on time and on budget, Snyder asserted.

But many other PMI members around Philadelphia manage projects involving research and development for new drugs, because of the concentration of pharmaceutical companies in the area.

“At SmithKline, we use it to keep long-term, high-dollar research projects on track,” said Snyder, who is manager of international marketing operations at SmithKline Beckman Corp.

Project management can be crisis-oriented, said Bonnie McGarr, executive director of the PMI. “Whenever you hear about something terrible, you wonder if a crisis occured because of lack of project management,” she said.

“When a bridge collapses — was there a fault in construction? The Project Management Institute is very firm that there are standards…to be employed, for safety reasons as well as financial protection,” McGarr said.

The institute established a code of ethics for project managers that seeks to inspire ethics, accountablitity and high quality of workmanship within the profession.

Since 1984, PMI has offered a certification program, in which project managers acquire credits based on their education and experience in industry and academia.

To date, the institute has certified 140 members, who were tested on their knowledge of various facets of project management, like cost and estimating, quality control, scope, time, procurement, communications and human resource management.

PMI was launched by Snyder and other project management professionals at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the late 1960's.

“At that time, you could take a course in project management, and at the end of the course, the professors would say, ‘That's it, now you know as much as we do,’” Snyder said. “We thought, where can we take all of this from here?”

Many professional societies had, at that time, separate divisions to deal with project management within, for example, construction or finance or technology, but each field “is independent of our discipline,” Snyder said.

“You don't have to be a civil engineer to plan a construction project, or an aeronautical engineer to work on a NASA project,” he said.

“We did find that a number of people in specific disciplines have found that their real interest isn't in chemistry, for example, but in managing chemistry projects,” Snyder said.

Most major construction projects require a team of managers who will work for the owner and contractor or a consultant working for one of the two.

“Many are employed by the owner of a property, to keep a contractor honest,” Snyder said. “If something goes wrong on a site and you can lose $20,000 dollars a day…well, if you happen to own a consulting firm, it's a very profitable business.”




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