Who’s the Project Manager?

The television network, DIY Network, was designed to teach people a little something about residential construction. The network assumes its viewers have little to no experience in construction.  Through a series of tips and tricks the program teaches basic residential construction work that can help make remodeling a home easier.

This past weekend while sitting at home, relaxing and watching television, I happened upon a show on the DIY Network that was showing people how to remodel a master bathroom, but that wasn’t the thing that caught my eye. What I noticed was that the show identified one person doing the hands on work of all the trades as, the Project Manager.

Now, at first glance one might think, ‘Well, that makes sense. A person, doing the work, leads the project, he’s the Project Manager’. As a professional project manager having worked on large commercial and institutional and governmental projects, I was surprised that they would reduce the position to one laborer doing all the work. In construction, one laborer doing the work of multiple trades is called a handy person, not a project manager.

Calling this person a Project Manager is a misnomer of the tallest order and does more damage than good. As a person with extensive hands on experience, I have often found there are issues with some of the programming on the DIY Network for various reasons. However, I was never before as taken aback as I was with watching one man perform the task of project manager and only laborer. This misrepresentation of the industry, in order to wrap a project up into a one-hour episode, does more to damage people’s perception of Project Management than to bolster it.

The main functions of the Project Manager is to help the owner create the budget, the scope of work, hire the contractors and to coordinate the trades to ensure that the owner gets what they pay for. This one laborer did not create the scope of work or determine the budget, they did not hire themselves and there were no other contractors on site. In residential renovation projects such as the ones featured on the DIY Network, the Owner should be the one identified as the Project Manager.


© 2011, RCartright. All rights reserved.

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