http://www.engineeringnews.co.za
  SEARCH
Login
R/€ = 13.84Change: -0.01
R/$ = 11.02Change: -0.07
Au 1171.20 $/ozChange: -29.02
Pt 1235.20 $/ozChange: -10.80
 
 
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?








Start
 
End
 
 
And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
 
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Contact Us
 
 
 
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
 
 
Jun 08, 2012

The buck should stop with the project manager

Back
Construction|Cable|Consulting|Design|Industrial|Petrochemicals|PROJECT|System|Systems|UPS|United States|Petrochemicals|Systems|Harry S Truman|Power|Cable
Construction|Cable|Consulting|Design|Industrial|Petrochemicals|PROJECT|System|Systems|||Petrochemicals|Systems|Power|Cable
construction|cable|consulting-company|design|industrial|petrochemicals-company|project|system|systems-company|ups|united-states|petrochemicals|systems|harry-s-truman|power|cable-product
© Reuse this



The buck stops here’ is a phrase popu- larised by US President Harry S Truman, who kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office.

We all know what ‘passing the buck’ means – to pass responsibility for a matter to somebody else – and ‘the buck stops here’ means that a person is facing up to that responsibility.

This article is about project managers. In general, there were no project managers in the commercial world when I was a young engineer – the architects did it (for an additional fee) and the engineers did what the architects told them to do. There were some project managers but they were mostly in the industrial world related to industrial or petrochemicals project construction. But, somehow, the architects were ousted and the modern project managers arrived. Now, on every contract, there is a project manager. Some are good, some very good and some just plain awful.

My practice gets work from project managers. If I bad-mouth them in print, they might not send us work. So, all you out there, assume that, if I have been under your guidance or on your project, I regard you with a reverence close on adoration. However, I have some general thoughts that I would like to get off my chest and hope you will not be too offended.

Firstly, on an electrical project . . . please remember that I have been an electrical engineer for 34 years and a professional engineer for 28 years. What this means is that my opinion on an electrical matter should have a lot more weight than that of an electrical contractor, a young engineer or a design technician. They may be able to argue better but, in general, in a dispute, I am right.

Secondly, it is not all simple. If I recommend a certain electrical contractor, usually it is not because the contractor’s fees are the cheapest – it is normally because the contractor is the best for the contract. And it is not my function to do quality assurance for a contractor. If I say: “Use this firm”, it is not because that firm will give me a back- hander; it is because it will produce, with a minimum of fuss, good-quality work that lasts. Ignore my recommendations and . . . you will be sorry.

Thirdly, in electrical work, there are very few ‘nice to haves’, apart from types of light fittings. If some smart person implies that the design can be done more cheaply than my design, he or she is usually right – only it will not work as well.

Unfortunately, electrical systems are deviously cunning. They lie in wait and take time to fail and, when they do, they do so in pairs, with one failure having nothing to do with the other. So, if you use cheap plastic distribution boards with cheap plastic circuit breakers, jammed with wiring since they are too small, the whole thing will fail– often on a long weekend, when the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system has gone down.

Fourthly, in general, inte- rior designers know nothing about lights, light fittings, socket outlets, wiring, data points, cable trays, cable terminations, UPS systems, power poles or the SANS 10142 standard. Similarly, consulting electrical engineers know nothing about interior paint finishes, wall cladding, tile types, carpet finishes, counter tops, bathroom taps or sanitary fittings. Thus, in the same way that you do not give the consulting electrical engineer the interior design, do not give the interior designer the electrical design.

Then there is the impossible we do immediately. Miracles take a little longer. Nope, I’m being sarcastic. But do accept that, in my life, I have (as have many others) worked through nights, had very early starts and worked over weekends. Trust me, very little of it has been necessary or of value in the long run. If there have to be changes to a design, then allow sufficient time to make sure those changes are not a stuff-up.

Finally, if things go wrong . . . you are the project manager. The sign on the US President’s desk read: “The buck stops here.” For some project managers, the sign should read: “The buck stops here . . . very, very briefly.” Don’t you be one of the latter. Think about it.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other Terry Mackenzie-Hoy News
I recently spent time with a group of teachers. I told them that I guessed a major drawback was dealing with parents who wanted to make sure their child was getting the best attention possible and that the teacher, who probably knows that the child in question is a...
Accountants make bad engineers. Engineers make bad accountants. Less than 20 years ago, most basic accountancy was carried out using a pen, a ledger book and a calculator. When computers became common, manual bookkeeping became redundant, though, as Thomas Hardy...
I was wandering around the Congo (Congo Brazzaville, for anybody knowing the difference) the other day and a few things caught my attention, the most compelling of which was the currency, which is the Central African Franc CFA). It trades at about 50 CFA to R1, or...
More
 
 
Latest News
Updated 3 hours ago The retail price of 95-grade petrol in South Africa will drop by 45 cents or 3.3 percent a liter from next Wednesday, while wholesale diesel will decrease by 4.9 percent, the government said on Friday. Petrol will cost 13.16 rand ($1.20) a liter while the wholesale...
Updated 3 hours ago Special purpose vehicle GreenCape will, by the end of 2014, make an application to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Western Cape provincial government and the City of Cape Town to declare Atlantis, on the Western seaboard, a special economic zone...
Updated 4 hours ago The German government has committed a further R70-million towards the second phase of the Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) programme. The NMT programme forms part of the Department of Environmental Affairs’ 2010 FIFA World Cup National Greening Legacy Programme.
More
 
 
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2014: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand...
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
 
 
 
 
 
This Week's Magazine
In the next 20 years, it was expected that, in Africa, more people would live in cities and towns than in rural areas, United Nations Habitat executive director Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira said at the Human Settlements Indaba that took place earlier this month in...
Tough-talking Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has committed government to building 1.5-million low-cost houses over the next five years, telling the Human Settlements Indaba in Johannesburg on Wednesday that the State would achieve this target through the...
Over the past 20 years there has been persistent concern about deindustrialisation in South Africa, as well as the fact that locally produced manufactured products have been increasingly displaced by imports.
Financial agreement for Ghanian independent power producer (IPP) Cenpower Generation Company’s $900-million, 350 MW combined-cycle gas-turbine power plant was finalised earlier this month, paving the way for the project’s construction to begin before 2015 in Tema,...
The revenue implications for South Africa of ‘base erosion and profit shifting’ by corporate taxpayers are firmly in the crosshairs of the Davis Tax Committee (DTC) and Judge Dennis Davis hinted last week that recommendations were being considered to “detect and...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
content
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
 
 
Close
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks