Newton Home and Garden Center not only sold merchandise to wholesale and retail trade, but also operated a landscape division to install projects for residential and commercial clients. Project Management for Dummies

Project Management is the function of wisdom, expertise, tools and techniques applied to job’s activities in order to achieve project objectives. Successful project management brings many benefits in today’s competitive business environment; for example:

  • Lower costs
  • Improve control of the operational, financial and employees’ resources
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved quality
  • Happier customers and employees.

One of our projects for Builtwell Brothers Ltd entailed planting 350 trees to create a buffer for a new housing development.

Analysis: The Project Manager of the housing develoProject Managerent showed me the blueprint specifications that had been submitted and approved by the township, the tree selection was coniferous, or unspecified evergreen. I inspected the planting site for environmental conditions including: the type of existing plant materials and their health, sun/shade exposure, wet/dry soil type, drainage issues, digging difficulty level (shale), neighbor proximity, water availability, and access. Subsequently, I met with the Project Manager and told him my recommendation of several species including Picea pungens or Colorado spruce, Picea glauca, White Spruce, and Picea abies, Norway Spruce, the price for the size indicated, and the time line for installation (Timing is inherently a constraint).

When bidding on a project, tree sizes are classified as 6’-7’ or 8’-10’; this is an area of risk. Risk management techniques include having the clients tag their specific plants, and explaining the American Nurseryman Association‘s industry standards in the grading nursery plant products. The lessons learned include the need to qualify expectations, constant communication, and documentation. Since someone’s perception can never be incorrect, it is of paramount importance to consistently be on the same page as the client throughout the entire project.

Implementation: The goal is to efficiently and effectively install three hundred and fifty trees. How will the project and the stakeholders be impacted by incorrectly marked utilities, inclement weather conditions, a diminished work force, equipment failures, tardy delivery of plant materials, and irate neighbors? Risk management includes speaking to the owners of all properties in the vicinity of or involved with the plant installations, including the owners of all properties that might have to be traversed; scheduling routine maintenance for Bobcat/auger immediately before any large project; and confirming if and when the treesProject management contractor man have left the grower’s nursery.

Lessons learned include: it is less expensive to handle the trees once (direct shipment), Builtwell Brother’s new homeowners are key stakeholders, and good help is hard to find.

Support: Clients had to be trained and educated to properly care/maintain healthy trees, shrubs, perennials and flowers. Watering specifications (duration/ frequency) were most important to the survival of the plants. Risk centered on the plant warranty (which impacted our reputation). All of the plants installed by the nursery were guaranteed to live at least one year. Therefore, plant materials installed during the summer, at homes not equipped with irrigation systems, carried a higher probability of demise.

The Project Manager’s Role in the project:


  • To utilize expertise in horticulture and arboriculture to solve and prevent potential problems for clients through perspicacious landscape design and plant selection.
  • To identify clients’ aesthetic, environmental, and budgetary objectives.
  • To meet and surpass the customer’s expectations, receive remuneration, and generate new perspective clients.

Scope Creep Risks: The next scheduled job is pushed back, and the next client will be unhappy. Some client’s refuse to pay original bill until new work is complete.

Assumptions: Employees will show up on time and work safely and efficiently, equipment will function properly, suppliers will deliver on time, plant materials will be transported safely, and clients will pay upon project completion or terms.

Constraints: Weather, Labor, Time, and Budget

Timelines: Time is money, the longer the job takes to complete, the less profit the company will generate.

Stakeholders: clients, employees, competitors, builder’s new homeowners, property owners near the project site locations, suppliers, my family, the families of the company employees, and my bartender.

Outcomes: Ensure the delivery of quality products and ongoing customer service and satisfaction.

Lessons learned: Communicating across the organization to gain quality performance from all parties. Communicating with the clients to qualify and quantify gray areas, instill confidence, and meet/exceed their expectations.