STAYING ON COURSE:
Project Management for New-Builds and Major Refits
by Phil Friedman
When it comes to new-builds and refits, there are two common but distinct types of project overseers, in-house managers and owner’s representatives. It’s important to understand that an in-house project manager works for the boatyard and, consequently, his or her first-priority is to protect the yard’s interests ─ and, of course, profits.
Consequently, every yacht owner involved in a new-build or major refit should have a project manager whose primary responsibility is to protect that yacht owner’s interests.
- The key skill in representing an owner’s interests is knowledgeable facilitation. And the core functions of an owner’s rep or project manager are to:
- make certain the yacht owner or buyer understands and gets what he or she has contracted for;
- work to see that the build or refit proceeds smoothly, on schedule and on budget; and
- ensure, to as great a degree as possible, that everyone — both the owner and the yard ─ finish up the project on good terms, if not always bosom buddies.
Keep in mind that the goal is always to complete the project properly and deliver value to the yacht’s owner or buyer… with as little pain to the parties involved as possible.
Truth be known, when it comes to yacht construction and refit, self-styled experts abound.
Individuals without a clue about the difference between the catalyzed polymerization of polyester resin and the co-reacted polymerization of epoxy-based systems, are more than willing to advise you on the best way to build a fiberglass yacht.
People who lack even an inkling of understanding concerning the principles of developed and absorbed horsepower, stand ready to tell you in absolute, uncompromising terms what engines and propellers you need.
And just about everybody who has ever walked a dock (marine tradesman, diver, deck hand, pump-out jockey, or what have you), believes he or she can readily and easily manage your new-build or major refit project. Well, don’t buy it, not even for an instant.
The size and complexity of recreational craft have grown over the last two or so decades ─ to the point where they’re no longer “yachts,” but often more accurately small ships. Except for the simplest center-console boats and sailing dinghies, contemporary yachts are relatively so complex that no set of specifications or plans, no pre-contract discussions and agreements, no set of known yard standards are likely to be complete enough to pre-settle every question or issue that might arise during a new-build or a major refit project.
In fact, this is doubly true in the case of major refits, which generally require dealing on the fly with “emergent” work, that is, work the necessity of which only becomes apparent after the dismantling phase of the project has begun.
A first-rate owner’s representative/project manager needs to have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the technical aspects of yacht construction and repair. Indeed, truly deft project management…
- assures that the driving plan for the project coincides with vision of the yacht’s owner;
- facilitates timely communications and decision making during a build or refit project
- aids in avoiding misunderstandings during a refit or build;
- works to avoid delays and to keep the project on schedule; and
- increases the probability that the project will complete successfully, and to the owner’s or buyer’s satisfaction.
Naturally, these are or should be the rational objectives of every boatyard in the world, as well as of every yacht owner and new-build buyer. And securing the right representation and project management gives you the best chance of achieving these objectives.
─ Phil Friedman
Postscript: Are you considering, or have you already begun a major refit or new-build project? Talk to us about the highly qualified management and supervisory services we can provide to make your life easier and your project more enjoyable.