YACHT PROJECT MANAGEMENT: a guide for owners, managers & master builders What is a yacht project manager and why do I need one?
Any project needs to have planning, control and a responsible overview regardless if building a mega-yacht or an eight -foot dinghy. It is unusual to hire a project manager for yachts less than about 60 feet but some kind of input or consultation can take place for any sized boat. Much depends on the type of yacht, location, and experience of the owner.
As early as possible, even at design stage, it will be an advantage for the owners to engage a Project Manager. The project managers experience, knowledge and planning will save time, money and a good deal of stress for the owners. He is on hand full time to pull together all the strands of the project to form a tight cohesive team, to plan, coordinate, monitor and above all control; in short to ensure that the project is brought to a satisfactory conclusion, on time, in budget and to the quality specified. What can a Yacht Project Manager do for me?
Experience has proven it is an advantage to have your project manager involved even at the projects 'embryo' stage. His role as project manager, representing the yacht owners, might be some or all of the following:
Requirements of a good Yacht Project Manager
- Advise owners on yacht building procedures.
- Write or assist with writing the Technical Build Specification
- Prepare a Bill of Materials for the vessel
- Make & Job List & labour estimate to build the vessel
- Supply estimated 'time lines' and realistic build time frames
- Prepare, monitor and control The Master Build Plan
- Prepare and update the Vessel Build Log
- To plan systems & equipment installations
- Supply & monitor a list of design work required for Classification
- Prepare documentation for Classification, Flag State & MCA
- Produce a 'Funding Forecast' for payment to yards & suppliers
- Estimate the cost of equipment and installations;
- Find and introduce a build yard
- Oversee the building process locally
- Function as the owners purchasing agent
- Organise sub-contractors for systems & equipment installations;
- Oversee the fit-out, including systems, equipment, joinery, etc.
- Authorize and / or disperse payments as needed.
- Prepare and manage Dock & Sea trials
- Prepare & Supply Owners Manuals & As Built design drawings
- Prepare & Manage Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA)
- Manage the Weight study & 'As built' weight tally
- Manage Change Orders (CO or VTC) Variations to Contract
- Represent the owner of the yacht and his interests on site.
The build of any yacht is not a one man effort but should be a well choreographed 'team effort' monitored and managed by the yacht project manager. The qualities required for this role can only be gained by training and experience. A yacht project manager needs to have detailed knowledge, preferably 'hands on', of building and repairing yachts, sail and power, of all sizes in all materials (steel, wood, GRP composite & aluminium). This not only includes construction but also the many, and often complicated yacht engineering systems in use today. He needs to be innovative, well organised with good problem solving skills and understand the importance of good communications. He should have an understanding and some experience of naval architecture and design as well as a legal understanding of contracts, purchasing, negotiating and accounting. Added to this he will need to have a good knowledge of vessel operation, shipyard operations, project planning and monitoring as well as budgets, funding forecasts, labour rules, quality control, health and safety, plus rules and regulations for RCD built yachts, Classification of large yachts, flag state and MCA (LY2) requirements. He will often need to work with multi cultural work forces and foreign government departments and regulations. In short he needs to be professional, innovative, talented and trustworthy, a one man walking shipyard! The Master Builder
Project managers supplied by the build shipyard are often not project managers in the purest sense. They monitor work schedules and ensure materials and labour flow but their primary role is to represent the shipyard and see the shipyard makes, or does not loose, money. They do not necessarily have the owner's interests at heart. By contrast, the yacht build project manager needs to be more like a Master Shipwright or Master Builder who traditionally had full control and overall responsibility for the build and launch of the vessel directly for the vessels owners.
The yacht project manager should to be involved and support with pre-project planning. He needs to supply the owner and possibly the designer with information on materials, local labour rates, potential build venues and available sub-contractors as well as any experience he has from previous projects. The owner will need to know the cost of labour, materials and an overall "estimate cost" very early on despite this being difficult to obtain. The owner will need to change and update the vessels specification numerous times as he and his family requirements and ideas change. The pre-project work will often require visits and travel to see other similar yachts, shipyard locations or to meet with suppliers, sub contractors and shipyard managers. It is wise to allow a budget for this pre-project work. This is also a time where the owner and his project manager gets to know each other and how to work together to build the best possible yacht. It is important to remember we are building pleasure yachts. It is also important the owner and his family have every opportunity of enjoying the build process, perhaps the location, as well as the completed vessel and to have an advocate or intermediary with regard to the builder and subcontractors. The Project Management Process
Experience has shown it's an advantage to have your project manager involved even at the projects "embryo" stage. He may or may not be hired full time at the start but his input and experience from previous projects will be invaluable and support the owner and designer with information which may not be readily available. He can guide and support and start to plan and prepare even at very early stages. It is also critical to become familiar with the yacht, her systems and in particular the owner and his requirements. Timely and clear communications are also paramount. During the early stages of a project the project manager must set up a well organised method of receiving and storing information be it emails, technical specifications, design work, quotes or bills of materials. This information must be updated and readily available as owners may contact the project manager at any time (time zones considered or not). Good planning and good communications are an absolute must to any successful yacht build or refit project. As they rightly say, "A failure to plan is certainly a plan to fail."
"Story by Andy JJ Pitt MRINA."