Meet… the project coordinator

At Northrop, our project coordinators work on some of our more complex multidisciplinary projects, ensuring everything happens when it needs to happen, and preventing things from falling through the cracks. Brian O’Halloran is an experienced project coordinator in our building services team in Sydney. He tells us all about the day-to-day realities of project coordination.

What does a project coordinator actually do?

We essentially fill the gap between our client and our internal teams - job managers, accounts and the delivery team. There are often benefits to having an engineer that works on the project, act as coordinator. However, on some of our larger projects, we could have up to 20 people working across different offices and disciplines. This is where a project coordinator can help. My role is to keep everything running smoothly!

So, when do you get involved?

Right from the start, for projects that involve three or more disciplines. In Sydney we organise the handover meeting with the whole team and our client’s internal stakeholder to understand the project’s vision and our agreed delivery scope. Shortly after we attend the project initiation meeting with the client and entire design team to discuss the key project items such as program and deliverables.

I work with the team and set up deadlines, organise accounts and set up internal communication platform tools where the team can collaborate with each other. Throughout the lifespan of the project I also set up internal coordination meetings ahead of key deliverable dates to ensure we have no major clashes, no road-blocks and the project can keep moving.

What are the key characteristics of an effective project coordinator?

You’re the key point of contact for the client and the team internally, so you’ve got to be an effective communicator and a good organiser! You’ve also got to be a good problem solver, as you’re the key point of contact for any issues that arise that are non-discipline specific. We also provide project updates to the client stakeholder on an ongoing basis, so that stakeholder relationship management is crucial, too.

What does a typical day look like for you? Is there such a thing?

Lots of meetings and follow-up phone calls! We continually discuss any challenges the project is facing and help work through solutions to progress the job.

Each project presents unique challenges and opportunities. I always make sure that I take time out to stop and really understand them, and how we can best approach them. No two days are the same, which is what I love about the role. You just need to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in!

What’s the benefit to the client?

They’ve got a dedicated person overseeing and coordinating the job. They know who to come to if they have any questions. Clients sometimes need urgent advice, and I can get back to them quickly as I work through the entire business.

The reality is that large projects have many moving parts. They can change direction at short notice. Delivery dates can be pushed. Without someone who has complete oversight across the whole project, things can be missed, or decisions made that don’t take the holistic situation into account. We run the job, and ensure the entire team – internally and externally – is across the specifics of the job, the requirements and, most importantly, understand them.

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