How to Assemble the Right Team for Your Project

As a project manager, part of my role is to assemble the project team. Depending on the size and scope of the project, this could include interior designers, architects, MEP engineers, furniture vendors, low voltage, A/V, security and of course general contractors.

While there are a lot of great firms out there, it’s important to note that not every firm is the right fit for every project. Each project has different requirements and each client has different values. We strive to be strategic in the selection process, by matching the right team to the project in terms of expertise, pricing and bandwidth.

Here are a few of the key factors that help my clients and I work through the selection process.


Building out the project team is all about making sure we have the right people at the table. There is no better way to get to know a firm’s work, than by asking fellow colleagues and trade partners, checking references and seeing their work firsthand. I like to ensure the firm has done similar projects in the past. This is especially important if the project in question has unique requirements, such as a production and manufacturing facility or a medical office. These types of projects come with specific compliance and regulation guidelines that we need to follow and adhere to. Using a firm that specializes in the specific niche that we’re looking for will help the process run smoother every time.


Transparency is key to keeping a project on budget, which is why we typically ask for an “open-book” policy. When hiring firms, specifically general contractors, it helps to see and understand the entire pricing narrative. This includes overhead fees and the subcontractor bids. In the Portland market, overhead and profit ranges from 7 - 10 percent. If a bid varies too far from the norm in either direction, it’s important to understand why that is and how it might impact the client throughout the project.

Another place that we look for full transparency is in the proposals and contracts. We like to fully understand the scope of services being provided, what additional services are not included in the base scope, as well as their costs. I also look closely at what the terms and conditions are, including payment terms and what the projected reimbursable expenses are. It’s important that we understand the details. The more thorough we are, the better we can ensure the project needs are met.


What is the size of the firm? What other projects are coming down their pipeline? To make sure that we stay on schedule, it’s important to be sure the firm selected has the capacity to take on the project and will be committed to it through completion.

Along with capacity for the project, I also like to match the size of the firm to the size of the project. For example, a large multi-national firm that charges a hefty premium is most likely not the best fit for a small nonprofit project who needs only basic tenant improvement updates and whose primary concern is cost.

In any scenario, we’re looking for the best possible match. We act as advocates for the occupier, making sure that our clients get the best value for the best price. Click here, to learn more about how Cresa’s project management services can provide value to your project.

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