The project manager is involved with projects from the very first meeting until the end of the warranty period. It is a major responsibility, but you should not lose sleep over it. Interpersonal skills, ability to work under pressure and managing your own time play a key role in everyday life as a project manager.
Jonne Vilen is an experienced Project Manager at Raumaster’s External Energy department. The paper machine technology engineer has worked in his current position since 2017. He began working for Raumaster as a designer in 2014 and has also worked as an installation supervisor as well as in implementation for a brief time.
The number of projects Vilen is responsible changes annually. Most often he is in charge of one larger project and a few smaller ones. At the moment, he is working on four different projects.
“In short, the project manager is responsible for the schedule, budget and activities related to customer relations. I make sure that the contracted equipment is manufactured within the given budget. The project manager has to know what the customer wants and what we are willing to do for it. I am involved from the very beginning and take care of the project until the end of the warranty period. Then, the CS department takes over the project”, Vilen says.
"The project manager is responsible for the schedule, budget and activities related to customer relations."
After the contract has been signed, the first internal meeting is held to discuss the project. Then, a kick off meeting is held together with the customer.
The head of the department chooses a project manager and a principal designer for the project. If the project does not require a principal designer, the project manager assumes the task. The rest of the project group is chosen by the different department heads.
“We always try to involve people who have experience with similar deliveries or the same customer as much as possible. Many things in documentation, for example, become easier if the operator is familiar with the customer’s needs and wishes.”
Tens of thousands of emails
The project manager’s closest colleague is usually the principal designer. As the project leader, Vilen’s job is to watch, guide, and monitor that everything proceeds as agreed.
“The first step of the project is layout design that serves as the base for equipment engineering. The machine is then manufactured and usually also installed and implemented based on the design”, Vilen explains.
“I make sure that everything moves forward as planned. I am in contact with many parties, such as the customer and our own people, and sometimes also our inspectors who work at our subcontractor machine shops.”
It is a major responsibility, and you need to keep several things under control simultaneously – sometimes under heavy time constraints. The job requires organizational skills and a systematic approach. Although the project manager is involved in many things, he does not need to know everything. Vilen laughs and says that he just needs to know who knows about what.
“I just checked the email folder of a large project that has reached the halfway point, and there were already 10,000 messages in there, and that was just the main project folder. There are also about a dozen or so related subfolders. I have not deleted emails from any projects yet because you never know what you will need.”
Almost always available
As the project manager, Vilen visits the installation sites once a month on average. He spends a few dozen days on the road annually.
“Seeing the installation process helps you to understand the overall situation and to recognise the requirements set by the schedule, for example. I find out what we have succeeded at and learn about possible challenges. Everything is a learning experience. I often go with the customer when they want to see the production. It is an important part of customer relations”, Vilen says.
Another part of customer relations is to be as available as possible. Vilen can also be contacted outside of the usual office hours.
“Our own people may also call from the site and when that happens, I know that they need a solution to a particularly important matter. Otherwise, they would not call on a Friday night, for example. I put my phone on silent during the night.”
"I can never be sure what I will face during the workday. Days that have a bit too much work to do suit me well."
Interpersonal skills, ability to work under pressure and time management are highlighted in the work of a project manager. Vilen acknowledges that you cannot take everything personally and you cannot lose sleep even if things do not go as planned.
“Workdays go by fast. I come to work and then when I look at the clock a moment later, eight hours have flown by. It happens almost every day. In the morning, I can never be sure what I will face during the workday. Days that have a bit too much work to do suit me well”, Vilen smiles.
What are the main differences in the days of the project managers of Raumaster Ltd and Raumaster Paper Ltd?
Jonne Vilen, Raumaster: In general, I am sure that our job descriptions are similar. The products create the main difference. While Raumaster Paper usually handles singular units, I always manage bulk goods. The machinery is very different, and it brings its own specifics to our daily work.