Select Interiors

The perfect job with the perfect client may at times seem like the existence of Unicorns



I would like you to imagine an enquiry from a perfect client, then a seamless delivery with no variations and a perfect, completed project on time, on budget and both client and contractor are ecstatic.

The client has a beautifully transformed space and the contractor has made 15% profit

Meanwhile back on planet earth….

The client gives a brief, designs and costs are produced. The client loves the design, but the budget is 30% less than costs submitted. You cost engineer the BoQ and end up with a symphony of imperfections trying to be all things to all men. The budget has been hacked to within an inch of breaking even. The great ideas guillotined by the cold reality that there are not the funds to realise the original brief/vision

Every project is a one-off prototype, the dream project I started with where workplace projects are delivered on time and on budget with cordial, professional relationships are what we strive for. We all know and have experienced the second scenario as it’s unfortunately more common than the first in terms of a reduced budget not meeting the soaring ambition of the original brief.

Are there any aspects of the 2nd & most common scenario that we can look to improve to try and extract both profit, good relations all round and a beautiful fit-out?

See above a couple of images of a recently completed project for the dynamic property developer Vincent Cheng.


We cannot magic a higher budget, we can however we can look at the ‘soft skills’, which are not easy to judge or describe, but which are critical nonetheless. If we could improve performance, the efficiency would ameliorate the friction between the incompatibles – reduced budget – great design & fit out delivered to programme.

The management principles of a project can be reflected in a Gantt chart illustrating a sequence of cascading events leading to hand-over. However, a Gantt chart is a guide and is constantly evolving as events unfold, it’s not a bible but an indicative barometer. Even if a project programme is rigorously updated as things change, it can only depict resources, tasks and time. The unrepresented factor is how people actually operate.

Let’s assume that our team is competent in each separate discipline. What can possibly go wrong?

Project delivery date is threatened by a series of variations outside of the scope and expected professional expertise, and yet can have the greatest impact on output. The ability to work together and exercise judgement can make the difference between success and failure.

I can think of four examples that illustrate this theme, which I expect will be familiar to many of you.

Teams take time, as well as effort, to become effective. They can’t run the day after they are born

At Select Interiors our project team consists of professionals who know their stuff. On both client and supplier side, you can have an impressive array of people who are talented, well trained and have seen it all before, but this is not enough to guarantee a successful outcome.

We know that teamwork is essential in all commercial endeavours, but do people study the mechanics of teams to increase the chances of them working? Team members will carry their own set of expectations and roles that do not come in their job description, but project leaders hope that a collection of competent individuals will synchronise perfectly after their first handshake. Teams take time, as well as effort, to become effective. They can’t run the day after they are born.

Getting a clear understanding of who really makes decisions and signs things off can be as tricky as it is essential. Often, even the client team does not know for sure. A large capital project may not be their day job, and their decision structure might not be defined and tested. A critical area of people management is communication. In business it is almost impossible to over-communicate, and thinking about channels, content, timing and provenance will never be wasted effort. Simple misunderstandings can hinder & de-rail the most robust project trajectory.

Finally, there is pace. You can always compress and speed up a process, but people are generally less compliant.

New thinking takes time to be absorbed, forcing things can be counterproductive. The natural speed of psychological acceptance is not a calculation, it takes care and nurturing to manage the changes.

See above images of a recently completed project for the expanding property group Jordan Fishwick Estate Agents.


Everyone benefits when we value the people skills needed to oil the cogs and wheels of a project. We need to respect diplomacy and judgement in every job, not just as desirable attributes, but as critical ones. Each project team needs savvy in areas not taught in school, and often not high on the register of interest for practitioners, but which can make the difference between success and failure.

When people enjoy trust, respect and transparency from their colleagues, they will be closer to delivering the first example I started the blog with.



Latest News…


Select Interiors have won a hard-won tender to design & fit out head offices for a key Transport Operator.

The company committed to sourcing a minimum of 40% of supplier contracts within 25 miles of Greater Manchester and Select Interiors are proud to be of service and part of this commitment to local suppliers.




Layout drawings, notes & 3D models for the conversion of the 1st floor subdivided basic offices to open plan with A/C, LED lighting and full F&F package to completion including full submission to Building Control.

We at Select Interiors Office Design & Fit Out Company judge the success of the buildings and places we design by the way people use and enjoy them – the clients who commission them, the people who inhabit them. Good design is about helping clients meet their needs and objectives. It is also about the way people feel when they experience it, a sense of meaning, connection and belonging.

Talk to the experts about how an engaging fit out can improve productivity and wellbeing to help attract & retain motivated staff call the Select Interiors design team on 0161 445 4040.


Related posts

0161 445 4040

Studio 31a, Tib Street, Manchester, M4 1LX