Construction project management involves directing and organizing each part of the project life cycle, from the conceptual stage to completion. It’s a holistic practice to deliver projects on time, under a specified budget, and within the desired quality. Construction project management is a complex discipline that requires addressing many important concerns, including cost control, scheduling, procurement, and risk assessment. Project managers interact with all team members involved in a construction project, from consultant architects, Engineers, and Quantity surveyors to owners and contractors.
Our main goal is to ensure the entire construction process goes smoothly and according to plan. We are responsible for ensuring that all project stakeholders are maintaining a tight schedule, staying within budget, allocating resources, avoiding deviating from the original scope, and ensure that quality remains the supreme objective in every project that we handle. We also assess risks in real time and keep stakeholders informed. By centralizing information and streamlining communication, we create an efficient process that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
Process Of Construction Management
Understanding the construction process is an important factor in any construction project:
1. Planning and Development
Determining whether to pursue a project is the first and most important part of the construction process. Halting projects after they’ve begun is costly, and the further they progress, the greater the potential losses become. Feasibility studies, capital budgeting, pro-con lists, and extensive input from stakeholders are staples of this stage. You can use these practices, and others, to answer key questions about the project:
- Will it yield a positive Return on investment ROI?
- Are the associated risks manageable?
- Does it fit into your company’s portfolio?
To have clear feedback use a clear robust data analysis and feedback from the construction team of experts. Analytics provides decision-makers with an objective perspective on the proposed project, while wide-ranging input from team members can help identify potential issues that might otherwise pass unnoticed.
Once you’ve decided on a project, it’s time for the creativity dynamics to start flowing. The design phase involves developing everything from the basic concept of the project to detailed blueprints that show the final design. Your design will evolve from initial sketches to finished drawings and specifications, but each iteration should meet the project’s requirements while keeping the timeline in mind and costs under control.
Also, 3D visual presentation is a key requirement, especially in modern designs to help clients visualize the entire project for /her objection before the project kicks off.
Once the design is finalized and approved, it’s time to move on to the pre-construction phase.
Preconstruction involves creating a roadmap that will guide you through the construction process. It’s about building a game plan for the project that shows everyone what they need to do, when they need to do it, how they should accomplish it, and what it should cost. If all parties stick to the plan and execute their roles to perfection, they’ll deliver the project on time, to standard, and within budget.
Pre-construction involves a wide variety of critical tasks. Here are a few of the most important:
- Define and allocate resources.
- Set up mini-budgets.
- Create timelines and deadlines.
- Distribute tasks.
- Map out work and operations through work breakdown structures (WBS), organization breakdown structures (OBS), and other tools.
Risk assessment and contingency planning are also major parts of preconstruction. Things rarely go just as planned during a construction project — often due to factors outside your control — so project managers and stakeholders must prepare for things going wrong. The more proactive you are, the less time, money, and resources you’ll lose trying to get back on track if and when hiccups occur.
4. Procurement and Planning
Procurement encompasses sourcing, purchasing, and transporting the materials and services you need to complete a project. Procurement and supply chain managers should provide input in the planning stages to keep unexpected cost overruns to a minimum during this stage. Even so, some volatility is inevitable, as prices are subject to shifts in the market. You should account for this risk to the extent possible through robust preconstruction planning.
There are benefits and drawbacks to sourcing materials from local, regional, or global markets. Local procurement may take less time, but it may come at a greater cost, while less expensive materials shipped over long distances may be more subject to delays and supply chain interruptions. Engage in thorough research so you can choose the right options to meet budgetary requirements and stay on schedule.
Choosing when to perform procurement is another major decision. Rather than completing procurement before the construction project begins, you can obtain the resources you need as the project progresses to meet evolving requirements. While this strategy provides additional flexibility, reduces holding costs, and preserves liquidity, it risks delayed shipments or shortages that may slow the entire project. It also exposes you to potential price increases. Whatever approach you choose, try to align purchase orders with your construction plan and have contingencies in place to preserve your budget and schedule as circumstances change.
You’ve made your plan, everyone knows what their jobs are, and you have the resources you need to get started. Now construction can commence. All your preparation and planning pay off in this stage, helping the construction process move along smoothly and finish successfully. Even the most thorough plans can’t anticipate every hiccup along the way, of course, so regular monitoring and evaluation of progress during this phase is vital for staying on course.
When you have to make adjustments due to new circumstances or goals, change management comes into play. Project managers must adapt as needed while remaining within the parameters of the project’s plan. Look for a change management solution that can help analyze the impact of changes and minimize their impact on the project.
Project Management Processes
Now that you know the major stages of a construction project, let’s take a look at how construction management fits in. These construction management processes are the key to keeping a project running smoothly from start to finish.
1. Conceptualization (ideation) and Research
Conceptualization is part of front-end loading (FEL), the planning and design portion of the project life cycle. It’s when every detail of a project is scrutinized by stakeholders to see if it aligns with your company’s current and future portfolio of projects. The proposed project must make sense in terms of ROI, applicable regulations, integration with existing projects, risk, and other factors.
During this process, ideas are refined into project proposals through rigorous research and data-driven analysis. Capital budgeting, feasibility studies, brainstorming, and financial breakdowns are just some of the practices involved in this phase. While considering the project, actively solicit input from as many team members as possible to ensure that it comprehensively aligns with your organization’s portfolio. One of the conceptualization’s primary goals is to ensure a steady stream of high-value projects while keeping risk at a manageable level. A project that has the potential for a significant ROI but comes with major risks may not fit in with a portfolio of safe, stable investments. Even if it does, it will require greater attention and maintenance throughout the project life cycle.
2. Define and Plan the Project
Once you’ve settled on a project, it’s time to flesh out the details to prevent scope creep and keep your team aligned once the project begins. Important details that should be addressed at this stage include the project’s scope, a feasible timeline, required resources, a reasonable and accurate budget, and key performance indicators (KPIs). Inviting feedback from as many relevant team members as possible during this phase should again be a priority, together with determining what personnel the project will require.
3. Determine Roles
With the many parties involved in any construction project, you need to clearly define the role of each. This clarifies everyone’s responsibilities, enables you to hold team members accountable, and prevents confusion and delays. When all team members know their role in the project and how to accomplish their tasks, redundancies disappear and tasks don’t slip through the cracks.
4. Finalize and Execute Construction Plans
Before actual construction kicks off, project managers should meet with the appropriate stakeholders to review the plan and ensure everyone is on the same page. While there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with unexpected difficulties and changes as the project progresses, failing to obtain explicit buy-in before construction begins all but guarantees that you’ll face additional challenges along the way.
Once construction begins, project managers must do everything they can to keep the process coordinated and efficient. This means rigorously measuring and tracking progress. Relevant and comprehensive KPI (Key Performance Indicators) updated in real-time — provide invaluable insight into the performance and status of the project. Selecting the right KPIs is critical, as they provide a way to efficiently monitor the project at a glance and see if it’s going off track. With data on the current status of your budget, procurement, and other key aspects of the project, you can draw the insights you need to control costs and meet deadlines.
Handling Construction Project Management Challenges
Construction project management involves its share of challenges. Here are some of the most common and some tips on how to overcome them.
Communication and Document Management
Maintaining lines of communication between everyone on a construction project isn’t easy. And keeping an accessible, accurate repository of all project documents can be even more difficult. But the risks that come with poor communication and document management are too large to ignore.
From change orders to ongoing procurement, a miscommunication that delays just one critical process can bring the entire project to a halt, lead to cost overruns, or cause conflict between parties. Avoid the challenges of attempting to manage communication through email, chat, phone, and other channels with a software solution that centralize communication and information in one single platform.
Together with facilitating frequent communication, project managers are responsible for document management. Contractors, insurance companies, owners, and other parties need a single source of truth they can rely on. You can start creating a centralized document management system by examining your organization’s current document management system, centralizing existing documents, standardizing processes, and taking advantage of a document management system with the future you need.
The complexity and importance of estimating costs, necessary resources, and timeline in construction can’t be stressed enough. Even a minor error in estimation can lead to a loss on a project given the tight margins in the construction industry. A significant margin of error when estimating the cost of a large-scale project, like constructing a power plant, could even lead to the project being shut down midway, with a huge amount of sunk costs. While price fluctuations, currency drops, material shortages, and other factors can make estimation an inexact science at best, considers using tools to help you consider all these variables and make your estimates as accurate as possible.
When data is decentralized and hard to access, miscommunication runs rampant, and projects rarely go according to plan. Data silos can affect cost control, the project’s timeline, risk assessment, and more. If your contractor is waiting on information that’s already available or decides to push through without it, you’re going to either face delays or be forced to cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Lack Of Real-time Data For Risk Assessment And Change Management
Sharing data across your team doesn’t matter if the information is out of date. Construction projects are, by their nature, works-in-progress, so you need real-time data to stay on top of new developments and address challenges as they arise.
Construction Management Consultancy
At DKB consortium our main goal is to help our clients achieve operational excellence during the project period and beyond. We usually identify the areas of improvement and also we guide successful fundamental changes.
We also ensure that there is a sustainable improvement of the workforce, processes, and bottom line.
20 Qualities Of A Good Construction Project Manager
Hiring a construction project manager is no easy task. There are a lot of different characteristics that you want your construction project manager to have. At DKB we know that it is tough to find a great leader on a construction site.
Here are eight qualities of a good project manager for your construction site.
1. Team Work
Being in charge can make it difficult to work with the rest of the team as an equal. However, it is important that construction project managers can join in on big projects when the team needs some help. A project manager that is approachable and friendly with employees is likely to try to keep those employees happy.
Morale on the job site can also be hard to maintain. When the boss is a team player, it can help keep everyone happy and provide an environment that allows for open communication.
2. Organizational Skills
Project plans are crucial in ensuring that projects go off without a hitch. A construction project manager should have everything organized and detailed in a manner that prevents hiccups in the project. An organized boss will be better able to make changes in budget, resources, or deadlines should they arise.
A good project manager needs to reassess projects from time to time to prioritize each step of the process.
3. Effective and Efficient Communication Skills
Communication is vital to all types of business, but when your managers can’t effectively communicate with employees, it is going to be a lot harder to get things done. Construction projects require accuracy, so it is important that project managers are able to clearly communicate what needs to be done and when. Communication skills need to include both verbal and written.
4. Ability to Delegate Tasks
Delegating tasks is key to being a successful manager. Most tasks will require numerous team members, so managers need to be able to assign tasks to different employees. A good manager will be able to pick the most skilled workers for the job. However, a successful construction project manager won’t micromanage the workers that he or she assigns to each task.
5. Ability to Stay Calm Under Pressure
Construction can be a stressful profession, and being a manager amplifies that stress. When something stressful occurs, your project manager needs to stay calm and focused. Understanding that challenges will arise is just part of the equation. Knowing how to deal with those problems is going to determine whether or not a project manager is successful.
6. Problem – Solving Skills
Problems are bound to arise during the course of a project. You need a project manager that can look at a problem and adapt quickly. When an obstacle arises, your manager needs to be able to quickly find solutions and implement them without compromising the integrity and specifics of the project.
Being speedy about finding a solution can save a lot of time and money on a project. It is important to avoid as many delays as possible, and solving problems quickly is just one way to reduce the extra amount of time spent on the same project.
Not everything will go according to plan 100 percent of the time. A manager needs to be able to quickly adapt to all situations. As projects start to pile up with various changes, you will want a manager who can handle a lot of different changes all at once. Then, the manager needs to be able to communicate all of the changes to the team to prevent any delays or errors on the projects.
If your project manager isn’t flexible, you might notice that your team starts to express some confusion about what they need to be working on.
8. Ability to Prioritize
There are so many different aspects of just one construction project, which means that construction project managers need to be able to prioritize what tasks need to be completed first. Prioritization becomes incredibly important when changes are made to the project.
All of these traits make for a great construction project manager. If you can find someone with these qualities and all of the skills and experience you need for the job, you are likely to end up with one great project manager.
The construction project manager must acquire the ability to guide and motivate his teammates. This capacity, named leadership, differs from one project manager to another. For some, it shows as a firm hand, a directive style. For others, it shows as someone that brings people together by creating links between team members. Regardless of their leadership style, construction project managers must demonstrate their ability to create an environment of trust.
Honesty is not a quality to be neglected in a construction project manager. Indeed, when the latter has the duty to announce bad news to clients or teammates, honesty is the best way to go. Even if those who are listening would prefer to hear something else, this direct attitude pays off in the long run. Among other things, it saves time and goes into solution mode immediately rather than allowing the situation to deteriorate slowly.
It is not enough, to be honest with others. You must also be honest with yourself. In this matter, there is no room for pretension! A construction project manager knows his strengths and weaknesses. If he accepts the right to make mistakes in his teammates, he also accepts the right to be wrong and to start over. He recognizes his fallibility and does not stop questioning himself. This quality is also necessary for the application of the following qualities.
12. Willing to learn
Finally, the last and not least quality sought is to have a thirst for continuous learning. Since the construction project manager does not live in the past, he constantly seeks to improve his skills to guide his teammates better. Always with the aim of becoming a better project manager, he is also committed to mastering new tools or new management methods. Once these learnings are integrated into his workplace, he continues his quest for perfection.
Thanks to these qualities, a construction project manager will be able more easily to carry out the works at the building sites. Otherwise, he knows how to spot errors and improve so that they do not happen again.
13. Bottom – Line Oriented
As a wise man once said, the best way to achieve success within an organization is to align your own goals with the goals and objectives of the organization to which you belong.
For the best project managers, this means focusing on the most important indicators of project success:
- Was the project completed on time?
- Was the project completed on budget?
- Was the project profitable for the company?
If a project manager demonstrates great soft skills but fails to deliver tangible results, it is impossible to say that they are reaching their potential. Good project managers understand that success means delivering results and that skills like problem-solving, communication and teamwork are tools that they can use to achieve the results they want.
Accountability is an important concept for every project manager to understand – it can make the difference between routinely finishing projects on time and consistently struggling to meet project deadlines.
Not only are effective project managers accountable for their actions and results, they also know how to hold others accountable for their contributions, work ethic and attention to detail. This creates a project culture where excellence is expected, deadlines are respected and things tend to get done on time.
Holding staff and team members accountable for their performance begins with setting expectations. The most important set of expectations that project managers use is the project schedule, which essentially contains job and work expectations for everyone who works on the project. A good project manager holds every person accountable for doing their part on schedule, which in turn ensures that the project finishes on time.
15. A Good Project Manager Gives Credit to Others
If you’re a sports fan, think about what it’s like watching the manager of your favorite team at the press conference after the game. Most of the time, they take a highly formulaic approach to how they address the media. If the team won, the manager gives them all the credit, praises the performance, and congratulates the team on a job well done. If the team lost, the manager takes ownership of the loss himself, blames his own strategic preparation, or if he’s lucky, scapegoats the referee.
Good project managers don’t place the blame on outside circumstances when things don’t go their way, but they do share credit with their team members and sing their praises when a project is completed successfully. Good project managers know that giving credit to team members conveys a sense of appreciation and fulfillment that raises their job satisfaction, makes them easier to retain, and improves working relationships for the future. A good project manager sees the long-term value in recognizing contributions from others, with the understanding that their own achievements will be noticed by the people that matter.
However you slice it, it’s imperative for project managers in the construction business to develop industry knowledge alongside their business knowledge in order to succeed. One of the key aspects of the project management role is the combined understanding of business and project objectives. Project managers who know little about the industry in which they operate find themselves relying on others for crucial input on how to solve problems – they lack the technical understanding to work through the problem on their own.
Project managers can benefit from specializing in managing a specific type of construction project, increasing their familiarity with projects of a certain type and giving them more insight into the associated construction techniques. Good project managers also spend time researching best practices and improving their own methodologies for getting things done.
17. A Good Project Manager Sees the Big Picture
Construction projects are complex from beginning to end, and good project managers understand the need to position themselves at the center of that complexity in order to see the big picture. Consider a municipal works project to construct a bridge – there are construction requirements for the bridge that are necessary to make it safe and effective for operation, there are deadlines that must be met to keep other infrastructure projects on schedule and there are also business needs for the construction company – to meet quarterly revenue projections, to make a profit, etc.
A good project manager operates at the highest level of oversight with respect to the project, but they see the connections between the stakeholders and understand the broad implications of even the smallest decision on the job site. The contractor might say “Can we use these cheaper screws?” and it’s the project manager’s job to understand how that impacts long-term liability, job profitability and how it meshes with the engineering requirements. Good project managers see the big consequences that small decisions can have.
18. A Good Project Manager Learns from Their Mistakes
Good project managers may jump quickly from one project to the next, seeking to maximize their organizational impact and thrive under the pressure to perform. At the same time, the best project managers take time to reflect on their performance in past projects, evaluate themselves, and look for opportunities to learn from their mistakes.
Good project managers reflect on the challenges they faced and ask themselves the tough questions:
- What could I have done to make this project more profitable?
- Did I handle that discussion the right way? Did I achieve the desired outcome? What could I have done differently?
- How would I rate my response to the delays on the last project? What would I do differently next time?
- What feedback would I give myself on my own performance?
- What contingency plans should I develop for my next project to help avoid delays?
19. A Good Project Manager Demonstrates Integrity
The concept of integrity covers many aspects that are crucial to the project manager role. Integrity means reliability – good project managers can be trusted by everyone around them to keep their word and deliver on their obligations. That means that construction companies can trust them to align with the goals of the organization and focus on delivering results on time and on budget. It also means that their colleagues can trust them to keep commitments, meet deadlines and follow up when required. It also means that project owners can count on them to communicate in a timely fashion about anything important to the project.
Good project managers understand that keeping their word and demonstrating follow-through are the best ways to build trust and maintain strong working relationships and an atmosphere of respect with colleagues.
20. A Good Project Manager is Continuously Improving
Everyone in society either has a “fixed mentality” or a “growth mentality”. Those with a fixed mentality believe that they simply are the way that they are, and that change is difficult or impossible. In contrast, good project managers maintain a growth mindset at all times. They understand that they are not perfect, that they will make mistakes, and that sometimes things will go wrong. At the same time, they realize that they are qualified and worthy of success and that they can actually learn from their mistakes and do better next time. This understanding gives them the mental strength to cope with the stress and pressure of a job that demands results.
Good project managers value continuous improvement, not just for themselves, but for the organization. Good project managers drive organizational improvements by innovating best practices, implementing new tools to increase efficiency, and regularly setting goals to improve results.