Effective Project Management Practices in Construction

No matter which industry you work in, effective project management is essential to the success of your business. For construction projects, this is especially true. 

Construction projects are complex and highly dynamic. They require a high level of communication, collaboration and coordination. Effective construction project management ensures that all project stakeholders can work together smoothly to make sure projects are completed on time and within budget.

Of course, construction project management is easier said than done. Read on to learn more about the challenges of project management in construction and how you can overcome them with the right software.

What’s construction project management?

Construction project management is a specialized field that requires a unique set of skills and knowledge. It involves planning, coordinating, executing and supervising construction projects from start to finish. Additionally, it ensures that all safety and quality standards are met so the final product meets the scope requirements as shared in the project plans and specifications. 

Construction project management software is indispensable for the successful execution of building projects. It optimizes time, cost, quality, safety and communication to mitigate risk and ensure the completion of tasks in a timely fashion.

Common challenges in project management in construction

Construction project management has its challenges for general contractors.

1. Scope creep

Unclear goals and objectives due to poor design and engineering during preconstruction can interfere with your project planning. Scope creep is a pervasive issue in construction project management that can lead to unforeseen issues and otherwise unnecessary change orders. Unforeseen changes to the project scope can cause delays, incur extra costs and overburden resources. Estimators can utilize preconstruction functionality within a construction project management software. This helps them to call out any potential scope issues before construction starts, ensuring that changes caused by such issues in the project scope as defined in the plans and specifications are avoided during the construction phase.

Construction project managers must also identify potential risks associated with scope creep before they occur and take proactive steps to mitigate them. Scope creep can include:

  • Adding new or updated project scope items without proper planning
  • Making design changes during the construction phase and additional owner or architect requests without evaluating the impact on cost and schedule


2. Regulatory compliance

Ensuring and tracking compliance with local, state and federal regulations is essential for any business to operate legally and safely. This is particularly true for the construction industry. Staying up-to-date with the ever-changing construction and environmental regulations takes time and effort. Construction project managers must be aware of necessary permits and inspections for the type of work, environmental laws‌ and building codes for the work location. Permits must be applied for, tracked and shared with necessary project stakeholders. Inspections must be scheduled and corresponding paperwork must be tracked and shared. Ultimately, this ensures that the project team remains in compliance and is able to mitigate potential risks, like safety hazards.

3. Budget management

Estimating, budget management and controlling construction costs can be daunting tasks for construction estimators and project managers. 

Unplanned expenses can quickly add up and threaten the success and profitability of a project. 

Consider the following scenarios:

  • Increased labor costs and equipment rentals running longer than originally budgeted for due to delays caused by improper planning or unforeseen issues
  • Changes in project scope
  • Repairs and replacements required due to poor workmanship or miscommunication 
  • Market fluctuations impacting labor and material cost


However, despite these obstacles, projects can be completed on time and within budget with effective communication, planning, budget management and change management.

4. Schedule management

Timely completion of tasks and meeting deadlines are critical for any successful project. In construction, delays can cause significant budget and profitability impacts. Unfortunately, delays can occur due to various factors such as weather, permitting delays, labor or material shortages and design changes. Construction project managers need to understand these potential delays to plan the project schedule accordingly and minimize the chances of a delay, even when things go wrong. Effective schedule management and the ability to share schedule updates in real time with all affected parties is critical to maintaining deadlines and keeping construction moving forward.

5. Risk management

Project risk management involves identifying, assessing‌ and mitigating potential risks. That includes risk factors like accidents and safety issues, rework caused by miscommunication, cost overruns‌ and schedule delays. By doing so, project managers ensure their projects are completed on time, within budget‌ and with minimal risk. The goal is to protect the workers on the jobsite, while minimizing potential delays and financial risks to all project stakeholders. 

Effective project management practices with technology

When it comes to project management best practices, there are a few key things you should focus on. Effective project management practices are easier and better implemented with the use of the right construction project management tools and technology. 

1. Defined life cycle and milestones

Before a project begins, you must have a clearly defined list of deliverables, milestones‌ and phases of your project. Construction project management can have six phases in its lifecycle:

  1. Concept
  2. Preconstruction
  3. Project Execution
  4. Commissioning
  5. Occupancy
  6. Closeout

 

What matters most is that these stages are consistent with guided workflows and templates that can be used to create a methodology for later use. This will ensure that all projects have the same level of integrity moving forward.

2. Clear requirements and scope

Aligning on project requirements, goals‌ and scope can prevent things like scope creep. This should be finalized early on during your construction lifecycle, usually in the Concept phase. 

Real-time communication is critical to ensure that all stakeholders remain on the same page, a key part of maintaining stability in the scope. Using software that can promote and simplify collaboration can make this much more effective. 

3. Defined roles and systems

Construction teams are comprised of many stakeholders, including owners, general contractors, subcontractors, architects and engineers, material suppliers and others working together from design through closeout. With several stakeholders involved in various ways and at different times throughout the life of the project, defined roles and responsibilities are critical to ensure smooth execution. There must be a clear organizational structure for the project to hold everyone accountable for their respective duties. 

Construction project management software allows you to keep track of vendors, architects and engineers, subcontractors, specialty contractors, owners and other stakeholders working together. Tasks can be assigned and managed for better accountability and transparency.

4. Quality assurance

Quality assurance in the construction industry is heavily regulated. It involves the implementation of planned and systematic activities, such as inspections, audits‌ and reviews, to provide confidence in the quality of the output. Through these activities, organizations can ensure that their products or services meet specified standards and customer expectations. Quality assurance helps organizations improve their processes, reduce costs from rework or scrap and ultimately increase stakeholder satisfaction.

Keeping track of real-time data on construction sites can be difficult, but construction project management software can help your team to efficiently log daily activity, safety issues, inspections, deliveries and manage tasks and collaboration to prevent downtime.

5. Planned commitments

Planned commitments in construction project management provide a clear roadmap of objectives, timelines‌ and resources that need to be allocated. By establishing these commitments at the beginning of a project, construction teams can ensure they have the necessary resources and time to complete their work efficiently and effectively. 

These commitments should include:

  1. Scope and mission 
  2. Schedule: A detailed timeline for each task
  3. Budget: A financial breakdown of materials, labor, equipment, or anything needed for the project
  4. Personnel Management: This includes recruitment, bidding, selection, training‌ and delegation
  5. Evaluation and Control: This is a system to constantly evaluate the progress of a project
  6. Quality: This is the verification that everything meets performance expectations


7. Corrective action decisions

Corrective action decisions address any issues that arise during a project. This allows project managers to quickly and efficiently address any deviations from the original plan. This ultimately helps ensure the completion of projects on time and within budget. 

Project managers will likely need to adjust resources, schedules, budgets and project plans. Easy access to documents, plans and specifications, budgets, schedules and task management can help make all of these adjustments quicker and easier to complete and share with impacted stakeholders.

8. Escalation and issue management

Construction project management often requires escalation and issue management to handle conflicts or problems. This includes presenting the challenge to other stakeholders if it can’t be solved within the present setup. 

 Requests for Information (RFIs) can be used to clarify project specifications, plans, design conflicts and other incomplete or inconsistent information. 

Issue management keeps things moving, promotes effective communication and minimizes any risks. It’s a process of addressing concerns and finding suitable solutions for them. Punch lists can address urgent tasks that need to be completed so other scheduled work can move forward or before the construction project is finalized and turned over to the owner.

Open communication and a documented risk management plan will help everyone understand how to proceed with contingency plans should an issue arise. Your construction project management software should remove bottlenecks that may occur when working with different departments and stakeholders to approve budgets, resources, tasks and vendor payments, to name a few.

9. Work authorization and change order management

Construction project management software should allow you to track and manage changes to the project scope, schedule‌ and resources to ensure that the project remains on track and within budget. It should provide a way to document owner changes to the project and track subcontract changes associated with those to keep everyone accountable and to mitigate risk. 

Change management is a system for evaluating, approving‌ and executing changes to minimize disruptions to a project’s timeline, budget and objectives. An effective change management system that can document change orders, issues and punch lists makes it easier for everyone to understand what needs to be done and when.

Successful implementation of effective project management practices

The solution for effective construction project management is having a reliable technology partner. RedTeam Go gives you the agility and flexibility of having access to all of your project documents, financials and project progress from anywhere in the world. Real-time data about your construction project can be viewed, shared‌ and collaborated on for smooth operation. 

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