Running a construction project requires top managerial abilities. After all, you’re working with so many teams, the majority of which won’t even be under your direct control. There are so many factors to monitor and so many estimates to make. Therefore, it’s easy for one to lose track of what they’re doing.
Now, all of these come with experience, but every construction project manager has to start somewhere. So, what should you focus on before you overcome these initial challenges? Here are the top four aspects of the construction project that you should focus on.
Utilize Three-Points Estimating
The first thing you need to understand when managing construction projects is that there are not many ways for you to reliably predict the future. Therefore, you need to be ready for all the outcomes and have a couple of contingency plans ready to use.
One of the ways to prepare yourself, thus making your project more reliable, is to learn how to use a three-point estimation. Here, when making an estimate, you would try to guess which outcome is:
- Most likely
This requires a bit of imagination, seeing as how a pessimistic approach assumes that everything will go wrong. This means that you need to be able to visualize this worst-case scenario. Here, the materials that you get are not adequate. The subcontractors fail to fulfill their obligations, the machinery malfunctions, you get as many bad weather days as possible, etc. With the optimistic approach, it’s the exact opposite, while the most likely scenario is usually somewhere in between.
The benefits of three-point estimating are that they’re accurate, and they help curtail excessive optimism, which is a serious problem for project managers lacking experience. In the end, this type of estimate can even ensure superior teamwork on the project.
Once you plan all three of these outcomes, try to make a contingency plan. Naturally, you don’t need a contingency plan for the optimistic outcome, but the pessimistic (and even the most likely) will need some preparation.
One of the most popular project risk management techniques used for the three-point estimate is called triangular distribution. This method is ideal when you have limited information. On the other hand, if you have more information, you might want to go with a technique known as the beta version.
Improve Your Communication
When it comes to communication during a construction project, there are a couple of things you need to have in mind. First of all, there are too many individuals and agencies on site and the construction management needs to encompass them all. This means that there are a lot of instances where different entities will be in each other’s way. During construction projects, this is especially troublesome, seeing as how one team may have to move in right after the previous group has finished with their work.
The first thing you need to do is establish a communication chain of command. This will vastly improve the reporting system, seeing as how it will be clear to everyone who they have to talk to when they have a problem. For instance, a construction worker should talk to their foreman, the foreman to the general contractor, and a contractor to an architect.
This is also a way to improve mediation. If two contractor groups have a problem resolving an issue, they need to address this with the construction manager. However, an on-site issue cannot go as high, seeing as how the manager is both busy and lacks insight into what really transpired. So, these issues are something that a foreman should be able to handle on their own.
Having a clear line of communication is insanely important for the speed at which information travels, as well. Sure, it would be the fastest if everyone could talk to the person in charge directly. However, how many pieces of information can one process at the same time?
One last thing worth mentioning is the importance of establishing standard means of communication. Email, IM, and a video call are not the same.
Have Everything in Writing
In order to legally protect your project, you need to ensure that there’s a paper trail behind everything. Whenever there’s an order, it needs to be issued in written form. This way, it will be a lot easier to examine who made the wrong call, the one who issued the order, the one who misinterpreted it, or the one who turned a deaf ear to it.
Second, seeing as how you’ll be working with a lot of subcontractors, you make sure that there’s a contract signed with every one of them. For this to work, you need to have a legal team on your side, making these contracts and evaluating the contracts that you’re expected to sign. If there’s an ambiguity here, this might become a cause for a huge problem, yet, it’s easy to overlook it if you don’t have too much experience in the field.
Next, you need to keep receipts for everything that you pay for. Chances are that, upon arrival, you won’t have a chance to examine everything that has arrived. If a problem arises later, you need something to help you get a refund. Also, the investor will want to know where each dollar went.
Reports should be tended to so that you can track the progress and compare it to the progress on similar projects. This way, you can analyze the project and see how far your teams are from reaching their long-term goals. Sure, you can make a great project roadmap but analyzing these reports is probably the only way to track actual progress.
In the end, everyone’s roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined. Most importantly, this needs to be put in writing. After all, successful planning is always based on writing things down.
Focus on Quality Control (QC)
Perhaps the most important step in running a construction project is to ensure the highest possible quality of the end result. Naturally, this journey starts by getting the right team, but this is something that you can’t really be sure of until much later.
Before the project even starts, you need to establish some project standards. Remember that there are international, national, and even municipal building codes that you need to take into consideration. One of the most original ways to establish standards is to look for the latest lawsuits related to construction, study them, and try to figure out what caused the problem.
While auditing the project at the very end is quite effective, it’s by no means cost-effective. The earlier you spot the problem, the less costly (and time-consuming) it will be to fix it. So, you need to control the workflow by introducing a QC monitoring entity into the project.
One of the ways to ensure that these estimates are unbiased is to hire independent auditors. Having a third-party check for quality will increase the chance that you get reliable information.
Lastly, the use of technology in construction is criminally underused. There are all sorts of both hardware (sensors and digital measuring instruments) as well as software (3D modeling platforms) that will give you a much better insight than you expected.
Managing a project (regardless if it’s in construction or not) requires you to be able to foresee various bottlenecks. This means that you can make an estimate of what will become a problem in the future while there’s still time to prepare for it. All four above-listed tips help you out with this (in one way or another). This way, the resilience of your project will increase drastically.