Building construction is more than a monetary investment. It is a reflection of collaborative efforts from the clients, contractors, and other stakeholders. In this way, an ideal building requires effective construction project management.
However, dealing with construction projects is a daunting task. It requires pro-active thinking, active planning, and vigilant supervision, besides just vision and expertise. The contractors should pay attention to detail while bidding on a construction project as little things can get messed up, leading to disruption and disputes.
Are you going to enter the construction industry? Or already have extensive experience? No matter what, effective management of the project is an art based on critical skills. This guide aims to provide you a detailed guide for essential concepts of project management in construction. Surely, you will admire reading the post!
What is Construction Project Management (CPM)?
In simplest words, project management in construction is referred to the art of directing and regulating material and human resources throughout the project life cycle using different management tools and techniques. It includes comprehensive planning, cooperation, coordination, regulation, and control of the project activities for on-time completion.
The chief objective of the CPM is to meet the requirements of clients while accomplishing functionally vibrant and money-wise optimal projects. The construction industry consists of five significant sectors: civil, environmental, commercial, industrial, and residential.
Differences Between Project Management and Construction Management
Effective management of the project applies to all these sectors without any difference. Many people misunderstand construction management with the construction project management (CPM). It is imperative to understand that CPM is a broader term comprising all essential project activities from administration to operations. In comparison, construction management deals with the operational management of the project in the construction sector.
Additionally, the construction managers and project managers hold the rights and responsibilities at every project phase. It distinguishes the role of professionals and experts for comprehensive construction project management.
History and Significance of Project Management in Construction
Magnificent malls and skyscrapers tell the untold history of construction management. Initially, the architects were admired for creating complicated building structures where the role of project managers and contractors was overlooked. You surely have heard about the architects of the aqueducts of Rome and the Great Pyramids of Egypt. In fact, effective management had helped in building such masterpieces.
The present-day construction industry is the outcome of rigorous advancement in the field of management. It is evident from the fact that more than 7 million roles of project managers are added to the construction industry between the years 2010 – 2020.
A recent survey conducted by Autodesk & Dodge Data reported that around 68% of survey participants consider poor schedule management the most critical factor of low labor productivity. It leads to project underperformance. Due to this, it is safe to say that effective management is crucial for on-time project delivery.
Principles of Construction Project Management
There is no denying that the management of construction projects is a complicated process of technical and non-technical activities. During this period, the contractors deal with several things based on fundamental principles. Let’s consider the basics of construction project management in a bit detail as given:
1) Goals and objectives of the project
The goals and objectives deal with the question, “what’s required to be done?” It gives a good start for initiating the project. It is imperative to note that defining project goals is essential to get an overall structure of the project. The plan leads to the work scenarios under the provision of certain resources for construction.
2) Structure of the project
Generally, the management of a project revolves around three elements, including resources, time, and quality. Contractors must utilize these parameters by understanding the project structure in detail for optimal management.
3) Project order and timeline
It deals with the overall schedule of the project designs before the start of construction. For this, the graphical representation of milestones is used to stay aligned with the timeline. Contractors usually rely on flow chart diagrams to provide starting, middle, and ending points for defining sub-goals and ultimate goals.
4) Definition phase
The definition stage of the project is critical for the success of construction projects. It is because many projects get delayed or disrupted if the project is not defined clearly. The primary reason is that the project definition involves the whole team for improved productivity and commitment.
5) Transparency throughout the project
Construction projects require transparency in every process, including the project structure, flowcharts, definition, milestone creation, and other management processes. Due to this reason, transparency is considered one of the essential activities in construction project management. It helps in eliminating the risks of claims in construction by keeping everything clear among the contracting parties.
6) Risk’s assessment and recognition
Nothing is free of risks in this world. The construction projects have to experience ups and downs at some point due to the involvement of critical internal and external risks. It can impact the project adversely. Therefore, the managers have to ensure adequate assessment and recognition of risks for optimal project management.
7) Managing disturbances and disputes
No one has the ultimate capacity to assess all risks associated with construction projects. So, the probability of disturbances always remains present in the projects. If any disruption occurs, the project managers should try to resolve the issues as earliest as possible. If you don’t have the visionary skills of dispute management, you can rely on construction consultants to evaluate the situation to offer a quick solution. It will help in nipping the dispute in the bud.
Business Models for Managing Construction Projects
Essentially, project management is the systematic approach towards accomplishing all processes for successful delivery. The bidding process is similar in every project regardless of its nature, size, and type. Based on this concept, the models for construction project management are as given below:
a) Design-Bid-Build Contracts
This business model for construction project management enables the owners to hire a contractor once the project design is created and approved by the authorities. It is the most popular model for handling projects without the risks of claims.
b) Design-Build Contracts
Contrary to the design-bid-build approach, this model enables the owners to hand over the whole project to the contractors for A to Z every activity. So, the contracting party is responsible for accomplishing the processes from scratch until completing the project. This business model speeds up the construction process for in-time delivery.
Stages/Phases of Construction Project Management
Project management is the set of rules and skills for handling complicated project structures in construction. The project life cycle in the construction sector begins with bidding, and then owners and potential contractors finalize the contract.
However, there is no single organizational structure that can be deployed to ensure successful projects. It means that construction project management is a dynamic approach based on the following stages or phases:
1) Project design phase
It is the first and foremost important stage of the construction project. The design phase starts once the contract is signed between the clients and bidders. At this point, the contractors use the business models for project management to define a working track based on design-bid contracts or design-build contract models.
The design stage of the project management incorporates all essential activities for the initial assessment and feasibility of the projects. The process encompasses the primary requirements of human resources and materials for smooth working and successful project completion.
2) Pre-construction phase
It is when the contractors have completed the bidding process, and the client has finalized the contractor. The contractor collaborates with the other team members, including project managers, administrators, sub-contractors, and other stakeholders. At this stage, construction teams work to prepare the site for construction, along with other tangible activities.
3) Procurement phase
At this phase, the project teams acquire the required materials and hire labor and other staff for disturbance-free working. In simple words, the procurement stage is related to purchasing project materials, which depends on the availability of funds. The contractors handling mega commercial projects acquire the equipment from third-party facilitators and labor providers to ensure the quality and consistency of supplies.
4) Construction phase
The project managers organize frequent meetings to kick off the construction. The meet-up sessions help foster communication among the material suppliers, equipment vendors, and subcontractors to initiate the construction process. At this point, the contractors create materials handling policies, define storage areas, and design safety programs for improved working.
5) Commissioning phase
The commission phase starts after the completion of the construction phase. It has two primary parts. Firstly, the teams test the equipment for proper working to eliminate the risks. Secondly, the employees are trained for operations and maintenance of the newly constructed building.
6) Owner occupancy phase
It is the phase when the project is delivered to the owners, and the warranty period starts. It is a transitional stage for managing the post-completion activities related to the management of equipment and materials. The construction quality must meet the expectation mentioned in the agreement documents. The contractors have to ensure two types of warranties, such as the contractual and established by the laws.
7) Project closeout phase
It is the final stage of construction project management. The contractors are responsible for accomplishing the remaining obligations as per the contract. It includes a list of activities, such as a post-project completion review. The final documentation consists of the project completion report and legal confirmation papers.
An Essential Construction Project Management Checklist To Follow
Daily minoring of activities and progress is crucial in the construction industry to ensure the project is a success and help save lives by improving workplace safety. A construction project management checklist can help managers better control the worksite and make sure the whole process runs smoothly.
After the bidding process and the contract have been signed, real work on the project manager’s side gets started. Here is an essential checklist for small to large-scale construction projects to ensure everything goes smoothly and the project is successfully delivered.
The first step is to make sure the construction file covers the project’s purpose and includes all related documents, including a master plan, blueprints, etc. Make sure the scope of the project is clearly defined and educated to all the relevant stakeholders. A good project file should include the following points:
- All the stakeholders and clients have agreed to the project terms.
- The work needed on the project is listed with clear goals and tasks, including all the required materials.
- All project requirements, including the budget, timeframe, and the project team, are ready for collection.
- All possible constraints and conditions that can impact the work have been clearly defined.
This step makes sure that the procurement method is selected and clearly defined. For example, will the project be a lump sum, cost-plus-fee, unit price, or guaranteed maximum price? Apart from the budget and payment methods, this part ensures that every contract is executed correctly and all the important architectural, engineering documents are approved.
Following are some of the fundamental points covered in this step:
- Selection of required construction consultants, including architects and engineers.
- Selection of special advisors for construction, including a complete project team.
- Execution of contracts between clients and contractors/suppliers.
- Make sure all project payments to contractors are processed.
- Ensure that all required changes in terms of materials and timing of services are incorporated into the project program.
- All construction site inspection criteria are met, and contractors are following instructions given to them after the site meeting.
- To make sure the project handover process and completion are managed well.
- Effective resolution of any project dispute or contract default.
3) Cost Estimation:
This step includes the estimation of costs and budget reviews throughout the project. This is the most crucial step in construction project management, as cost overruns are a norm in the industry. Therefore, we recommend getting help from a construction management expert to get a correct approximation of the total cost of a project.
This step must incorporate the following points:
- Proper management of project costs and total budget.
- Making sure all the costs have been discussed with relevant stakeholders and clients.
- Incorporating time and cost variations and time extension.
- Making sure contract payments are processed on time to all the contractors and suppliers.
- Look for strategies to maintain the budget of the project due to certain cost pressures and externalities.
4) Quality Check:
In this step, the project manager should ensure that all the relevant parties, including contractors and subcontractors, understand the quality standards that one must follow during construction. After creating an understanding, ensure these quality standards are being followed to avoid future performance issues.
We recommend getting the assistance of a construction quality expert to ensure your team is on track and that all the quality standards are being followed.
5) Risk Assessment:
There are many risks associated with the construction work, so make sure you have identified all the possible risk areas and have devised plans to address them in the future. You can also get help from construction claims consultants to help you solve construction claims, payment issues, and quality assurance, etc.
In this step, the project manager has to ensure that each project team has established a timeline in which each activity is strategically identified. Without a proper timeline, your project can run into unnecessary delays resulting in cost overruns. To ensure everything is done on time, each party should submit their timelines at the beginning of the construction work.
Make sure it includes the following points:
- Each party has made its clear timeline and project program.
- Scheduled monitoring and updating of the program.
- Making sure there is a timely provision of material supply without any disruption or delay.
- In case of a delay, make sure all parties are maintaining the project program timeline. If not, then make sure to consult with a delay expert to resolve issues relating to the delay of the project.
Open communication is essential in the construction industry to avoid any project delays. Project managers need to conduct regular meetings with the stakeholders and contractors to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding the construction work. An open communication channel is also important to ensure any change in the original project plan is communicated on time to all the relevant parties.
In this step, make sure to cover all the following points:
- Make sure there is a schedule for meetings and reporting processes throughout the construction of the project.
- Make sure all the progress reports, including overall project progress and costs, are periodically prepared.
- All the team members (contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, supervisors) understand their roles to ensure ongoing commitment.
- Making sure all the meetings and agendas are communicated to the relevant stakeholders.
- All the government and statutory laws are followed, and approvals are checked to avoid penalties and hefty fines.
The above construction project management checklist can help construction managers and contractors make their work more efficient and improve workplace quality and safety. To help you better control the project, consult with a project management expert to help you make a checklist for your project.
Ensure Effective Project Management for Success in Construction!
Generally, people consider managing a project as simple as supervision. But it is much more than monitoring processes. In fact, project management is a comprehensive approach that helps the project managers to work from scratch to meet clients’ requirements with utmost compactness.
It is imperative to note that construction project managers worldwide have to deal with project risks every year. It requires wise distribution of project resources while assessing the risks for optimal management. In this regard, the construction project management tools and techniques are used to plan, organize, and execute the processes for delivering projects on time within the estimated budget.
Don’t forget to acquire construction project management consultancy for staying on the right track of success.
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