Construction Project Management: A Complete Guide

“Construction industries have a poor reputation in terms of finishing projects on budget. Nine out of ten projects normally experience cost overrun.”

International Journal of Innovation, Management, and Technology

Many factors contribute to the observation mentioned above. Some of these factors are frequent design changes, unreliable contractor financing, payment delays, poor planning, etc. These aspects lead to discrepancies in planning and, eventually, mismanagement of the timeline that leads to inefficient results.

Construction projects are highly structured ventures, be it building a shopping mall or a single-dwelling residence. They have a lot of things going on at the same time and need to coordinate precisely. Just like many other projects, construction project management has various phases. The work divides into designing, planning, mapping, and finally, constructing. Each of these processes is complicated in itself, and concerning the entire project becomes complex exponentially.

The management of construction projects requires proper knowledge of the objectives, constraints, timelines, and so on. Handling these many workflows and timelines, as mentioned above, surely can get tricky to implement. Hence, construction project management software comes into the picture. But how to identify a robust construction project management software? Is the current popular software dynamic enough to carry the weight of a construction project? Keeping all these questions in mind, we bring you an exhaustive guide to construction project management. We will cover the following:

What is Construction Project Management?

In brief, construction project management is, i.e., breaking the entire construction project into subsections to manage the entire project efficiently. Modern project management is all about managing resources throughout the lifecycle of a project by using various methods and tools. It enables you to control the scope, cost, time, and quality of your project.

Project managers need to consider a large variety of constraints specific to the design of construction projects. From architecture to engineering to public work to city planning, construction project management certainly intersects at a variety of disciplines during its lifecycle.

Foundation of Construction Management

Modern management practices now use various techniques which were once limited to only certain disciplines. For example, computer-based information systems are now common tools for general management.

Construction project management includes a set of objectives that project managers need to accomplish. They can do this by implementing a series of operations subject to timeline and resource constraints. There may arise potential conflicts between the stated objectives concerning the scope and financial resources. These conflicts need to resolve at the onset of a project by making necessary trade-offs. Following are some of the functions of construction project management:

  • Project objective specifications and plans include delineating budget, scheduling, setting performance requirements, and selecting project participants.
  • Analysis of resource utilization through procurement of labor, materials, and equipment and scheduling the timeline and plan accordingly.
  • Running operations and implementing proper coordination and control of various aspects like design, architect, planning, cost estimation, contracting, and lastly construction in the entire process.
  • Making sure that you develop effective communications and processes to resolve conflicts among the various participants.

The 4 Key Fundamentals of Construction Project Management

Construction managers require a broad variety of skills along with the ability to indulge with a diverse range of subordinates and agencies. Following are the four fundamental principles of project management that every construction project manager must follow:

I. Commence and Initiate the Project

The first step is to determine if the project is even feasible to work upon or not. How do you figure this out? You need to plan the goals, timeline, and capital to make sure that your project finishes within those constraints. You need to identify potential risks and issues that you might face during the execution. Managers need to optimize the idea before they start defining the timeline and workflow.

II. Define and Plan the Project

With due diligence, the next step would be to outline the tasks within a timeline. The managers need to plan the project milestones and budget to allocate resources accordingly. You need to be transparent in your plans to keep everyone involved. All the team members must be on the same page and understand the project’s life cycle.

You need to plan all details including estimate cost, scope, duration, quality, and resources that you’re going to use in the project. To conceptualize the best team for the project, you need to simultaneously work on all the factors mentioned above. Finally, you need to assemble your resources accordingly.

III. Launch the Project

The next step is the execution of the said project - taking a plan and implementing it. Along with all the changes and issues that can arise during the process, whatever you promise must come through. That too in the timeframe you noted and planned. Now you must deal with the stakeholders, customers, and teams.

You will have to work on the workload and task management continuously. Resource allocation can get trickier once the execution begins. You will be setting up meetings and frequently reporting throughout this stage. Manually handling everything may lead to a mess, and it might lead to inefficiency. This is where managers usually take the help of technology. A construction project management tool might help you perform better.

IV. Track Project Performance

To know the progress of your project, you need to have a way to monitor it. Analytics must have its separate stage in your construction management plan. Construction managers want to have a way to note the progress. They need to set up key performance indicators for cost, time, and quality.

More or less, if you can stay on top of these figures, it reduces the potential hindrances and makes your project workflow efficient. Therefore, it is important to stay flexible and communicative throughout. You can use multiple construction management software to ensure that everything is moving according to your plan.

What do Construction Project Managers do?

According to the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), construction managers look after the construction of a project, be it a building, a bridge, an airport, sports arena, or any other structure. Everything from the beginning i.e the pre-designing phase to the end is their responsibility.

Construction managers must possess the soft skills for any project’s success. They require in-depth knowledge and experience in the building processes. Generally speaking, some of the tasks that a construction manager might handle include:

  • Reviewing design documents
  • Coordination of onsite facilities
  • Record keeping
  • Contract administration
  • Cost management
  • Schedule maintenance
  • Quality monitoring

While construction managers usually do not engage in the actual construction steps themselves, they are responsibleforo delivering the project within a guaranteed time and capital. Following are some common challenges faced by construction project managers.

Common Challenges Faced by Construction Project Managers

Every construction project poses unique challenges. This is why construction managers have distinct roles varying from project to project. Some projects need more tactical expertise, whereas some require an in-depth understanding of the business and planning. However, some challenges remain the same across projects:

Common_Challenges_Faced_by_Construction_Project_Managers

Challenges faced by Construction Project Managers

I. Objectives Defined Poorly

The most common problem with construction project management revolves around poorly designed objectives and clarity of things. Many project managers struggle with a lack of well-defined goals. Lack of clarity in goals and objectives leads to ineffectiveness in the direction of the project. It is similar to going on a road trip with no destination in mind. You’ll end up wasting time and fuel, ending up in the middle of nowhere.

The end goal is obviously completing the project. But each sub-section of the project may have non-standard objectives. Some sub-sections may need timeline-related prioritization and some pertaining to the final delivery of the project. These goals define the basis of the decision-making structure. The task designation throughout the project will also depend on this.

Project managers can prevent this from happening by asking the right questions from the client or contractor. They can make sure they agree upon the goals right from the outset. While deciding on a plan, they can start by asking relevant and detailed questions. They can also take the help of the resources data to define a timeline and assign capital accordingly.

Data Mismanagement

Data mismanagement can lead to numerous sources of error. While numerical values are often reported to the nearest cent, it becomes rare that the actual values are known. Living with uncertainty is an inescapable situation. A prudent construction manager must have an understanding of the uncertainties in information. This way, they can reduce the possibility of drawing misleading conclusions.

Example:

Consider the estimates of completed work. Every construction manager is familiar with the situations where the final delivery of a task may face some delay. It is common that unforeseen problems occur due to data mismanagement.

If the value of ensuring accuracy is low or nonexistent, it may create misunderstanding. Managers can save this from happening by using a system to consolidate and manage all their data. This may save many calculative errors.

II. Budget Constraints

It is common in the construction sector that the budget surpasses way more than the original plan. It is the job of the construction project manager to analyze and set a reasonable expectation for cost-overrun. They have to make sure that they make adjustments to mitigate and manage these gaps. Poor evaluation and analysis of requirements, lack of judgment, lack of proper oversight, or even a simple miscalculation in the entries can result in the project’s collapse.

The first step would be to ensure the delivery of the project resources. Making realistic cost estimates is important as well. It will help you plan the contingencies accurately. The budget should also consider factors that are outside a project manager’s control. Factors such as environmental considerations, resource availability, labor availability, shortages, and so on.

Finally, managers must keep reviewing and updating the project’s budget constantly to stay on track. When unplanned work or changes in plans creep into your workflow, the cost can go up and sometimes even out of control. However, with a proper construction management system in place, managers can manage these constraints in a better way.

III. Time Constraints

Many stakeholders consider difficulties in timeline management as the biggest issue. This potentially results in defective designs, high rates of accidents, and loss in revenue. The contractors may inadvertently cut corners to catch up on the missed deadline.

When they try to find and fix common defects, they may create more delay in the overall workflow. Managers also face struggles ensuring consistent communication with the finance departments due to scheduling errors. To address the requirements promptly requires tight correspondence between these departments. This can prevent the delay and prevent loss of revenue for the business.

For these reasons, construction project managers need to fix the loopholes in designing workflows to meet requirements. You must also take certain unforeseeable conditions like weather changes into consideration.

IV. Unrealistic Expectations

Construction project managers do face unrealistic expectations at times. Sometimes they’re given impossible deadlines and unreasonable requests to fulfill. These requests are some of the biggest morale and productivity killers in a project.

Sometimes the client, the consultant, and the board have unrealistic expectations from project managers. They would want to immediately put their ideas into action without analyzing the likes and possibilities of those ideas. This also stems from the competitiveness of the current construction industry. It drives the stakeholders to set unachievable rather than logical business requirements.

This is why project managers must possess soft skills and must be ready for such situations. They should be able to manage their superiors the way they manage their subordinates. By communicating the team’s feedback and analysis, they must be able to lead the clients and the project back on track.

V. Hazard management

The construction industry involves costly risks compared to other industries. Workers face on-site dangers and sometimes even loss of life. Hence, every manager must be ready with risk management plans. Managers should be proactive in identifying safety issues as much as possible. They must strive to achieve a construction project that finishes without any untoward incident.

You need to involve workers in the safety process to mitigate the on-field dangers. As a project manager, you must encourage them to report potential hazards. They must have site-specific safety management plans. It is also important to frame plans only pertaining to the project and not a general plan as the safety differs from project to project.

These are just some of the common challenges that managers face throughout construction projects. Project managers need to be proactive. And must look for solutions to issues before they impact the project’s success. Construction project management software helps managers address these problems effectively and efficiently. Let us have a look at what construction project management software is and how it helps construction managers.

Construction Project Management Software

Construction project management software helps you implement various operations through proper coordination and control of various aspects. It involves planning, designing, estimating, contracting, and constructing a project from its beginning to its end.

The features and functions of construction project management software include specifying plans, scope, budget, schedule, setting performance requirements, timelines, and project resources. When it comes to construction project management software, maximizing resource efficiency and following the timeline are the two most important and hardest to achieve goals.

Benefits of Construction Project Management Software

The construction project management software basically helps in timeline scheduling and overall project planning. This includes various types of schedules used in the construction industry to sequencing operations in construction projects. It encourages managers to practice effective use of schedules created with a work breakdown structure.

Construction Project Management Software

(Source)

The construction project management software helps in monitoring the overall cost control system. This helps in achieving the estimated profit on projects and predicts efficient results. It provides features from inception to project closeout. It lets the managers monitor various stages, including the procurement to design services and contractors, contract methods, and managing the construction contract process.

Must-have Features of Construction Project Management Software

Here are the most essential features the construction management software should include. These features collaborate to provide the most resilient functionality possible.

1. Task Management

An efficient task management system is the most basic requirement of construction management software. Companies and managers must be able to assign tasks to the people working on a particular project. They can add a timeline and work specifications to keep everyone on the same page.

2. Auto Scheduling

Most of the time, the project managers or supervisors are not able to micromanage and attend to every detail in a given project. Even a management team might face difficulty while planning resources, gathering teams, tracking progress, and rescheduling timelines.

A good project management software automates many of these tasks as the managers manage resources across multiple projects. Developing and updating project schedules gives clarity and ensures that the project is profitable.

3. Accounting

The expenditure and costs of these projects need to be closely monitored. Select a construction management software that lets you integrate and exchange accounting data with third-party tools and software. It should be able to aid project managers who have to oversee multiple projects at a time simultaneously.

A construction accounting program also needs to automate functions such as receivable accounts, payable amounts, work order entry, and payroll, to name a few—all these features, with the flexibility to adjust based on the client and job.

4. Team Collaboration

Select software that helps you improve collaboration. It is utterly important to keep all involved parties on the same page. Choose software that lets you integrate your CRM with the construction portal so that you can manage everything from a single interface.

Managers surely want software that can deliver all of the reports within a single interface. This eventually increases productivity in your workflows and timelines.

5. Resource Management

The resources of a construction company are far greater and its planning even more complex. This includes everything from the management of technology, construction equipment, transportation, building materials, and so on.

Good inventory management software features help you eliminate write-offs. It helps you perform quick inventory edits, find lost inventory faster, track assets on the job site, and assist managers. They ensure that you can perform these tasks efficiently and effectively distribute equipment and resources based on this inventory data.

6. Quality and Cost Management

All construction management software must set standard rates for different types of construction services that your company or firm provides. It must allow you to define the potential capital for each employee, manager, and supervisor. It should also be able to manage project timelines. It must empower you to produce actionable data to increase productivity.

7. Project documentation

Project documentation of construction projects is a crucial part. All information and data can produce more documents than the average company can handle manually. Hence, choose a portal that lets you manage these documents responsibly. The construction document management system should also integrate with other business software like spreadsheets.

8. Third-Party Tool Integration

While managing a construction project, you may require multiple third-party tools to perform various tasks. For example, an architect would need a design tool integration to make quick changes in the designs. You might also want to integrate various analytics tools, calendar tools as well as spreadsheets for documentation.

9. Identifying Trends: Custom Reports and Analytics

A good construction management software controls overall project data and lets you produce customized project analytics pertaining to your needs. It must let you collate, summarize and create reports as and how you want. Data reports can vary from budgetary to architectural services costs.

Project reporting software should produce real-time, accurate data reports and schedule automatic reports to all vital personnel. Also, select software that lets you export this data. It also needs to produce this data in an easy-to-understand format.

10. Mobile Responsive

Nowadays, businesses need construction management software that can work across desktop and mobile platforms. Hence your portal must be mobile-responsive so that your team members involved can access information from any time, anywhere in the world. Plus, accessing all the above-listed features on a mobile platform can help complete projects faster.

The Bottom Line

Web-based construction software is the preferred option. It facilitates project managers to manage everything from reviewing project specifications, equipment scheduling, worker scheduling, job progress, deadline changes, and managing resources. Construction management software helps project administrators make on-the-spot decisions faster.

Construction portals, without a doubt, endows many advantages to your construction business. Hence, it is beneficial for firms to adopt these portals for their construction business. You need to choose a construction website development service for this. A well-crafted construction management portal built by experts can bring lots of opportunities for your business.

CRMJetty’s construction project management software is a centralized solution that overcomes all the above-mentioned challenges. It caters to B2C and B2B businesses. Additionally, it helps you solve problems like scattered information, mismanaged task flow, inefficient communication, resources, and dispersed databases that seem to hinder your construction projects. Talk to our experts and find out more.

 

 
All product and company names are trademarks™, registered® or copyright© trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.