How To Manage a Construction Project
To manage a construction project effectively, you must ensure that from the start, the planning and scoping process is done correctly.
This means putting enough time and resources into cost estimating, site analysis, plan reviews, hiring and vetting of contractors, and establishing key project benchmarks.
Construction project management is the process of managing the entire scope of the construction project from start-to-finish.
From the initial planning, cost estimating, resource planning, review of plans and permits, sourcing contractors and ultimately ensuring the successful completion of the construction project.
Because construction project management has such a broad scope, it is important that you work with a range of construction professionals to ensure that every aspect of the project is accounted and planned for.
This means working with a company such as Project Cost Solutions to ensure that your construction project is vetted and reviewed for:
- Scope Definition: make sure your project goals are quantified from day one.
- Budget Definition: track and measure your probable cost against performance.
- Planning & Scheduling: make sure your project is within scope and planned to ensure it is completed on-budget.
- Validation & Success: have confidence that proper review and planning has been done to minimize risk.
It is key that through-out the lifecycle of your construction project, your construction project management team is skilled in four key areas:
- Adjusting and Reviewing
Good construction project management happens when everyone involved knows the importance of their individual roles and how they contribute to the overall success of the project. When one part of the project begins to fail, it is very hard to overcome these shortcomings while still delivering an on-time, on-budget, within scope, and high-quality end result.
What Are the Phases of Construction Project Management?
There are 10 phases to effective construction project management. Because construction project management has such a broad scope, it helps to work within very narrow and focused phases:
- Feasibility Review
A project feasibility report must be completed before any planning or deep scoping is done. The feasibility report should include key project details including cost estimation, all deliverables and benchmarks, a timeline for each aspect of the project, the resources (materials and people) available, and the scope of the project.
Only once the feasibility report has been reviewed, updated, and approved – can the planning start. Each separate phase of the construction must be planned. This includes allocating budget, materials, people, reviewing plans, ensuring permits are acquired, and every task is accounted for. This planning phase is critical in identifying areas of weakness in the construction project – allowing for adjustments to be made before construction begins.
- Project Implementation
This is when things get real. Project implementation is when the physical work on the construction project begins. It’s critical that this phase of the project is not rushed into. Once the physical project implementation starts, it is very hard to make adjustments while still remaining within scope, on-budget, and on-time.
The following 6 phases of construction project management are key to ensuring that the implementation phase is a success.
- Time Management
Each individual manager overseeing the various aspects of construction is responsible for time management. Each manager should have their own individual schedule which when followed, ensures successful project completion. As soon as there is time slippage, it’s critical that the construction project management team reviews the situation and makes the necessary adjustments to get to successful project completion.
- Cost Management
The huge benefit of cost estimation is that it helps your construction management team create a clear and workable budget. Every aspect of the project should be accounted for, with adequate budget allocated to unexpected expenses (including material and human resources). Upon completion of each construction task, the budget worksheets should be updated to reflect the actual task cost.
- Quality Management
There should be people on your construction team who are responsible for the quality and workmanship of every construction task. Errors in quality have huge trickle-down impacts, resulting in cost overruns, slow-downs, and in unfortunate situations – construction disasters. Your management team must adhere to industry standards and procedures to ensure the quality and safety of your project. There is no room for cutting corners in construction management.
- Change Management
Slow-downs are going to happen, schedules will slip, materials won’t be available, people will get sick, and the weather can be a problem. This is why it’s vital you have a team who can effectively manage and adapt to change. Make sure your management team has the skills and experience to work-around and adjust to the unexpected.
- Risk Management
Above all else, risks cannot be ignored. This is where communication and collaboration become so vital to project success. Any risks should be logged, reviewed, analyzed, and discussed. An experienced construction management team is able to mitigate risk before it happens.
- Maintaining Control
Project control maintenance involves keeping an overall eye on the costs, quality, resource management, timelines, and risks. When this is done from the start, it is much easier to know if the project is sticking to the schedules and plans made during the initial phases.
- Project Close-Out
This includes a final review of the entire project. A report is prepared that details the successes, failures, and scope of the project. All costs and resources are accounted for in this final report. As well, all final paperwork, permits, and payments should be completed.
How Does Cost Estimating Impact Construction Management?
Cost estimating can make or break construction management. Improper cost estimation can result in a poorly planned, budgeted, and scheduled construction project – resulting in failure.
A thorough cost estimation is fundamental to effective construction management. The cost estimating process helps your management team develop a project plan that is workable, manageable, on-budget, and within scope.
In fact, it is our belief at Project Cost Solutions, that cost overruns can be attributed to poor and faulty cost estimation. I’ve worked with too many clients who have suffered deep losses on their projects all due to ineffective cost estimation and validation.
A cost estimation delivers 5 key benefits to the construction management process:
- Clear Investment Direction: a cost estimate allows you to clearly understand project viability. With this information you can properly determine if this project is a sound investment.
- Option Review: it’s important that you review all of the available options and alternatives for the project: site, architect plans, vendors, scheduling, materials, etc. This ensures you’re making the best possible decision to support project success.
- Vendor and Contraction Validation: the cost estimate allows you to review and challenge the quotes provided to you by potential vendors and contractors.
- Budget Planning: the only way to prepare an accurate and workable budget is to clearly understand all costs associated with the project. To do this properly, you must work with professionals who have deep experience in cost estimation and cost engineering.
- Benchmark Definition: the only way to know if your project is on-time and within scope is with the adherence to clearly defined project benchmarks. Use these benchmarks to help you maintain project control and to help mitigate risk.
Cost overruns can be prevented. It all comes down to effective planning, estimating, scheduling, budgeting, and resource management.
About the author
Lee Thomas, MBA is the chairman and CEO of Project Cost Solutions. Lee has over 20 years of hands-on operational process experience under his belt. He is deeply committed to seeing your construction project succeed.