What is a Construction Project Management?The Ultimate Guide
Construction project management is a profession that touches every person on the planet at some point. While most individuals aren’t directly involved with the actual planning and execution of a construction project, everyone lives or works in a building or structure that has been a result of the process.
In fact, construction is a major wheel of the modern economy. Building and development touch nearly every business sector from financing all the way to real estate. Large and interwoven industries require project managers who are adept at navigating the intricacies of the field and can plan effectively. This is where construction project management comes in to play.
What is Construction Project Management?
In what may seem like an oversimplification of the definition, construction project management is just that: managing construction projects. But, while there are many similarities between construction project management and project management in countless other industries, there are also aspects of the process that are unique to construction.
Construction project management oversees the development of a building project from start to finish. These projects can be as minimalistic as a single family dwelling and as complex as a several acre shopping complex. Construction project management involves a physical site for the project to take place, a team that is largely centrally located, and countless regulations and agencies that help to govern the established guidance of construction.
Types of Construction Project Management
As is the case with most industries, construction has a wide variety of types. Broadly, they can be broken down into the following categories:
Residential ConstructionMost individuals are probably most familiar with residential construction which encompasses houses, apartment buildings, condos, townhouses and various other low-rise dwellings.
Commercial ConstructionOffice buildings, shopping centers, malls, banks, theaters, golf courses, and theaters all fall under the umbrella of commercial construction. Private industry buildings comprise this category.ny project portfolio manager.
Industrial ConstructionBuildings used for purposes of product production, energy, oil refinement, product storage, and seaports fall under the category of industrial construction.
Environmental ConstructionThese projects work for the betterment of the environment and include air quality facilities, solid waste management facilities, and water treatment plants.
Public/Institutional ConstructionGovernment and public entity needs are fulfilled with institutional construction. This includes schools, government offices, hospitals, public transportation hubs, libraries, museums, and military facilities.
Agricultural ConstructionBarns, fencing, silos, and water storage encompass agricultural construction projects.
Civil Infrastructure ConstructionCivil projects most often refer to infrastructure projects that are used in the public such as roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and dams.
Though there are a variety of construction project types, all of them share the same basic principals and stages in the project management process.
The Stages of Construction Project Management
The complicated process of construction project management can be divided into four stages. These stages are planning, procurement, pre-construction, and construction.
The first stage, as with most every project, is planning. In this stage, stakeholders and the project manager agree on a scope and chart out what steps need to be taken to get there. This typically involves an onsite visit, the development of schematics, and establishing a budget. This will most likely be the least time consuming and least expensive of the phases however it will be prove to be one of the most important phases as the careful planning and budgeting will hopefully yield an efficient and cost effective result.
With a plan on paper and a budget established, the next step is to procure the necessary resources for the construction project. This can include construction equipment, materials for building, and crew members to staff the project. In this phase, particular attention should be paid to the budget since this is where project spending can go off course. Choosing materials and crew carefully during this step can minimize costly errors down the line.
The final stage before actual construction begins is the pre-construction phase. At this point, resources are lined up and the plan is complete. Construction documents are prepared and the construction project manager uses this time to align the stakeholders and communicate where the team is with the project.
The implementation phase of the construction project plan is the final step. This is where the rubber meets the road. This phase represents what will likely be the most time consuming part of the project. Regular meetings are held with the construction crew to make sure things are running smoothly and details do not slip through the cracks. It is also imperative that a schedule of payments is set up during this phase.
While these four stages represent the bulk of the construction management process, an important final piece that adds tremendous value for an organization is a post-implementation analysis. It is best to conduct an analysis right after the project has been completed so that the successes, difficulties, and lessons are still fresh in the team’s mind.
This is likely the best chance that the project team will have to document the experience and learn from the project. Theoretical practices and advance planning are certainly essential tools for any project manager however, at the end of the day, it is practical, real life project management experience that will provide the best education for future projects.
Importance of Scheduling in Construction Project Management
In order for a project to be delivered on time, a strict adherence to a schedule must be maintained. This begins with the planning stage and stretches down into managing the contractors who are responsible for various aspects of the project.
During the planning phase, an ideal schedule is outlined that will set a target date for completion. This target date is developed in conjunction with the client. This delivery date serves as the guide for all the subsequent deadlines within the project.
From that point, the project manager can work backwards, aligning tasks and resources to be completed in concert with one another. Scheduling is perhaps the most important part of the planning process due to the potential ripple effect its mismanagement can have on the rest of the process. Careful consideration of dependent tasks and how they impact the maintenance of the schedule is an important role that the project manager is responsible for.
The Role of a Project Manager in Construction Project Management
Construction project managers are tasked with guiding the project along the project plan and monitoring progress to ensure that the project is completed to specifications and on time. This is a challenging role that requires leadership, attention to detail, and the ability to react quickly to changing expectations and circumstances.
The responsibilities of construction project managers include:
A good project manager is concerned with the quality of the product they are putting forward. Regular inspections of tasks and materials can clue the manager in to the quality of the project while it is in process.
Budgeting and cost management
Coming in at or under budget will remain a major concern for clients for the duration of a project. It is the construction project manager’s responsibility to monitor these expenses and ensure that everything stays inline with the client’s expectations.
Timely delivery of the project is likely only second to adhering to the budget in the eyes of a client. A successful construction project manager constantly has an eye on the calendar and dependent tasks to reduce bottlenecks.
Adherence to professional and regulatory practices
The construction industry is bound by countless industry specific regulatory practices. Project managers must be informed about the local and federal laws that govern not only the buildings they are working on but also the labor force.
Communicating with stakeholders
Clients and team members must be kept in the loop about progress. Proactive communication goes a long way to reduce anxiety for clients.
Project managers in general should be knowledgeable in their field. Construction project managers are no different and must have a strong understanding of the construction industry. The must also be familiar with budget development and expense tracking, document management, possess a strong resolve to see a project through to completion, and experience with project management software.
The Role of a Contractor in Construction Project Management
Once a construction project plan has been put together, the project manager will reach out to contractors to work on the job. Contractors are often expert craftsmen in their fields ranging from electricians, plumbers, masons, and many, many others.
Project managers will oversee the bidding process in which contractors consider the scope of the work and enter their bid for services. The project manager considers not only the price tag associated with a contractor’s work but also their reputation, proven skills, knowledge and adherence to local regulations, estimated time to complete the work, and their human resource practices. Considering all of these factors adds up to a lot of work but selecting the correct contractor for a job will save both time and money down the road.
If a contractor is constantly behind schedule, comes in over budget, or cuts corners, the project manager will be saddled with the repercussions for the remainder of the project. Costly reworks and seeking out additional contractors the supplement the work always want to be avoided.
All of this can be avoided if the project manager does their due diligence and takes great care to choose the right contractors for the project.
The Best Construction Project Management Tools
Having the right tools is essential for the construction crew during the construction phase. Construction project planning and management is no different. The right tools will help the construction project manager work efficiently and keep all the details in order.
The best tools for construction project management currently is online software that allows for collaboration amongst stakeholders regardless of where they are. This flexibility facilitates a smooth and well communicated project.
PlanStreet’s construction management software is a complete resource for project managers. It serves as a one stop shop where managers can login and instantly get updates about the status of a project, contractors, and budget. Some of the features include:
Time and Expense Tracking
Construction project management is a big world. It is an interwove and interdependent process that requires careful planning and a strict adherence to a schedule. Fortunately there are a lot of great tools that are available to construction project managers to help them manage and organize all of the various aspects. An experienced project manager with great tools can deliver the client’s project in a timely fashion and under budget.
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