When managing a construction project, there are many areas you must consider. At every stage, you need to take into account the viewpoints of those on the jobsite and those funding the project. Here are four ways you can improve the project management process.
Essentials for Managing Construction Projects
1: Continue Planning Throughout the Project
It’s tempting for any project manager to make a concrete plan at the beginning of a project and refuse to change it except in the direst of circumstances. But doing things in the real world doesn’t always go according to plan, and being open to changing elements of the plan—or even planning as you go—can be beneficial.
You see this willingness to adjust plans in the Lean-Agile approach taken by software companies, in which they plan for every sprint, section of work, and every milestone.
By continuing to plan throughout the project, home builders can actually get a good view of any scope creep and keep a tight rein on risks. It also helps you deal quickly with any problems that arise, as your plan is fluid enough to adapt to the situation at hand.
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2: Ask Questions of Everyone Involved in the Project
Take time to look at both the big and small picture and ask questions of those in various positions in the company. Speak with the architect or designer—in-house or out—for the project so you know and understand their concerns and when to update or engage them. Talk with construction workers to find out if they feel the jobsite is safe and meets their needs.
Communication is key to a project’s success, but that doesn’t mean simply relying on bland reporting; project management is, at heart, a people-focussed endeavor, and having everyone working toward the same goal is critical. If you continually ask people what they need and want, their concerns, and where they are in the process, you get a good picture of any challenges or roadblocks … and ensure everyone feels as though they’re being heard.
3: Manage Risk
Too often I’ve seen project managers create a hard-to-read spreadsheet filled with business jargon that sits in a folder and is barely referred to, and call it risk assessment. The spreadsheet gets updated infrequently and is only really viewed at business meetings, causing eyes to glaze over as they look over the columns of data with no context.
But properly managing risk is vital to a project’s success and longevity. If you use a more interactive (or “living”) document to identify and deal with risks, it allows issues to be more easily and clearly unearthed and it keeps people aware of potential risks down the road.
When milestone planning for a construction project, the details of risks become a vital tool to ensure you build in appropriate buffers. If you have an automated reporting system, you can set up alerts for specific risks so everyone who needs to know is notified. Break out of spreadsheet mode and make risks tangible to all stakeholders so they also feel a sense of ownership and responsibility.
4: Keep Everyone on the Same Page
As mentioned earlier, communication is key to project success, and it’s made far easier when everyone is on the same page, no matter where they are in the chain of command. So many projects fail because of misunderstandings regarding requirements or miscommunication of expectations. Keep everyone updated on project status and make sure everyone knows they can come to you to discuss issues.
A big part of this tenet is keeping a watchful eye on the use of any jargon that may end up in your vocabulary. I always say analysts and project managers are essentially translators for every area of the business; what may be common jargon among investors may mean nothing to the guys on the ground doing the actual work.
As such, it’s your job to make sure all communication is:
1) Sent to the right audience
2) Tailored to that audience, and
3) Provides enough information without overloading the audience.
Taking some time to create a communication plan identifying all of the stakeholders and the desired amount of communication will save you a lot of hassle once the project is underway. This is where asking questions can really help you know the exact concerns of every person involved.
Key Takeaways for Successful Project Management
Construction management is a form of project management that can have disastrous consequences if things don’t go right. However, the key takeaways for improving your project are to be flexible in your planning, keep risk top of mind, and ensure communication workflows are developed early on and maintained throughout the project. Do this and you should find your project—and life—become much easier.
Project coordinator and technical writer Sara Sparrow, is a contributing writer for OX Essays and dissertation writing services in the UK. She spends most of her work life attending conferences and consulting with businesses about technology and marketing and then shares her knowledge on a variety of business topics, including blogs like Do my research paper.