Project management is more than a practice — it’s an art form. In construction, considering how large these projects can get, management skills are crucial to project success. The best construction managers can deftly juggle multiple people, vendors, tools, and environmental factors, all of which can be optimised for maximum efficiency and profitability. Eager to level up your construction management skills? Start with these tips and tricks.
Make Room at the Table
The best project managers strike a balance between “too many cooks” and trying to do it all themselves. Create a collaborative environment in which each key stakeholder’s contribution is weighed in an appropriate and timely manner. This ensures that risks and potential curveballs can be anticipated and avoided. Plus, you’ll find that each stakeholder has valuable insights on how to streamline the project.
Then create a structure for communication and route feedback appropriately — you don’t want to create a tangled mess of ideas and notes without a clear plan of action. Make sure that you respect each of your experts’ roles and responsibilities. It’s all too easy for a project to get off-track if people are overstepping their bounds or relying on others to pick up the slack. Your goal is to get everyone heard without losing sight of the big picture.
Don’t Take It All On Yourself
Just as you open up the table to multiple viewpoints, you should be able to delegate tasks. This is a crucial skill for managers, especially when projects involve multiple moving parts over a period of time. Choose team supervisors, architects, and vendor managers you can trust — then let them do their jobs. Your role should be to guide their activity and supervise their work, without feeling the need to do it all yourself.
After all, you’re only one person, and the more you take on, the more likely it is that errors or oversights will occur. Protect your project (and your sanity) by delegating whenever possible.
Use a Work Execution Platform
After you’ve created your infrastructure for collaboration, feedback, and task assignment, you’ll need a cohesive place to manage all your resources. The people working on the construction project may be miles apart. From accountants to surveyors to investors to lawyers, you need everyone to get on the same page. A work execution platform streamlines communication and provides a central location for plans, budgets, schedules, etc.
Invest in a good platform that includes automated workflows, instant notifications, and progress visualizations. This way, you can send daily reports to stakeholders, ensure that all team supervisors know their assignments, and provide transparency to stakeholders, investors, and your legal team. Automating your project will save you hundreds of hours of your valuable time, allowing you to focus on personnel management and site supervision.
Plan, Plan, Plan
You’ve heard the saying, “Measure twice, cut once.” Take that to the next level: “Plan three times, then measure!” While it’s true that environmental factors, labor turnover, and other factors can get your project off track, the more you plan, the more you protect your project from actually derailing.
When preparing your construction plan, try to plan for all the variables. Map out a timetable that includes all approval processes, delivery timeframes, and labor schedules. Build in contingencies in case weather or shipment issues delay your project. In short, you can never plan too much.
Take an Iterative Approach
In the world of software development, project managers created the “agile” management strategy, in which each phase of the project is monitored and tweaked to maximise efficiency. In agile management, you iterate different scenarios and solutions depending on the project’s progress.
This approach works for the construction industry as well. Too often, construction managers find themselves coming in behind schedule and over budget. An iterative approach allows you to address productivity issues such as inefficient equipment or material delays while they’re happening. This means you can solve the problem sooner and get the project back on track.
Show Up Every Day
The project manager who hides in their office all day is not one that the team trusts. Even with today’s digital management solutions, there’s no substitute for actual site visits. They give you a chance to monitor the quality of work, evaluate progress, and identify areas of improvement. In-person visits should be a regular part of your iterative management strategy.
Be Willing to Make Difficult Decisions
When things start to go wrong, it can be tempting to “wait and see” or try to pass the buck to someone else. While you may delegate tasks, ultimately the project is your responsibility. An inability to make critical decisions could cause serious harm or delays on your construction project. By the same token, you don’t want to rush decisions either. The wrong decision can be dangerous and even deadly.
The solution is to weigh each decision as it comes and take action as soon as you’ve evaluated your options. Always look for the path that is safest and best for the overall progress of the project and the well-being of your team. Be willing to lean upon contingencies if the current path isn’t viable. Then, communicate your decision to all involved team members.
Give Constructive Feedback
Sloppy work is a serious matter on a construction site. Even a small mistake can lead to big problems. If your team feels rushed (or if they’re inexperienced), mistakes can and will happen. Ensure that the project is progressing safely and accurately by monitoring the work, and don’t be afraid to give constructive criticism. If a team member isn’t performing well, you may need to reassign them, replace them, or get them additional help. (These scenarios should be included in your contingency plan!)
By the same token, it’s up to you to keep up morale. Praise team members who are doing good work, and be sure that you are clearly communicating any changes to the overall plan.
Streamline your Budget
You can go through a construction budget multiple times and still miss something. We recommend starting the budgeting process as early as possible so that you can factor in all real and predicted costs. Don’t forget to include expenses such as permitting fees, legal costs, and overtime. It’s always a good idea to build in a contingency budget to allow some flexibility.
If you’re struggling to track all expenses, use a construction budget planning software that automatically predicts and records costs. These solutions typically come with automation and reporting to help you track the budget as the project proceeds. You can even run different estimates to see how your overall spending would be affected by various scenarios.
An excellent construction manager is like any good manager: they’re attentive, flexible, diligent, and communicative. There are many helpful tools to automate and streamline the nitty-gritty of project management. These can free up your time and energy to thoroughly plan out the project, conduct in-person evaluations, and make difficult decisions as needed. Remember, preparation and prevention are always more effective than emergency response or project recovery!
Need help planning and monitoring your construction project? Costminer is the estimating and takeoff software solution to help you reduce budget errors and streamline your progress. Our fast and easy to use on screen takeoff and estimating software helps construction managers accurately plan and track their budgets, prepare estimates, and get feature-rich estimating for a reasonable price. Start your free trial today, and take your next project to the next level.