Finishing homework in school was always an achievement. Be it an hour before school started or a day before the holidays ended. Finishing a project is an achievement on its own. This feeling goes on till the end though. When it comes to a construction project, the feeling amplifies.
Architects, construction managers, or contractors are passionate people who work tirelessly to bring ambitious plans to reality and contribute to society in their own way.
However, this is a tough mission. Managing a team of so many people is a herculean task. Construction managers have to keep their eyes and ears open while being on their feet all day long to manage the crowd.
Project managers tell us that they spend 40% of their time on site day after day attending meetings, making phone calls, and writing reports. That can be extremely frustrating, especially when they have to rely on tools that aren’t tailored to the construction industry.
And, unfortunately, that’s not all. They always have to be in full alignment with their site manager to ensure that their project stays protected against commercial claims and that all non conformities are addressed on time so that there are no unpleasant surprises waiting during handovers.
This is also why there are many who think of construction managers as the uncrowned kings of the industry. They have to deal with so many burning issues at the same time, never lose sight of the planning, and more importantly, make the construction site a safe place for everyone who is working there.
How to manage a construction project step by step
Taking all this into consideration, we present below 10 powerful tips that can help every construction manager out there to stay on top of their projects and increase site visibility without getting drowned in excessive admin workload:
1. Choose construction-specific tools
It is no secret that the construction industry is addicted to Excel and WhatsApp. And we get why. They are both great tools that can make your daily life much easier and allow you to connect with different people just in a few clicks.
However, when it comes to managing a construction project they are not enough. And the reason is simple. They can’t connect the planning to the updates that you receive from the site.
The result? Project managers end up having no visibility of what’s happening on the field and quickly come up against cumbersome decision making and excessive admin workload. This is why it is so crucial to find the right tools for their projects.
By relying on a construction-specific tool, they can get a shareable on-site live view of your project and stay on track with each team’s progress at every stage. In the long run, that can save them both time and money.
2. Use a single source of truth
Another big problem for many construction managers all over the world has to do with the amount of time they have to spend on collecting all the information they need from multiple sources and stakeholders.
This is again inextricably linked to the use of tools that are not built for the industry and can’t connect and interact with each other in a single data source.
Using a single source of truth in your projects can significantly reduce admin burden and give you the overview you need in order to make informed decisions faster and communicate with your teams in a seamless way.
3. Reduce admin burden
We already mentioned the administrative nightmare of construction at the beginning of this article, but we can’t stress enough the impact it has on the industry. Without a doubt, project managers are those who are hit by it in the worst way.
So many meetings and phone calls that should have been a notification in a construction-specific tool have stolen away from them hours, if not days, of meaningful work.
That’s something that needs to change. And there is only one way for that to happen. By using construction-specific tools that can connect the different stakeholders and ensure that everybody is reporting in a single data source and has full visibility over the tasks that are important to them.
Like that, the responsibility is pushed to the teams on site, and project managers have more freedom to focus their attention on things that matter the most.
4. Make safety a priority
Our next piece of advice is something that we cannot stress enough. Safety should always be the number one priority regardless of the type or the budget of your project. Nothing is more important than human life and that’s something that project managers know well first hand.
Either we are talking about safety on the site or managing stress so that construction workers can be happy and, by extension, productive focusing on the well being of your team is of paramount importance.
And that’s something that is also closely connected to planning. The more a project gets out of hand the bigger the stress that weighs on the shoulders of the project stakeholders.
Nevertheless, by focusing on safety you ensure that serious incidents will be avoided and most of the tasks will be completed faster. This can give space both to you, as a project manager, and your team to breathe better and be much more effective while on duty.
5. Invest in repeatability
From this blog, we have countless times referred to the importance of standardisation and why investing in repeatability is the way forward. Thanks also to the COVID-19 crisis, the construction industry is in desperate need of coming up with a new normal.
In other words, a way to reduce delays and build with more efficiency and increased quality. The industrialization of certain parts of the production process can play a decisive role in that direction.
Especially, in projects where you have to construct a series of the same structures or follow a number of the same processes standardisation allows you to improve your processes and gain better control of the way you design, manage and communicate around a project.
Simply put, it’s the “been there, done that” approach that will eventually lead you to faster delivery and increased profitability.
6. Connect quality to your planning
Many project teams around the world are used to deal with non conformities at the end of a project just before handovers. This causes serious delays in handing the project over to the client as in many cases even more problems are discovered at the last minute.
As a project manager, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation like that. For that reason, it is an excellent idea to start resolving non conformities as they appear instead of letting everything for the end of the project.
To achieve this, you need to connect your checks with both your short and long-term planning. In that way, you can get full control of the building process and have better visibility of what tasks on site require more attention.
This can also work miracles in your effort to keep your project claim-free as you will always be one step ahead of everyone else.
7. Stay always on top of the cost
This advice might feel a bit generic but in reality, it is because in every construction project there are multiple sources that can generate cost out of nowhere. In that sense, you need to always be on top of every aspect of the project to avoid that.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. The good news is that there are certain areas that you can start from. More specifically, limiting delays, being extremely careful with managing your materials (e.g. avoiding ordering materials too early or too late), responding, or raising claims quickly can be some of the ways you can take ownership of your project and keep your budget under control.
All the above require, though, impeccable communication between your site and the boardroom and it is greatly dependent on using the right tools. So, once again, we go back to advice number 1: choose digital tools that are tailored to the construction industry.
8. Be extra careful with claims
It is no secret that commercial claims are one of the biggest headaches for all project managers out there. The slightest mistake and you can quickly find yourself trapped in an endless construction dispute.
And the worst part? The time you have to spend (from weeks to months even sometimes) looking for that one email or that precious photo that proves you are not the one to blame for the delay or the quality issue that has appeared.
If only there was a way to stay in full alignment with your site manager and easily recover the right information when you need it. Well, you can now smile because there is actually. It’s called a construction-specific tool (i.e. LetsBuild) and a single source of truth which if used correctly can be a single source of proof and save you and your project from a lot of trouble.
9. Bring lean on the site
Lean construction is undoubtedly one of the brightest methods of managing a construction project. Especially at the beginning of a project, it offers that unique visual clarity over the different tasks and the responsibilities of each project team.
Good as it is, though, it can sometimes end up being a bit messy due to the fact that it’s a manual process that relies on colourful post-it notes and a whiteboard.
How could we overcome this? Well, by bringing your colourful plan to the site in a digital form. This doesn’t mean that the whiteboard back to the office has to go. On the contrary, it will still remain a vital part of the processes due to the visual clarity that it provides and which can be helpful in many different ways. For instance, when you have teams that speak different languages colour-coding can be valuable.
Nonetheless, there has to be a better way to update it or to reflect changes in lookaheads in real time. That can be done through the use of digital tools that have been designed and built having construction as their main focal point. Look for such tools and make them an extension of your whiteboard.
10. Lead and take everyone with you
Last but not least, always remember that you are leading this project. Make sure that you stay close to your teams and listen to them both from a professional and personal aspect.
This will help you earn their trust and establish more direct and trustworthy communication with them.
That’s extremely important not only for your current but also for your future projects. As we mentioned above, repeatability is key, and what better way to invest in repeatability by having the same teams working with you again and again.
But to make people want to work for you, at the end of the day you have to be a good leader.
Start working smarter today!
By now, you have a good idea of how you can manage your construction projects in an effective way so that you can deliver sooner and cheaper without compromising quality. But that’s only the beginning, as now it’s time for action!
In an effort to help you, we have put together a detailed ebook that dives into why choosing construction-specific tools is important for the success of your projects and how you can segment your various communication workflows while maintaining full visibility over your multiple tasks and projects.
You can download for free just by clicking below: