Construction risk management: Regain control when your project goes wrong

Written by LetsBuild

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Being able to define the major sources of risk in your projects can eventually pave the way for faster and cheaper delivery without having to compromise quality. Of course, not all construction projects are identical and in that sense, different approaches might be required depending on the project’s type and/or size.

Free ebook: Why WhatsApp and Excel aren’t enough for running complex construction projects

Nevertheless, we should not forget that 80% of the processes are almost the same in all projects. That being said, coming up with an effective risk management framework across different projects is possible.

To achieve that, you typically need three crucial components:

  • Investment in the right people.
  • Implementation of industry-specific digital tools.
  • Data from the field to continuously improve and eventually standardise your processes.

Taking this into account, it quickly becomes clear that mitigating risk and regaining control of your projects is not as far as you might think as long as you rely on the right people, tools, and processes to increase site visibility and keep your teams connected at all times.

How we could define risk in a construction project

Risk could be defined as any threat to the progress and completion of a construction project. In other words, any circumstances that can expose you to potential loss could be described as risk.

It goes without saying that risk isn’t appearing in the same form in all projects. For that reason, contractors need always to be well aware of the different types of risks that can put their projects in danger. In this tough mission, data from the site are seen as one of the most valuable allies.

Types of risk in construction

Before we focus on how you can regain control when your project is at risk, it’s necessary to take a closer look at the different types of risk for your projects. In that way, you will be able to plan ahead and protect your project from downtime and never-ending claims:

Project management risks

Anything that has to do with the effective management of your project is part of this category. We mentioned also before that visibility is key at this point. Through the use of a single source of truth, you can keep everyone connected and set high quality standards for your project. By establishing a direct link between the site and the office you can prevent mistakes and avoid having subcontractors arriving on site in vain.

Read more: How to avoid construction rework and build cheaper

Fiscal risks

Financial risks have first of all to do with any delays that might appear on your project and the penalties that are tied to it. Especially in projects where the state is the client, penalties normally are higher and as a result, the risk of a potential delay is more severe as well.

But there are also other types of risk that could be affected by the location of the project.  For instance, issues related to local taxation, inflation, and currency rates may pop up during the development of the project.

Legal risks

When it comes to construction, claims are always around the corner. This is also why from this corner we have many times underlined the importance of recording everything that happens on the site. Like that, you will always be in a position to raise or respond to a claim effectively.

In many cases, claims are triggered due to the lack of detail in signed contracts or the inability of the project team to prove that it is not responsible for a delay or a quality issue that has appeared. Regardless of the reason claims can result in serious downtime for your project and put extreme pressure on your budget.

Risks connected to the natural environment

Every country, or even city in some cases, has a different environment and its own natural phenomena. Keeping that in mind, you have to carefully examine the environmental conditions in an area before you begin your construction project. In that way, you will be able to time the different tasks at the right season of the year and even protect your site from extreme phenomena such as earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters.

Job-related risks

Working on a construction site is always dangerous. It’s a tough job that requires great skills and attention. In that sense, it’s imperative that you have done your best in order to minimize the possibility of an injury on site. A thorough and constant safety check not only before but also during the construction process is more than necessary. Again, site visibility is of paramount importance to achieve that.

Societal risks

A type of risk that is often mistakenly underestimated has to do with local social and cultural norms in the city where your construction project is located. Failure to comply with the local regulations or unwritten laws may lead to serious problems for your project along the way.

How to efficiently mitigate risk

No matter how big or small is your project, the risk is something that you have to learn to live with when it comes to construction. However, you can still stay ahead of risk by following the three steps below:

1. Increase site visibility

Having a shareable on-site live view of your project can help you stay on track with each team’s progress at every stage. That’s one of the most crucial steps for mitigating risk in construction. Simply because when you see more, you manage better.

Find here: Construction progress tracking: See more, finish faster

By always keeping your project in view, you can monitor progress and check quality against tasks in real time. Such an approach will also allow you to resolve non conformities as you go instead of leaving everything for the end of your project turning your handovers into a game of Russian roulette.

Furthermore, when you are up to date with what is coming next for your project you can make better decisions faster, utilise resources efficiently and avoid downtime or at least prevent the impact of the delays that you might experience along the way.

2. Use a single source of truth

Having all project information gathered in a single data source can play a decisive role in your effort to keep your project risk free. The reason is simple. A single source of truth is also a single source of proof.

In that sense, all stakeholders in the project have access to the same information making it easy for project teams to monitor who has said and done what with the help of a detailed audit trail.

Thanks to this, you as the project manager can trace everything, respond to critical requests effectively, and prioritise correctly. But to make all that happen without drowning in admin work, you need to find the right digital tool for your project. In other words, a construction-specific tool that has been built with our industry as its main focal point.

3. Standardise as much as possible

The more data you collect, the easier it gets for you to improve your processes and keep risk away both from your current and future projects. Once again, the implementation of industry-specific tools is vital.

Only then you can add context to the huge amount of data you collect from the site and start identifying patterns that will allow you to work and connect with your teams in a more effective way.

What’s more, a standardised way of working will enable your teams to make their own decisions without having to consult you at all times adding extra stress and confusion on your shoulders. All in all, cleaner and pre-designed processes will leave less room for mistakes and force your teams to take ownership of their tasks.

Miss nothing. Prevent mistakes.

By now, it’s crystal clear that a risk-free project goes through site visibility. But keeping track of what is happening on construction sites is challenging if you don’t have the right tools to help you.

To help you reduce downtime, raise the quality standards on site and eventually unlock the full potential of your projects we have put together a detailed ebook explaining why construction-specific digital tools are your biggest ally for running complex construction projects.

You can download it for free just by clicking below:

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