Residential projects: 5 mistakes project managers don’t know they are making

Today project managers keep critical information in multiple disconnected tools and formats (Excel, MS Project, Primavera P6, Powerproject, even whiteboards and paper notes), sent back and forth by email, SMS, and WhatsApp. This makes it very difficult to see the aggregate impact of problems and changes, which is necessary in order to make timely and well-informed decisions.

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Many project managers in repetitive residential projects tell us that they have to spend up to 50% of their time each week on planning. Their programme is stuck on MS Project and to update it they have to go through countless WhatsApp notifications, emails, or phone calls. It doesn’t take much before they get buried under a mountain of admin work.

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

In an effort to help you avoid ending up in the same situation, here is a list of 5 common mistakes project managers don’t know they are making:  

1. They use the wrong tools.

MS Project, Excel, WhatsApp, and emails are only some of the tools project managers tend to use. The problem is that none of these tools is actually made for construction teams and project communication. The reason is that they lack a clear, real-time connection both to the master schedule and the 3-6 week lookaheads. By relying on them, project teams end up working in silos making it impossible for you, as a project manager, to have a good understanding of where your projects stand and make informed decisions quickly to avoid interruptions. 

2. They don’t have a strong culture around planning.

One of your main responsibilities as a project manager is to create and maintain a regular rhythm to your project. To make that happen, you need to plan ahead and strategically schedule tasks in manageable chunks. As shown by recent surveys, if you manage to deliver small tasks at least 80% on schedule and without compromising quality, you will most likely deliver both on time and on budget. 

So instead of trying to schedule everything in detail from start to finish, or focusing only on the milestones you want to hit, plan short term and start relying on continuously updated 3-6 week lookaheads. 

Learn more: Bridging the gap – 3 steps to improving communication in construction

A good way to start on this approach is by connecting your team around a shared live version of the programme and regularly update them about the upcoming milestones (with those being no more than a month away) and dependencies between tasks. Like that, you can keep everyone facing the same direction and maintain a good pace on the development of your project. 

3. They think their team isn’t tech savvy enough.

When it comes to implementing a new digital tool, a common concern that project managers have is that their teams on site aren’t tech savvy enough to understand how to use the new app. However, the truth is much different. Most of the people on the field are already using their smartphones on a daily basis to check their mobile banking or stay up to date on the latest news of their favourite sports team. There is absolutely no reason why they can’t use a construction app to make their working life much easier and balanced. Provide them with the right training and they will be able to pick up the new tool in no time.

4. They don’t standardise.

Waiting for other subcontractors or team members to complete their tasks is typically one of the main reasons behind delays and downtime in a residential project. How could you avoid that? By standardising and connecting your tasks and workflows.

In that way, information flows smoothly from one stakeholder to another ensuring good collaboration between people on the field. For this approach to work, it is essential that you move your schedule to the cloud and collect all critical information in a centralised place. 

All team members will then have access and be able to see when is the right time for them to show up on the site. At the same time, instead of waiting for a pending task to begin they can re-organise their to-do list and start working on a different task to save time.

5. They don’t connect their schedules.

Today project managers, site managers, procurement teams, and subcontractors keep critical information in multiple disconnected tools and formats (Excel, MS Project, Primavera P6, Powerproject, even whiteboards and paper notes), sent back and forth by email, SMS, and WhatsApp. This makes it very difficult to see the aggregate impact of problems and changes, which is necessary in order to make timely and well-informed decisions.

Find also: How to connect your project schedules and align better?

What if each team could easily share their own schedule, in real time, to avoid the mess of sending outdated and disconnected schedules by email? The same way you currently do it with your drawings and Dropbox / Google Drive / OneDrive. That is what Cloud-based collaboration software does for you.

Like that, you would:

  • never miss an important milestone or development.
  • boost visibility and transparency
  • improve communication with subcontractors
  • achieve full alignment between on-site and off-site teams

Download our ebook and escape the waiting game!

If you are ready to reduce downtime and delays in your projects and understand that planning is king, download our free ebook and start building better and faster.

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Topics: Project management
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