Managing a construction project often involves dealing with thousands of varying tasks, elements and personnel. For everyone to meet their deadlines, a project manager must be able to synchronize all these disparate elements to create one cohesive system. That includes, of course, ensuring a construction team is working effectively and diligently. It’s no small feat, and it’s certainly something that requires the aid of organizational and planning-oriented tools. Despite their many responsibilities, construction project managers also have to deal with a variety of minor, job-specific duties as well. Check out these quick tips and tricks to make construction project management a little easier.
1. Don’t Stop Learning
You must always use some of your time to advance your knowledge and experience, particularly when it comes to new technologies in the field. That includes keeping up with innovative construction practices and bleeding-edge materials usage.
It sounds like a lot to keep track of, but construction project management involves finding more efficient solutions to problems or practices. Stay updated about advancements happening in the industry. You’ll be better able to prepare yourself for making changes to existing or future operations. Not to mention, some of the newer technologies coming to market make the construction and development field more streamlined, and that benefits everyone.
2. Keep Communication Channels Open
Regular meetings to find out what’s happening on the project site are a necessary evil. While these meetings are certainly warranted, all managers should make a point to keep communication channels open — even outside designated times.
If your workers understand they can come to you, at any time, they’re more likely to open a dialogue about problems, suggestions or select events.
3. Strengthen Client and Owner Relationships
Throughout the scope of any project, you’ll spend a lot of time gathering feedback from your clients and incorporating their suggestions into your existing plans. If they want something changed or added, for example, you’ll need to find a way to do that without breaking the project or pushing back deadlines.
If you maintain a steady relationship with clients throughout the project and beyond, this entire process will go more smoothly. You’ll be able to converse with them more openly and perhaps even learn insights or suggestions to incorporate well before the completion of a stage. Instead of finding out there’s a problem after a step of the project concludes — and having to work backward to fix it — you can change things on the fly. You will also have a much better understanding of what your client thinks of the project, in general, whether they are satisfied or unhappy.
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4. Deliver Bad News Early
Mistakes happen, and part of the job is not just mitigating risk, but also finding smart, timely ways for dealing with problems. While you’re busy doing all that, however, it’s easy to brush aside the task of informing clients and partners. That’s never a good idea. You should always plan to tell any necessary parties about bad news or events as soon as possible.
This policy keeps everyone in the loop, but it also reveals opportunities you might otherwise have missed. Others involved tend to share suggestions or insights, which may prove useful. Plus, it helps build trust when you’re professionally open and honest.
5. Surround Yourself With Good People
As a project manager, most of your work will be hands-off. You’re not on the job site getting your hands dirty. That doesn’t mean you’re not involved at all — it just means a lot of your success hinges upon the work ethic and talents of others. It can be a scary thought when you stop and consider it, but if you surround yourself with talented people, you’ll always come out on top.
That’s the important takeaway for this tip. Spend your time getting to know your team, and home in on what makes them great. If you’re hiring new personnel, focus on the traits that matter most for your particular field.
If you find someone who’s not as effective in their role as they should be, it might be worth shifting them elsewhere. Help them find a task that’s more suitable to their talents. Every member of a team has value, but there are limits to that value, depending on their current role. Some personnel might be a better fit for another task or project.
6. Every Day Matters
Construction and development projects are often drawn-out affairs. This means you shouldn’t expect to complete the work in a single night or day. Productivity is key for construction project management, from the first time you step onto a work-site through the very last day.
One of your roles as a project manager is to ensure you are using every day wisely, be it for planning and design or actual field work. Carry that with you wherever you go, and remember to place the same priority and emphasis on the work you’re doing day in and day out. That includes managing your time so you’re not forgetting about essential tasks or overlooking various aspects of the job.
7. Review All Contracts Thoroughly
Every contractor signs an agreement with their clients, which addresses the scope and limitations of a project, as well as outlines the responsibilities of each party. It is vital that you not only read these contracts, but also familiarize yourself with everything included within. If you have to, coordinate with a legal team to ensure you understand the language and terms used.
If and when there are problems — especially when they result in delays — you must ensure you and your team are still fulfilling contractual obligations. Failure to do so can lead to hefty legal fees and a long list of complications. Understanding your responsibilities will also help handle conflicts that arise, and we all know how nasty those can get.
8. Learn the Art of Negotiation
You might as well call yourself an artful negotiator instead of a project manager. Why? Construction project management involves spending lots and lots of time dealing with people, be it clients, suppliers, subcontractors or even members of your team.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to convince a specific group or party about a particular decision, action or event. That’s not even including the negotiation necessary to secure materials and supplies, choose a proper timeline or deal with investors. You must be able to persuade others you know what you’re doing and that the decisions you’re making are the best they can be for the project and your team.
Construction Project Management
Leading a team of hundreds or more is not easy. But that’s not the only responsibility construction project managers hold, as you well know. The best way to achieve success is to invest the appropriate time in planning and to remain consistent. That means checking in with team members and personnel regularly, building a strong relationship with clients, reviewing all contracts and dealing with potential problems swiftly.
Mostly, you’ll be using these tips alongside your experience, knowledge and talents to keep projects moving forward seamlessly.