5 stages of project management

5 Stages of Construction Project Management Life Cycle

Every construction project contains several phases that require managers to carefully plan a roadmap from the point of inception to completion. Whether a client wants to renovate a single room, build an additional floor, or erect a looming skyscraper, each construction project can generally be broken down into five distinct stages that nestle multiple steps and activities for project management.

Considering the complexity of each stage, managers and planning members must understand the complete lifecycle of a construction project. This ensures efficiency in meeting deadlines and find solutions to challenges for a successful construction project.

1. Project Conception and Initiation Phase

The first phase of construction project management is the most important. It forms the foundation of all the following construction phases and establishes whether the project is a good opportunity or not. This involves gathering experts and trusted partners for a project initiation document (PID) that must be completed before approval. The PID lays the groundwork for the entire construction project.

Feasibility Study and Assessment

Before asking for approval, the planning team must asses all objectives and milestones the project wants to meet. This requires a feasibility or case study to determine several interconnected aspects of the project such as cost, design, materials, equipment, location, and timeframe.

Project Initiation Document (PID) and Other Documentation

The information and data collected from the study are then used to create a PID. This document highlights what the project wants to achieve in a given time frame. Milestones are set accordingly for stakeholders as the criteria of success.

The planning team also utilizes the PID phase to draw up a schematic design that recommends materials, colors, and textures. Further discussion helps the team draw the final drawings based on agreed specifications which recommend contractors, architects, and other experts who must be involved in the project.

These documents can then be shared with teams interested in placing bids to work on the project.

New call-to-action

2. Project Planning Phase

Once the project gets approved, a plan needs to be outlined and put into writing. Having a written plan helps ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page and understands the steps that must be taken to complete the project effectively. 

Note that the more issues the team can address during the planning phase, the more time and money they will save during the execution phase. This is why early involvement of trade partners and subcontractors is critical. This construction management phase is imperative in preparing and executing a successful project.

Scope and Resource Planning

“Resource Planning” and “Procurement Planning” are similar, so I skipped this subheading to cover everything in one. 

Estimate Cost and Budget

The first step of the pre-construction phase sees the project manager and owner finalize a budget for the complete contract. This includes estimated costs for all construction phases based on how they should be completed and how long they should take to complete. 

The timelines also determine mini-budgets for several sub-phases. Note that the entire point of this construction phase is to ensure that the project remains within budget.

Risk Management

One of the most important steps in the pre-construction phase is assessing risk. Every project comes with certain risks attached. Construction rarely goes as planned and there are bound to be several challenges that may appear along the way. 

The planning team should be prepared for when (if) things go wrong. Having a sound risk management plan saves time, and money, and ensures that the project can still meet deadlines.

Procurement Planning

The procurement phase of construction is where the manager places orders for materials, equipment, tools, and related services based on the PID agreed upon at the start of the project. 

The scope of the project determines quantity and time, which in turn determines whether something should be purchased or rented. The manager might decide to purchase equipment, for example, to save rental fees if the project is expected to last for a longer period. 

Ensuring that the project site has everything required impacts how smoothly construction goes.

3. Execution Phase

The next construction project phase is the actual execution based on the comprehensive plan developed in the previous step. This stage is where the team collectively develops deliverables to satisfy the customer. This is where the magic happens and the project comes to life.

Resource Allocation

The fourth construction phase starts with pre-construction meetings to confirm all teams are on the same page. The project is reviewed and tasks are assigned to each team alongside timelines. All related materials and equipment are also confirmed to be available on the site. 

This phase mostly revolves around the project manager and contractors. Everyone needs to have a clear understanding of their roles because the slightest deviation at this point can derail the construction roadmap.

Plans Implementation

The planning team can now finally move from seeing the project on paper to physically starting building. This is a critical point for a construction project manager. There must be complete visibility of all teams and workforces on the site to ensure a steady workflow. 

Managing personnel and materials is only half of what the project manager must do from here on. Timely reporting to designers and owners ensures that everyone in their offices has a clear understanding of the status of the project. This step also transitions into the next phase of construction project management.

4. Project Monitoring, Performance and Control

Monitoring the construction project goes hand in hand with several of the previous steps. This is because project managers must track multiple activities that occur simultaneously once construction begins. This also puts project managers in a decisive position to modify schedules or make changes based on performance reports. 

Monitoring and Tracking

Daily supervision is done based on specific key performance indicators (KPIs) that can vary depending on the scope of the project. KPIs can also vary throughout a project’s lifecycle based on progress. Some examples of construction KPIs include project schedule, estimate to project completion, effort and cost tracking, and project performance.

The point of tracking KPIs is to confirm that the project is running on schedule and within budget. It is normal (and most often necessary) for project managers to make changes on the fly as progress reports come in. This ensures that deadlines are met for different construction phases. 

For example, a project manager may decide to prioritize one large issue rather than several minor issues to remain on schedule and within budget. This also mitigates risk.

Quality Control to Meet Standards

Maintaining quality control is another reason for tracking KPIs for each construction phase. Project managers cannot ensure quality of work without remaining in constant communication with the planning team. This communication hierarchy varies between projects but normally sees the project manager receiving daily reports from architects and engineers as they perform quality inspections for their respective teams.

Requests for reviewals can also be made for project managers if there is a risk of missing quality marks. The continuous quality checks seeding from the ground up to the project manager and stakeholders is how standards are met for construction projects.

Change Management

Despite various checks in place, construction projects can go off-road due to internal or external factors. In such cases, the project manager may decide to change management to adapt to the new circumstances. This can be because there are new goals to be met such as improving productivity for a certain team. 

That being said, all management changes must be made to keep the project within budget. The planning team can sit together to review (and propose) change management solutions based on their long-run impact.

5. Project Closure, the Final Phase

Once the team executes all the deliverables and delivers them to the satisfaction of the customer, they can close the project. When the team officially completes the project, we move into the final stage of the construction project life cycle. This last step is vitally important because it allows team members to evaluate, document, and learn from the project.

Project Review and Contract Completion

Experienced construction project managers will always have an inspection list to go through during the final phase. Reviewing the project from start to end confirms if there is any work that still needs to be completed. This is another step in quality assurance as the project must be delivered to the owner in the best state and without any lingering issues.

The project review phase is also where the construction manager can begin what we call demobilization. Any equipment that was being rented and is now of no use must be returned to save any further rental fees. Subcontractors finishing up their final phases must have their contracts settled or moved to other jobs if the project manager is overseeing more than one project.

Once it is determined that all work was completed as per code and agreement, the planning team can give the owner a complete project walkthrough. 

Going over the project again gives the planning team a vital opportunity to learn and adapt for future projects. Note that every construction project is different, so absorbing critical experience from how challenges were faced, solutions given, resources allocated, teams managed, etc, ensures better planning for future projects. 

Project Handover

Once the owner and stakeholders are satisfied, the planning team can start preparing closure documents. This includes quality inspection certificates, occupancy certificates, technical submittals, maintenance reports, and other completion certificates necessary for the owner. 

Depending on the location of the project, state-exclusive regulations may also allow managers to prepare certain documents beforehand to save time.

It is also necessary to prepare a list of all contractor payments for the owner as proof of settled accounts. These documents verify that the contractor followed all project requirements.

When everything is ready, the packaged documentation can be delivered to the client. This marks the closure of the project and sees the property officially delivered.

eSUB Assists You Through Every Construction Phase of the Project’s Lifecycle

It is nearly impossible to complete each construction stage without project management software. Industry-leading software eSUB has features that help project managers and contractors maximize their efficiency throughout each phase of the project’s lifecycle.

Its built-in real-time dashboard collects data and reports from different teams before providing a high-level overview of the entire project. This lets project managers have an excellent understanding of how each phase of the project is unfolding and whether adjustments need to be made. 

The easy-to-read charts and graphs cover inventory and workforce statuses, costs and expenses incurred, timelines, and other visual indicators to highlight workflows.

The in-progress reports, furthermore, allow project managers to stay on top of deadlines and change schedules as needed. This includes ordering more materials before previously set dates, hiring more workers, shifting teams, managing equipment, etc.

The digital tools provided by eSub ensure that project managers optimize their time and save unforeseen costs and delays during the project’s lifecycle. 


Performance Magazine

Project Management.com

Project Insight.net