Construction management is a large field, there are many different things that go into it and a lot of tips and tricks that managers can employ to succeed. Construction managers have the skills and knowledge to improve project delivery, communication, and other aspects of project management. However, getting started and understanding all of the factors in project delivery can be hard to get in one place. This definitive guide to better construction management takes readers around the various aspects of construction project management.
Table of Contents
The Functions of Construction Management
Construction management is critical to the overall success and development of any project. Understanding the functions of construction management and what role they play can ensure a project’s success.
Contract administration is an important part of construction management and construction involves contracts between the owner, general contractor, and subsequent subcontractors. Construction managers often have to negotiate the terms and conditions and ensuring compliance. They have to document all changes and ensure they’re agreed upon by all parties. Contract administration comes into play in many parts of construction management, like purchase orders, change orders and other documents.
Another function of construction management is project planning. Project planning uses the documents available to build the guides for the project. This will encompass the schedule, resource management, task definition, and other common areas of project management. Without this information and planning, the project won’t run as smoothly. The project plan should try to encompass all the direct and indirect costs, though sometimes those indirect costs are forgotten.
Cost management is a function of construction project management. Without any sort of cost management and cost awareness, construction management will falter. Cost management encompasses not only changes to the budget but the budget creation as well. Using the schedule and estimates created in the project management phase of construction management, a manager can easily develop their budget. The next hardest part of the job is trying to make sure the project will stick to the budget, that is through risk mitigation.
Project live and die on their risk and how they manage it. Some of risk management is in avoiding and removing, while sometimes companies will just have to accept the risk. Removing risk can be pushing risk from one company to another, or removing the situation or thing causing risk. It can also be avoiding risk. Risk management is absolutely crucial for any and every project because managing risk can be the difference between making and losing money.
Safety is always a concern within the construction industry, the industry as a whole is a high hazard industry. Safety management is a huge section in the construction project because it is the responsibility of the construction manager to ensure that all of the workers and future users of the space will be safe. The construction manager has to worry about things like exhaustion and other issues on a site. Exhaustion alone is one of the most overlooked safety issues within the industry and a cause of many different issues.
Construction managers are responsible for quality assurance and quality control. It’s another important facet of construction management. Quality management is what ensures that the project, when completed, will be up to par. The construction manager will have to analyze the work, materials, and practices to know whether or not the project quality. This is important because if something is wrong with one or more of the elements it will cause rework if caught early, but could be detrimental or catastrophic.
Who Manages Construction Projects?
The overall personnel structure of construction projects might seem confusing to someone who isn’t in construction. Who reports to who and who does what can get complicated; however, this will help you understand the construction project management hierarchy.
A construction manager might be hired to manage construction on the project. A construction manager is typically an independent contractor on the project. They might be hired by the general contractor, but more likely they are hired by the owner. The construction manager will manage the project, including the six functions listed above for the duration of the project. Everyone on the project would be under the construction manager.
Someone becomes a construction manager after years of study and work in the industry. They have to be knowledgeable about building codes, industry practices and have communication skills. Many construction managers study topics like Construction Management, Construction Science, or Engineering to develop their skills. Construction managers can also get certification, and certified construction managers are in high demand.
A construction project manager also will manage a construction project. They will manage the project, including the six functions listed above for the duration of the project. Everyone on the project would be under the construction manager. The project manager is similar to a construction manager, the big difference is they would work for the general contractor rather than the owner. Usually, if a general contractor is hired their project manager will manage the project rather than a construction manager. However, this isn’t always the case.
People become project managers through a couple of ways. One common way is by getting a college degree and work experience. Project managers often get degrees in construction management, engineering, or other similar fields. They’ll then work under project managers to learn more about the trade. Or people get in to project management by working their way up through the construction industry.
A construction superintendent will work for a contractor or subcontractor. Their exact day to day can vary by company, but overall they work to ensure the project they’re assigned to is completed successfully and smoothly. Smaller firms might have their superintendents doing the same work as a project manager, while they might have a smaller defined set of responsibilities at a larger company. Superintendents are often relaying information from forepersons to owners and vice versa. They are always responsible for project forepersons.
Depending on the firm, people can become a construction superintendent in a variety of ways. Some companies might want their superintendents to have gone to college, but most are looking for experience. Two-year colleges offer many courses that will help with the day to day of the job, but experience as a project foreperson is usually key.
The project foreperson is often the acting supervisor on a project. They will train, direct, supervise, and are generally responsible for the crew and workers throughout the project. They have to monitor the worker’s efforts while evaluating the progress of the project. They will organize the exact day to day of a project using the schedule set forth for them. They will also write up and document any and all happenings in the field. If the project is going well they will document, if it is going poorly they will document. They help protect the companies they work for from non-payment and other issues.
Forepersons don’t need a college degree, but having classes in construction project management, accounting and other pertinent facets of their work is convenient. However, many of these classes are offered through two-year universities which can save people a lot of money.
All of these roles can be involved in managing a construction project, with their responsibilities changing with the size of the company. They’re responsible for various aspects of the project. With the foreperson managing the crews and the superintendent managing the forepersons. These roles and their hierarchy are important in understanding who is responsible for each part of construction management.
How to Become a Construction Manager?
How to Manage Construction Projects
Knowing how to manage a construction project takes time and involves a lot of work and studying to ensure that the project is successfully managed.
Developing a Project Roadmap
The first step in project management is developing a project roadmap. The roadmap is the plan for how the project will commence. It is the overview of the plan, to be exact. This is used to build the true schedule off of and help determine which performance metrics will be used.
Define all Roles and Responsibilities
The next step is to define the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the project, including stakeholders. This information is used to know who will have to approve what, and who is responsible for different parts of the project. This is important to know going forward and should be marked.
Setting Scope and Baselines
Getting the scope and baselines into writing is crucial for project success. This should be finalized and agreed upon at the stakeholder meeting. Without this information there it’s hard to judge how far along a project is. Setting the scope in writing that everyone agrees to is also the best way to avoid scope creep. Now if something is supposed to be changed they have to get it in writing with changes to the schedule and budget marked.
Scheduling is the next important spet in construction management. Not having a schedule can be detrimental. The construction or project manager should set up a schedule to ensure that everything runs smoothly. This schedule should identify all necessary steps and parts, along with the party that will be doing those steps and such. Then it needs to be approved.
If something happens and it becomes apparent that a modification to the schedule or the plan will need to take place ti needs to follow the modification process. The modification process should be written up and signed by all stakeholders before work starts on the project. The process lets people know who to speak to, what forms to fill out, and what information is necessary in order to make a change to the plan.
Develop and Implement a Quality Control Plan
One of the next steps is to build and implement a quality control plan. This ensures that the project is up to industry standards and will be able to be turned over to the appropriate person. This also means there will need to be quality control and assurance to make this possible. Developing and implementing the quality control plan is a must or any and every project.
Developing a Communication Plan
The communications plan ensures that everyone knows who they are supposed to talk to and about what. It also helps ensure that the participants will be contacted in the appropriate way with the appropriate forms. Without this information, it can be difficult to contact the right person on a given issue.
This step is important because all of the key stakeholders won’t always be able to be in the same room for a while. This is where all of the stakeholders get together and review the plan, roles, and responsibilities. It’s just as much about building the team as it is about creating organization and enforcing communication chains. This meeting kicks off the rest of the project. This is also where to discuss all of these plans and contingencies.
Every construction project manager might have different names or processes, but these are the biggest ones for new project managers to be aware of. With this information it will be easier to ensure the project goes according to plan and with little issues from the stakeholders.
Tips for Better Construction Management
Construction managers are always looking for new ways to improve their processes. A successful process can improve completion times, communication, and even other projects. Many projects end up over time and budget which hurts the contractors that work on them. This makes improving construction management important because of the increase in efficiency and efficacy.
The project manager or construction manager must plan the project thoroughly, accounting for possible risks and issues. Missing key pieces of the project or the project plan make it difficult to successfully work on the project. Therefore it is crucial to plan accordingly.
Play to Your Strengths
When scheduling labor, ensure the strengths and weaknesses of each employee is taken into consideration. Picking the right person or right team for the job is crucial to get it done right.
Monitor the Project
Construction management isn’t just setting up the plans then watching whatever happens. It is day-to-day monitoring to ensure it is still to schedule. Using field notes, daily reports, lost hours, and other reports to compare actuals vs the schedule is important to monitor the project.
Archival isn’t just for one project, it should be done on every project. By archiving projects it gives the construction manager and future construction managers the chance to learn from past projects. Having the chance to see what went well versus what didn’t is crucial for next projects.
Historical data and other data is extremely useful for learning to learn better construction management practices and techniques. These tips and tricks can help ensure the project runs smoothly, and that future projects are even better.
Construction, especially successful construction, is especially challenging. There are many different things that can go wrong, and that can cause issues with the project. However, great construction management techniques can mitigate these problems and create successful projects.
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