Ultimate Guide to Construction Project Management

Construction project management done well is one of the primary differentiators of construction businesses that thrive vs. those that struggle. While running a construction business seems straightforward and intuitive at first glance, aligning teams is particularly complex in this industry. Running a project well means ensuring people do the work on time and meet standards. To do that, you need suitable materials, tools, specialists, and communication abilities, which can be challenging without project management best practices.

In this entry, we will discuss all the concepts related to construction project management you must consider to run your business successfully. 

What is Construction Project Management?

Construction project management refers to organizing and aligning teams and resources in a construction project to achieve operational excellence and meet standards and deadlines. Given how many different aspects are involved in construction, managing a project involves understanding and working with multiple disciplines, specialists, and software solutions. 

As you can imagine, this holistic practice is a complex process requiring teams to watch out for multiple variables such as cost, schedules, possible delays, procurement and safety protocols, risk management, and people management. Usually, the designated project manager for any given project is the person who gets to talk to everyone playing a part in the project to ensure the expectations are met with results.

Subcontractors in a construction project management meeting
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The Role of the Construction Manager and the Project Manager

To ensure that the projects are running smoothly, two key players are responsible for overseeing project development and standards. On the one hand, you have the construction manager overseeing everything that happens at the building stage of the project. On the other hand, the project manager oversees the entire project across stages from planning to delivery.

While there are many differences between both of these roles, these complementary players in the construction field are the ones that keep the momentum of the project going and ultimately ensure the successful completion of the construction. By working together, the construction manager and the project manager align contractors, subcontractors, specialty contractors, and other specialists like engineers and architects to turn sketches into buildings.

Given the nature of the project manager role, individuals who want to become project managers have unique skills and abilities that balance education, training, certification, and skills. On the other hand, the construction manager role is just as important and complex but deals primarily with the project’s construction stage. These specialists ensure alignment in multiple stages and with numerous stakeholders and are ultimately responsible for successful construction projects.

Functions of Construction Project Management

As we have already discussed, project managers are essential for any project’s overall success and development. Without a person leading and ensuring everyone is on the same page, it would be challenging to ensure that things happen at the right time and with the proper specifications. 

While the functions of construction management may vary, they can usually be categorized into six essential buckets. Each of these aspects are the ones that an experienced project manager must master to ensure project quality and success: 

  • Project Planning: This activity clearly defines workers’ tasks, as well as time estimates and dependencies for each activity. 
  • Cost Management: Making sure that all aspects of the project stay within budget.
  • Time Management: Ensuring everyone does the right thing at the right time.
  • Quality Management: Thoroughly examining deliverable quality to ensure excellence.
  • Contract Administration: Ensure the paperwork and admin work is updated and done correctly.
  • Safety Management: Ensuring safety procedures are met to prevent risks.

Construction Project Management Bidding Process

Comprehending how you run projects in your construction company is vital to improving your bidding process and ultimately getting more contracts. While it is industry standard that your close rate is around 20%, being fully aware of how your internal projects run and the strategies you can use to maximize results and reduce budgets helps construction companies stand out.

While public and private projects have different bidding processes, both have an initial stage in which they build a bid package, which includes specifications, requirements, type of contract, delivery methods, and insurance requirements. At this stage, having transparent project management practices can help you become more efficient and competitive when bidding while reducing the time to submit your bid. 

Multiple stages must occur after submitting your bid before choosing the right contractor. However, providing a solid and competitive bid makes it easier for developers to select your company and move forward to create a contract.

Stages and Phases of Construction Project Management

The best way to set up your project management standards to improve your operations and profitability is to break down complex projects into phases. While some projects may have additional stages, these are the most common phases for most projects:

Project Planning

As the name suggests, this is the very beginning of the project, where the project owner creates the plan for the construction project. This process usually takes into account not just how the building must be done but also a clear business case that is feasible and profitable. Given the complicated nature of planning projects of this scale, usually, a multidisciplinary team of architects, engineers, and sometimes even contractors and trade contractors support the project owner or developer to determine if it makes sense to move forward with the project. 

Once the project has a clear business case, a schematic design, including materials, colors, and textures, is built to create the contract documents for the bidding process. Having a specific and accurate way to showcase your technical expertise as a contractor or subcontractor helps you build your reputation and improve your bid-to-contract rate.

As you can see, construction project planning can help your company stand out and become a partner, allowing project owners to make things possible with efficient and budget-friendly practices.

Pre-Construction Phase

Once the bidding process is finished and the developer or project owner knows the contractor doing the work, the team puts the team together that would be required for the project. Generally, the core team members for the project are a contract administrator, the project manager, a superintendent, a field engineer, and a health and safety manager: the complementary skills they bring to the table are the ones needed to turn projects into buildings.  

This stage includes preparing the construction site, obtaining permits, creating a strategic plan and a risk management plan, finalizing budgets and design, setting a communications plan, and creating schedules and timelines that work for all stakeholders. 


In this project phase, the procurement manager or purchasing manager does all of the purchases for the construction company’s projects. This includes buying materials, renting tools, and purchasing needed services. 

The challenge here is finding the most cost-effective and appropriate materials for each job while avoiding miscommunication to meet all expectations. Clear communication is a massive differentiating factor in this stage. The more aligned all stakeholders are in terms of expectations for the project, the better it will be for everybody. 

Note: Using construction software can help you improve job costing, align stakeholders, and prevent unexpected costs that mess with your budgets.


Once all the planning and required processes have been carefully planned, the execution stage occurs. Here, the contractors and subcontractors meet to figure out how all the work required will be done without causing any delays and meeting expectations. After all resources are allocated and the work crew labor plans are finished, activities can finally begin.

Once execution starts, the project also has multiple control layers to ensure the proper work is being done, and activities are happening up to standards and timelines, and, if needed, to update the schedules. There is always room for issues regarding execution, and teams must do everything to keep the project running smoothly, on budget, on time, and up to standards. 

Project Closure

Once the project is finished, the punch list is delivered, stating all the issues that happened and must be fixed before the final delivery. Afterward, all contractors and subcontractors attend to those final touches to ensure the project is ready to be closed and that all equipment and systems are correctly built. 

Finally, after successful completion and acceptance of delivery, the budget closeout happens, paying the final amounts pending to stakeholders and closing the entire project.

Delivery Methods for Construction Project Managers

Completing a construction project requires input and collaboration between several parties. The project is initiated by a project owner. Architects and engineers are needed to manage the aesthetic and technical aspects of building design. A general contractor is hired to perform the work. The general contractor employs a construction project manager who oversees the project schedule and budget. The general contractor may perform some or all of the work required by the contract. They may also hire subcontractors to deliver on portions of the project requirements.

For a given project, the project owner chooses a delivery method that defines the working relationships between the parties involved in the project. Most projects are completed using one of the following four delivery methods:

Design-Bid-Build – In the design-bid-build method, the design and construction processes are entirely separated. The project owner hires an architect to design the project, but does not choose a contractor until the design phase has been completed.  Once the design has been finalized, the project owner will take bids from contractors for the work. This method is popular because it allows project owners to provide very specific project requirements for contractors to bid on. Once a contractor has been selected, they may hire one or more subcontracting companies to deliver specific aspects of the project.

Design-Build – Design-build is an alternative to design-bid-build that seeks to shorten project completion times by having the same party handle the design and construction phases. A design-build contractor offers architectural, engineering and contracting services, and also maintains relationships with subcontractors whose services complement their own capabilities. Project owners may prefer the design-build project delivery method as it reduces the project completion time and it creates a single point of responsibility for the entire project.

Integrated project delivery (IPD) – Integrated project delivery is an emerging project delivery model that employs a team-based approach to the design and construction process. In this model, the parties working on the project enter into a multi-party agreement and work collaboratively throughout the entire design and construction process. The multi-party agreement aligns the incentives of all parties, offering incentives based on the performance of the project. Close collaboration between architects, building engineers, technical consultants, an MEP contractor, and a project manager helps to reduce waste throughout the process and encourages each contributor to look beyond their own role and focus on maximizing project outcomes for the team as a whole.

Integrated labor delivery (ILD) – Integrated labor delivery is an innovative project delivery method that builds on the IPD framework, integrating concepts from lean construction and the Design Build Institute of America. In the ILD framework, subcontracting organizations participate in the planning, budgeting and scheduling process of the project. Subcontractors may also be included in the initial multi-party agreement as a means of holding them accountable for labor delivery and sharing project risk and reward.

Subcontractors can be involved in projects in very different ways depending on the delivery model. In a design-bid-build contract, subcontractors play a relatively narrow role in project delivery as they are brought in after the design phase and paid a fee to provide labor. In the ILD model, subcontractors are heavily involved in each stage of the construction process from planning to construction and delivery.

Construction Project Management Planning
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Tips for Better Construction Management

Managing a construction project is a time-consuming and complex process. However, to get better at construction project management, you must prioritize the following dimensions:

  • Planning: It’s much easier to plan well than to fix problems once you’re in the execution phase. Spend as much time as needed to ensure your workflow makes sense. 
  • Time: Identify how much time any given task takes and anticipate potential delays. Shall problems arise, be ready for them instead of reacting to them, 
  • Communication: Problems get much more challenging to solve if communication channels aren’t clear. Make sure comm channels are well-established and permanently active. 
  • Team: Having the right people in every role is already half the job. Work with the best people, tools, and materials you can. 
  • Tracking: You can’t improve what you can’t measure. Tracking all updates on any project can also help you in future planning and bidding.
  • Tech: Use the right tools to help you manage your construction projects. Also, remember to include modern digital applications to help you manage and align stakeholders. 
Reasons to Use Best of Breed Mechanical Contractor Software
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Use eSUB for all Your Construction Project Management Needs

Project managers can use eSUB Cloud for all their construction project management needs. With our platform, subcontractors can access multiple tools that facilitate monitoring progress on the job site, help align all stakeholders, share documents and project files, and improve job costing. 

Learn how you can use eSUB Cloud in your company to improve project management and grow your business.

Construction Site
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