Effective project management is vital to the timely delivery of a construction project. In an industry where each project has several stakeholders, budget constraints, and scheduling issues, a construction project manager needs to be prepared to face challenges and ensure the completion of a project.
The issues construction project managers are tasked to handle may come as a direct result of the construction operations or indirectly from peripheral activities and events. Sometimes, these issues are exacerbated by some key challenges that many project managers are very familiar with — here are five of them.
1. Budget Management
According to McKinsey & Company, cost overruns are the norm in the construction sector, with projects taking up to 80% over the budget. Inaccurate estimates during the start of the construction process inevitably leave project managers dealing with budget overruns in the future. Thus, due diligence during the pre-construction phase and setting realistic cost expectations from architects and contractors is vital to the success of a construction project.
Geological issues are one of the major reasons for going over the budget. If there are discrepancies between the early survey estimate and the actual ground condition, the project design will require costly changes. Project managers need to identify these issues early on and set contingencies in place in order to minimize their impact on the budget.
2. Time Constraints
Time management is the bulk of a project manager’s responsibilities. Because stakeholders view time constraints as the issue that result in lost revenue, defective design and even a higher rate of accidents, project managers need to focus on how to tackle this challenge head-on. Missed deadlines and scheduling conflicts lead to inefficient construction operations which snowball into more delays and translate to higher costs.
Because of this, it’s imperative for construction project managers to set strict time frames and monitor enforcement to ensure construction deadlines are met. Weather conditions and events that may cause delays could be mitigated through proper planning. Time management also involves keeping suppliers and subcontractors on track, especially when dealing with documentation and long lead times. To manage these issues, project scheduling and tracking methods are indispensable tools for a construction project manager.
3. Safety Issues
Construction projects are dangerous by nature. Construction workers face risks at a constant basis including trips, falls, and chemical hazards Because of the bodily injuries and loss of life that come from construction operations, safety should be a paramount concern for all construction project managers. The financial losses can be huge, but the social impact of injuries and deaths on the workforce, the company, and the community is more significant.
One of the best ways to improve safety is to create a project-specific construction safety plan. At a minimum, it should comply with safety regulations prescribed by the law. Project managers should also conduct regular site inspections to monitor safety performance. For a team-focused approach, project managers should consult workforce personnel about safety prior to the start of the project.
4. Poor Communication
As project managers have the central role of managing stakeholders, project owners, suppliers, and subcontractors, they are also responsible for maintaining an open line of communication between parties. Poor communication in a construction project leads to delays and even the project’s noncompletion. The team can miss important tasks and remain unaware of issues until it is too late.
Project managers need to enact clear communication guidelines and make them known to all parties. There should be a clear line of communication that enables the project manager to track the construction progress and obstacles encountered during the day. Having a regular schedule for in-person meetings helps in solving problems quickly.
5. Unrealistic Expectations
While construction project managers need to manage their subordinates, they also must be able to deal with their superiors. These could be the clients, the consultants, the board, as well as government agencies. Sometimes, superiors have unrealistic expectations and want some of their suggestions put into action immediately. Dealing with impossible deadlines and unreasonable requests can dampen workforce morale and doom the construction project.
A project manager’s soft skills and negotiation strategies are important in this kind of situation. Project managers should be able to advocate for their subordinates and communicate their feedback to lead the project back on track.
Construction managers face project management issues in all phases of the construction process. These issues have a significant impact on the success of the project. Construction project managers need to be proactive in looking for opportunities to solve these problems before it is too late.
About the author: Chris Woodard is the Co-Founder of Handle.com, where they build software that helps construction businesses get paid faster by automating the collection process of unpaid commercial invoices.