Almost every construction project involves teams of different sizes and long-drawn-out timelines, which, more often than not, makes project management an overwhelming task. Staying current on bids, project materials, sub-contracted costs, and deadlines while juggling office paperwork and other responsibilities can sometimes become challenging.
Nevertheless, it's relevant to note that commencing the project with a solid foundation is the key to a successful construction project. And that's the reason why construction planning is the first and one of the most vital steps of project management. It begins well in advance of the architecture and design processes.
Primarily, construction planning is a process exceedingly essential to executing a healthy project. It refers to establishing the scope of the project, its milestones, project teams, and other crucial aspects. Project managers capitalize on this process to define construction activities and schedules for every component of the construction project.
Most contractors reckon that investing plenty of time in the project's planning phase helps guarantee affordable construction, as this mitigates the possibilities of changes during the ongoing project. Since changes in orders after the initiation of the construction project can be costly, it seems logical that timely project planning can yield excellent results.
Ahead are some effective planning tips for construction managers that can lead to more impactful project execution:
Design the site layout
Irrespective of the site's size, it should ensure a safe space for the equipment the project's team members will need to execute the project smoothly. Therefore, establish a site layout – outline easily recognizable routes for the site workers and assign space for the construction machinery and other vehicles to move about without risk.
That said, it's also critical to protect the construction site even when not in use. Unfortunately, tool theft and vandalism are common challenges plaguing the construction industry for quite a long time. So, it gives all the more reasons to install temporary fencing around the construction site to maintain the integrity and restrict the entrance of unauthorized people. Not only this but fencing also serves as a visual barrier for pedestrians, passers-by, and drivers.
Moreover, workers' health and safety are just as important as the construction project's success. So, ensure to use appropriate construction tools and equipment and install multipurpose welfare units.
Establish project goals
Even when construction managers accurately understand what they need to deliver, it's imperative to define the project goals and objectives. If failed to establish goals, it could create a massive gap between the expectation and outcomes.
So, a crucial step in bringing the construction project to life is coming up with a project initiation document (PID). This document addresses the conventional areas of project management, i.e., initiation, planning, launch, performance, and closure. Managers can practice measured control by adding incremental solutions to the construction project based on these areas.
The document also describes the parameters of budget and resources and delineates crew members. For instance, it specifies the number of teams needed, such as subcontractors, carpenters, plumbers, and building surveyors. And to turn the PID document into a more definitive and concrete project plan, project managers can develop SMART goals.
Practice effective communication
Excellent communication is the foundation for staying on schedule and successfully executing the construction project. Construction project managers should develop communication protocols and procedures to remain in contact with their subordinates. This way, project managers can troubleshoot the issues and work out delays before they snowball into significant problems and lead to missed deadlines.
It's also relevant to note that several aspects can change as the project makes headway. Given this, it's best to keep the crew members in the loop and enlighten them about future amendments. While emails are an effective way to stay in touch with team members, accessing them on-site is often challenging. So, construction managers can choose to schedule bi-weekly meetings or conference calls to maintain a good workflow. In this manner, managers can avoid misunderstandings, delays, and other challenges that could otherwise hamper the project's progress.
Further, project managers should determine team members' strengths and weaknesses to assign tasks accordingly and maximize performance based on experience.
Come up with contingency plans
There are several ways a construction project can get off the rails, as these projects involve plenty of risk factors. If not pinpointed earlier, the risk factors may impede the project's performance and lead to delays. Therefore, project managers should periodically assess the master plan and identify risks that can hamper the project.
Managers should ask the crew members to specify the budget cuts, the likelihood of order changes, and unexpected events related to the construction site and weather conditions. And besides crafting a risk mitigation plan, managers should also pay heed to other critical areas such as funding requirements, the impact of financials, and authorization of budget cycles.
Coming up with contingency plans is also the best approach to resolve issues before they spiral out of control. For instance, construction managers may need to ask the teams to work overtime if they fall behind schedule. Or perhaps the weather conditions may compel managers to purchase more equipment or bring in extra labor to finish the work on time.
Execute the project and track the progress
Once construction managers have dealt with the crucial aspects of the planning phase, now is the time to execute the project. Call a meeting to peruse the construction plan and activities. During this team meeting, managers should talk to the subordinates to discuss the expectations regarding the project. Not only this, but managers should also grant crew members an opportunity to ask questions about something they don't understand.
Next, construction managers should keep tabs on the performance of the subordinates to ensure they stick to the parameters defined for the project. Often managers use data from the key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine the project's progress. Some common KPIs include project performance, project objectives, and quality.
Pay extra attention to those aspects of the project that ran over the deadline or were finished way before the defined timeline. It can help identify the reasons for discrepancies within the master schedule and enhance planning for forthcoming projects.
It's worth noting that there are various more crucial aspects of construction project planning than what meets the eye. Essentially, the construction management process necessitates extensive planning and scheduling for the smooth and timely execution of the project.
The project's pre-construction, design, procurement, and post-construction stages require meticulous attention to detail and far-reaching planning. And it's imperative to revise each of these before the project's next phase unfurls. Therefore, document every stage of work and keep the stakeholders apprised of the progress. Also, ensure timely communication and collaboration among crew members to increase the project's success rate.
And while setbacks are inevitable in any construction project, it's pivotal to develop contingency plans and deal with the obstacles to keep the project on schedule. A good yardstick to identify risks and potential issues is to keep tabs on the project's performance. This way, companies can gauge the project's efficacy and make well-informed choices about upcoming projects.