Practical Construction Project Management Tips and Insights From Experts: How to Improve Construction Work
Construction projects often take months or years and may involve hundreds of phases. Even experienced managers must constantly learn and accept basic construction project management tips to reach the professional top.
We’ve rounded up some insights from the industry experts to help project managers maintain control from a project start to its finish. Follow them and be head and shoulders above those who don’t work within professional frames.
Construction project management tips
- Hire a professional team.
- Explore the details before starting any project.
- Plan ahead.
- Boost communication.
- Track changes.
- Monitor construction costs.
- Establish documentation processes.
- Keep meetings brief and productive.
- Prioritize team safety.
- Embrace reporting.
- Listen to the experts but stay the only source of truth.
According to the statistics, there are nearly 8 million people employed by the American construction industry alone. A significant portion of their work success depends on how they manage tasks and projects.
Even if you are a professional manager, reliable construction project management tips will help you stay on your toes and always keep your projects afloat.
Let’s outline 12 general tips and tricks that construction project managers can apply to simplify their daunting work.
1. Hire a professional team
The results of managers’ work directly depend on the performance of their teams. It’s rather important to hire professionals who know what they do so that you can free yourself to perform other things.
Compiling a high-performing team is not as difficult as it may seem. You just need to find a few key people who have enough experience and skills to handle most of the construction management duties.
It’s also critical to define the concept of work culture. You may hire people to work in the office, remotely, or propose individual contracts.
Here’s what Alamira Albash, the co-founder at CONSTAL, thinks about this:
A construction business’ greatest value lies in its people. But traditional workforces lack agility and dynamism. The future belongs to organizations that create a flexible, hybrid workforce. Having a hybrid workforce (employees and independent professionals) is considered a key for companies’ success.
2. Explore the details before starting any project
Studying all details of your future project before planning its stages and collecting as much data as possible is another crucial point in our set of construction project management tips.
The more details you have, the better you will control your project lifecycle and prepare for unexpected situations that may occur in the future.
Arrange your own research and try to get information from clients, construction specialists, and vendors.
Finding out the general details of a future project does not require the use of multifunctional tools, so you can apply a regular construction project checklist for this purpose. It will help you prepare to plan and record all critical events and activities.
You should also pay attention to setting realistic goals to work competently. Establishing goals and objectives in accordance with the popular Smart goals concept will guarantee that your project will be managed and completed smoothly.
Make sure all your project goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
3. Plan ahead
One of the most vital tips for managing construction projects is to plan ahead. It is crucial for construction project managers to have foresight on how to resolve issues that are likely to arise.
They have to create a visual management plan that usually follows the key phases of construction project management, including:
Make sure you define a deliverable for the end of each stage, which can be visualized as a milestone in project management. It will help you measure progress and success. Don’t forget to assess your project team’s performance at the end of each phase to ensure your project is on schedule.
It’s important to keep in mind that construction plans and schedules can change frequently. You may need to adjust and improve your plan, depending on the previous phase of the project.
Effective planning requires attention, experience, and the use of a professional online planner.
One of the excellent examples of such a planner is GanttPRO.
The platform offers a powerful online Gantt chart. It visualizes all work processes you need to accomplish within your construction project as well as the resources required to complete them. You can order key stages of your timeline and manage them with the drag-and-drop feature.
In addition to a professional diagram, you get a range of advanced PM features including:
- Task management.
- Portfolio management.
- Resource management
- Time tracking.
- Budget management.
- Helpful templates, and more.
Thanks to this robust construction scheduling software, you can get a clear picture of your tasks, track progress, set deadlines, and make your schedules easy to manage.
This is confirmed by George Rossle, a production manager at A+ Construction Pro:
With GanttPRO, I do not lose control of tasks and their dates. Once I create a dependency, I am sure we won’t mess up or lose something. For us, GanttPRO is a basic tool for planning and management. We use the software for deadline management and time tracking, file sharing, and smart scheduling.
4. Boost communication locally and remotely
The next point from the set of construction project management tips relates to communication.
Effective communication in construction ensures that each professional working on the project is aware of the defined goals and expectations, no matter whether they work in the office or at a construction site. It helps teams work more efficiently and improves the quality of the construction scope of work.
If your team and clients collaborate in the right manner, you achieve transparency, so everyone works better from the project’s start to its finish.
This is how Nikoloz Medzmariashvili, CEO at m2 Development LLC, evaluates communication processes in his company:
We constantly implement new standards and maintain communication with our clients to identify their needs and expectations. We also try to keep an individual approach to maintain an emotional connection with our customers.
Make sure you communicate regularly with all people involved in the project, including subcontractors, suppliers, clients, stakeholders, and staff.
You can use emails and messengers to get information and confirmations. However, a reliable online collaboration platform is what will better organize your communication and keep all people on the same page.
Simple platforms allow for sending alerts to your team and getting responses from them, while multifunctional project management tools can do more.
For example, the above-mentioned GanttPRO provides a set of features for team collaboration. You can take advantage of handy notifications, comments, and attachments there.
Using the Gantt chart maker, you can easily communicate with everyone in your office and outside it thanks to the friendly GanttPRO mobile apps for iOS and Android.
5. Track changes
Setbacks are inevitable. Construction project managers must do their best to deal with them as soon as these setbacks occur.
The preconstruction, design, and procurement stages of any project require extensive preparations. Each stage may need to be revised before the next one can unfold.
Try to adapt and adjust to changes as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may face a loss of profit, unhappy clients, and even construction project delays.
Don’t rush to conclusions and try to find the root cause that led to the changes.
Here’s the advice from Felipe Engineer-Manriquez, the expert in the construction industry and the author of the book “Construction Scrum“:
Don’t add more people or resources. When a project is late, adding more people can delay further. This has been proven in industries like IT and construction and can add more chaos and pressure. Don’t throw more money at the project.
GanttPRO helps to keep all changes under control.
Thanks to the auto-scheduling feature, your project dates will be reconsidered automatically any time changes occur.
You will be able to follow your project schedules without inaccuracies and track all task dependencies with ease.
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6. Monitor construction costs
The list of the top tips for construction project management should be also supplemented with recommendations related to the competent budget issues.
From the bidding process to the last stage of the construction workflow, project managers are responsible for monitoring every cost that relates to the budget. Understanding these costs helps them to make better decisions about required methods and materials and ultimately boost productivity.
You can improve your construction budget management by using appropriate software. It will allow for logging all expenses, calculating costs, and tracking budget changes.
GattPRO is also a good helper here. With its assistance, you will bring your financial plans to life, organize construction budgeting, and get a clear picture of your upcoming spending.
By the way, the platform provides a set of friendly construction project management templates, among which you may find a construction budget template.
You can easily share it with your colleagues, partners, subcontractors, or vendors if needed. The template can be exported in PDF, PNG, XML, or Excel formats.
7. Establish documentation processes
Ensuring that all documentation is in place, updated, and consistently tracked is equally as important as the rest factors of efficient construction project management.
From the very start of your project to its actual closeout, documentation needs to be carefully managed and signed by the stakeholders.
Professional construction PM software can enhance document flow and internal collaboration by driving real-time data to everyone on the team.
GanttPRO can be surely considered a secure place to keep all your files, notes, and documents organized. You get a single spot to store, update, and track your data.
GanttPRO assists in planning, organizing, and completing work processes of any complexity in offices and at construction sites. It makes it a highly demanded online construction project management software solution.
8. Delegate tasks
Delegation doesn’t mean telling your colleagues what they should do and when. It’s more about making sure your team has the right skills and knowledge to carry out specific tasks.
Let’s say, it’s not a good idea to ask juniors to set pricing plans, nor to request the seniors to complete a minor routine with low priority.
All project managers involved in the construction sphere should know how to delegate tasks properly. It involves responsibilities that may often change as the project scope changes.
To avoid overload, assign different tasks to your team members and provide them with instructions to complete all the activities effectively.
In GanttPRO, you can assign users to separate projects as well as assign tasks both to team members and to virtual resources.
There are 3 types of resources you can add in the Gantt chart maker:
- Labor resources.
- Material resources.
- Resources with a fixed cost.
It’s possible to set values for them per hour, per item, or just per cost, and define their personal calendars. You can assign as many resources to any specific task as required and distribute working hours.
9. Keep meetings brief and productive
The role of a project manager requires attending numerous meetings. However, these meetings are not always necessary and useful. Many of them are poorly run.
Therefore, it’s important to ensure that all your meetings follow a set agenda and control the discussions that go off the topic.
Project managers should be prepared for the meetings with answers and points that need to be discussed.
It’s important to skip minor arguments or items where you are clearly wrong. They will only waste time and irritate your team.
Make sure your meeting agendas are conveniently organized and visualized. For this purpose, you can use a friendly GanttPRO timeline – it will ensure that no important point or deadline will be lost during discussions.
As an extra option for planning your meeting on a timeline, you can organize your work on cards. A handy board will give you one more transparent way to manage your tasks and ideas with drag and drop.
10. Prioritize team safety
Safety must be the core priority regardless of the project type or your budget as there is nothing more important than human life.
This point is also closely connected to planning. The more your project gets out of control, the bigger stress project stakeholders face. Therefore, by maintaining safety you will avoid serious incidents, and most of your tasks will be completed faster.
Make safety a priority. Verify standards, avoid chaotic solutions, and use recommended construction equipment.
Don’t hesitate to get your hands dirty. The best construction PM managers are those who manage their teams and projects both in trenches and from offices. The more often you visit a project site, the easier it will be for you to assess quality, productivity, and safety.
Chris Lilley, the health, safety, and wellbeing director at Kier admits:
Keeping our people out of harm’s way is far more than just encouraging words or one-off campaigns. A few years ago, we set ourselves a challenge to become industry leaders regarding safety and well-being and as a result have now successfully embedded a fully integrated safety-first culture throughout all that we do. Over 90% of our operations are OHSAS 18001 certified, ensuring we deliver occupational health and safety management best practices.
11. Embrace reporting
Detailed reporting demonstrates when and how much time your workers have spent on specific tasks from specific projects.
It’s better to have such information in one place. Therefore it’s critical to find appropriate software with handy reports to see the total time spent on tasks and intervals.
In GanttPRO, you can create time log reports that will reflect such details as projects, tasks, dates, users, time, and comments.
12. Listen to experts but stay the only source of truth
There are no better sources of wealth at any construction site than experience and knowledge.
You should always involve your team experts in decision-making, as experience is the best teaching tool. Your workers can point out the maneuvers to solve problems, as well as predict and mitigate construction hurdles.
Don’t hesitate to educate young specialists. Time and money spent helping your team grow can be a phenomenal investment.
At the same time, it’s very important for any project manager to be the only source of reliable information.
Here is what Ali Salour, a senior project manager at Stonemark thinks about this:
Clients are surrounded by designers, architects, and others who provide advice from their specific areas of expertise. Construction managers are the only objective source of truth on a project, the single most important source of counsel for each client with a new building or renovation project because we see the big picture from every angle.
Keeping these construction project management tips in mind will help you counter challenges and improve work processes.
Don’t hesitate to complement this list of recommendations and choose proper construction project management software such as GanttPRO to make your projects the best ones in the industry.