Top 4 Secrets of Successful Construction Project Managers
As a construction project manager, so much rests on your shoulders. There may be hundreds of individuals working on a construction site, but it’s up to you to keep everything in order and ensure all goals are met.
It’s no easy job, not even for the industry’s best project managers. So how do they seem to ace every project?
They have a few tricks, but they’re rooted more in diligence than superhuman talent. It all comes down to using sharp strategies and prudent planning. In this post, we cover four top secrets of project managers that consistently get great results.
1. Clear Communication is a Priority
When things go wrong in the course of a construction project, the issue usually stems from a problem with communication. This is because projects depend on a great number of people to constantly coordinate and work together. Just one small miscommunication can result in delays, cash-flow problems, or wasted labor and materials.
Good project managers know that the best way to prevent hiccups is to prioritize clarity in communication, and they do this by taking some of the following measures:
Keep Documentation Clear
Check that all project briefs, plans, and contracts are easy to understand and aren’t missing any critical information. If plans change, don’t neglect to supply all need-to-know personnel with updated documents that reflect the adjustments.
Choose the Best Channels
You’ll need to choose a mode of communication that allows you to contact your crew quickly and efficiently. It’s easiest to stay organized if you stick to one. Project management apps can be used as centralized hubs where you can handle all communications, including assigning tasks to team members and tracking their progress.
Establish a Chain of Command
When you establish a chain of command, you make it easy for your crew to recognize who’s responsible for what. This clarity helps your crew maintain accountability and ensure that they get information to the right people.
Hold Regular Meetings
Too many meetings can put a dent in productivity, but too few can cause projects to unravel. Hold both formal and informal meetings regularly to make sure that you’re following up on critical points and addressing current issues. Get everyone from on and off-site together, including subcontractors and other relevant parties.
2. Cost Management isn’t a Step, it’s Ongoing
Savvy project managers have cost management in mind from start to finish. They make sure that they establish accurate budgets at the beginning, and they understand the importance of including a “buffer” in that estimate. When cost overruns come up (as they can with even the most careful planning), they can rest easy knowing their budget won’t be blown.
If you too are going to avoid major overruns, you’ve got to stay on top of your budget. Regularly review it and update as needed, using analysis to inform any cuts or expansions. Leveraging tech like real-time project management software can help you measure staff attendance, track material deliveries, and monitor any other factors that could affect costs.
3. Time is Managed with Smart Strategies
With so many tasks to account for in a construction project, it can be easy to lose control of the timeline. Successful project managers rely on a few clever strategies to keep things moving smoothly:
Plan for Delays
Just like with costs, your project’s plans should always include a buffer for your schedule. If you plan your timeline with razor-thin margins, you and your crew will be in panic mode when something comes up (and it usually does).
Avoid Over-promising and Under-delivering
Be realistic about your project’s schedule. While you may want to delight your client by promising a speedy delivery, there will only be disappointment all around if it’s too much of a strain. Your client will feel short changed if your team can’t keep up, and your crew will feel overworked. Even if you do manage to meet the deadline, doing a rushed job usually leads to lower quality work that fails to impress.
Prioritise Crew Safety Over Speed
Lower morale isn’t the only thing crew can suffer from when they’re pressed for time. They’re also in greater danger of being injured while working. If your project’s schedule is compromising the safety of your job site, you need to step back and make some adjustments.
Don’t Let Yourself Get Swamped
The best project managers understand that their own time management is critical for holding everything together. Without some delegation and streamlining, you can get bogged down by endless e-mails, calls, and impromptu meetings. If your time is taken up by too many administrative tasks, you lose the time you need to manage your project effectively.
4. There’s Always a Contingency Plan
Construction projects are complex. And when something’s complex, there are more opportunities for something to go wrong. That’s why top project managers always have a contingency plan in place. They don’t hope for the best, they prepare for the worst.
Whether it’s bad weather, a delayed delivery, or a subcontractor’s sudden change in prices, you should have plans in place for a variety of possible setbacks.
You can use your experience from past projects to help you identify what are the most likely risks. What went wrong in the past, and why? What would have prevented the problem, or at least made it easier to solve? Use the answers to shape your contingency plan.
Part of your preparations should include the formation of a crisis team that will be ready to respond when trouble strikes. Pick capable, self-driven individuals who have the skills to tackle big problems and keep a level head.
Level-up Your Project Management
Now that you know some of the success strategies used by the industry’s best project managers, you’ll have the tools you need to join their ranks.