By Rieva Lesonsky, CEO GrowBiz Media & SmallBizDaily.com
Successful project management is the key to a successful construction project. According to The Project Management Institute, there are five phases of project management.
1. Initiation: Decide the scope of the project and what is to be done.
2. Planning: Develop a project management plan or document that includes the project scope, cost, basic schedule, and key milestones.
3. Execution: Using the project management plan, assign resources — such as workers, equipment, materials — and schedule and perform work.
4. Performance and Monitoring: Monitor what is accomplished each day against the project management plan. Then adjust the plan as necessary.
5. Closure: When the project is completed, review the project management plan and what you learned from it.
The Five Key Factors to Keep in Mind When Developing and Implementing Your Project Management Plan
1. Contingency Plans
Before you begin the project, assess the possible risks. For example, if you’re starting a construction project in the winter, you’re likely to hit some delays due to bad weather. If the cost of a material you plan to use is fluctuating wildly, what will you do if the price doubles midway through the project? Your project management plan should include contingency plans for dealing with these types of foreseeable problems.
Communication among all your team members is vital to keeping a construction project on track. Set up a system for communicating each day, including schedules, work crew assignments, start and end times at each job site, and what tasks are to be completed that day. Make sure the key players — including the project foreman, the project manager, any subcontractors, and the client — are informed of what they need to know. The more instantaneous communication is, the better. Waiting for people to read their emails and follow up on complicated email chains adds unnecessary delays and confusion. Look for construction industry tools that help you alert your team of last-minute changes to plans. A mobile scheduling app is invaluable in enabling everyone, whether on the job site or in the office, to keep abreast of what’s happening in real time.
3. Adequate Resources
From manpower to rebar, having the right materials in place at the right time is vital to the success of any construction project. Continuously monitoring what is happening on each job site during the day will help you spot potential problems with resources so you can nip them in the bud. For example, time tracking apps that use GPS to confirm which workers are where will ensure you get an accurate headcount of how many employees are on site. Hold onsite foremen accountable for updating information about materials and equipment. That way, if a job uses more materials than expected, you’ll be able to compensate by delivering additional material for the next day.
4. Accurate Timelines
The client’s eagerness to have the job done, plus your desire to maximize profits, can lead to overly optimistic time frames. This is understandable, but in order to avoid disappointment on the client’s part (not to mention excessive stress on your workers), it’s important to build in adequate time to complete the work safely. Based on past project management plans, you should be able to estimate how much “padding” is needed in the time frame to allow for unexpected delays. This will help you manage your clients’ expectations, which is critical to client satisfaction, and avoid scope creep.
When the construction project is done, be sure to set aside time for phase five:
What went wrong on the way to completing the project? What can you learn from and apply next time you do a similar project? How well did your contingency plans, communications systems, and timelines work?
With each completed project, you’ll gain new knowledge that will help you fine-tune your next construction project management plan — and build a more successful construction business.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.