While project management is best defined as “the art of directing and coordinating human and material resources throughout the life of a project by using modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality and participation satisfaction,” construction management necessitates a thorough understanding of design, construction processes and modern business management. Read on for a closer look at some features, stages and challenges of construction projects, and the role of their managers.
Construction Projects: Not an Easy Affair
To see success, a construction project has to begin with a clear definition and justification of the project. Then, it needs to proceed in line with a detailed strategic plan to deliver demonstrable outcomes. There are certain elements related to the strategic planning process that will tend to differ from one project to another in scope, size and location. Overall, it is not an easy task to manage construction based projects as they usually have ambiguous scope. It is tough to allocate all available resources, in the best possible ways, to get optimum returns. In most cases, huge construction projects, like those involving the building of flyovers, bridges, electric transmission centers , commercial structures, residential complexes , and so forth, are well-budgeted and require the intervention of qualified and highly experienced project managers. In addition, they necessitate strict adherence to certain factors of construction management
Role of Project Managers in Construction Projects
The role of a project manager in construction based projects also varies from one project to another. While some organizations seek the services of multiple managers for addressing the different modules of a very large sized project, others may go in for a singular project manager because of low work quantum. The recruitment and participation of managers is based on the expanse and allocated budget of each project. The highest levels of coordination are a must among all project managers. Sometimes, it becomes essential to recruit a program manger to take care of all the facets of the construction project, and in association with other project managers
Construction projects require the expertise of managers who have complete knowledge about the basics of project management and are equipped to handle construction-type projects successfully. They should be aware of the entire scope of the project, location of the site, the political and cultural systems prevailing in the city/ town where the project is based, issues influencing human resources, climatic conditions, and so forth. These certified professionals should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills too. For the smooth execution and completion of any construction project, it is very important for managers to understand all resource influencers, and then handle the different stages of construction accordingly.
Construction Project Management: Different Stages
The different stages of construction project management include:
Project Planning (Acquisition, Environmental clearance, etc.)
A project manager must have a complete understanding of the different parts of a capital improvement plan (CIP) and the ways of developing the same. This stage includes the creation of CIP, allotment and identification of capital needs and assets, prioritization of different processes within the CIP, financial planning for balancing the sources of funds and overall expenditures available in an organization, and so forth.
Once a construction project has been authorized, the concerned manager has plan how the same needs to be implemented. Along with having a clear concept about all project deliverables, and every small project requirement, a project manager should be able to co- ordinate all Critical Success Factors, Key Performance Indicators, and other measurable metrics of the project too. Once all the factors have been acquired and planned for implementation, it becomes easy to move to the next stage of the project.
Project Planning (Acquisition, Environmental Clearance, etc.)
A critical stage in all construction projects, this phase steers a project manager through several planning processes, environment clearance activities, purchase of real estate, and so forth. All compliance and regulatory issues need to be handled well at this stage; else, they may lead to grave problems in future. Along with being legally cumbersome and very expensive, any negligence with regards to obtaining clearances, licenses, permits and other statutory ‘go-aheads’ will make schedules go haywire too.
Freezing of the final design, adhering to the different factors of value engineering, creation of graphs and drawings, etc. are the key processes dominating this stage of construction project management. Complete quality control and quality assurance are the key factors for the success of this design phase.
Once the execution of the different construction processes begin, it becomes important for managers to keep a close watch to manage the overall costs, scope and schedules of the project. At this stage, project managers would be working along with third party vendors, contractors, and other agencies. They also have to ensure product delivery at pre-determined prices.
Advance planning with regards to all commissioning processes goes a long way in reducing the risks linked with prolonging construction projects. This stage consists of the definition of roles and responsibilities, commissioning of plans, integrated testing, furnishing of equipment, emergency preparedness, and so forth. In other words, this stage of the project includes the validation of contractors, third party vendors, equipment, systems, as well as operation personnel.
Construction project-closing activities include overseeing of the final settlement of various project contracts, securing of deliverable acceptance from clients, release of resources post project completion, etc. In addition, project managers need to document all pertinent information relevant to the project for use in future, similar projects.
Challenges facing the successful completion of construction projects are indeed many. However, with proper planning and implementation, monitoring of processes, feedback, control, timely project delivery, and so forth, it becomes easy to reap rich benefits from such projects.