Construction Project Management: Complete Guide for Beginners

04 January 2021

Building construction is more than a monetary investment. It is a reflection of collaborative efforts from the clients, contractors, and other stakeholders. In this way, an ideal building requires effective construction project management. However, dealing with construction projects is a daunting task. It requires pro-active thinking, active planning, and vigilant supervision, besides just vision and expertise. The contractors should pay attention to the detail while bidding on a construction project as little things can get messed up, leading to disruption and disputes. Are you going to enter the construction industry? Or already have extensive experience? No matter what, effective management of the project is an art based on critical skills. This guide aims to provide you a detailed guide for essential concepts of project management in construction. Surely, you will admire reading the post!

What is construction project management (CPM)?

In simplest words, project management in construction is referred to the art of directing and regulating material and human resources throughout the project life cycle using different management tools and techniques. It includes comprehensive planning, cooperation, coordination, regulation, and control of the project activities for on-time completion. The chief objective of the CPM is to meet the requirements of clients while accomplishing functionally vibrant and money-wise optimal projects. The industry of construction consists of five significant sectors, including civil, environmental, commercial, industrial, and residential. Effective management of the project applies to all these sectors without any difference. Many people misunderstand construction management with construction project management (CPM). It is imperative to understand that CPM is a broader term comprising all essential activities of the project from the administration to operations. In comparison, construction management deals with the operational management of the project in the construction sector. Additionally, the construction managers and project managers hold the rights and responsibilities at every phase of the project. It distinguishes the role of professionals and experts for comprehensive construction project management.

History and significance of project management in construction

Magnificent malls and skyscrapers tell the untold history of construction management. Initially, the architects were admired for creating complicated building structures where the role of project managers and contractors was overlooked. You surely have heard about the architects of the aqueducts of Rome and the Great Pyramids of Egypt. In fact, effective management had helped in building such masterpieces. The present-day construction industry is the outcome of rigorous advancement in the field of management. It is evident from the fact that more than 7 million roles of project managers are added to the construction industry between the years 2010 - 2020. A recent survey conducted by Autodesk & Dodge Data reported that around 68% of survey participants consider poor schedule management is the most critical factor of low productivity of labor. It leads to project underperformance. Owing to this, it is safe to say that effective management is crucial for on-time project delivery.

Principles of construction project management

There is no denying that the management of construction projects is a complicated process of technical and non-technical activities. During this period, the contractors deal with several things based on the fundamental principles. Let’s consider the basics of construction project management in a bit of detail as given:

Goals and objectives of the project

The goals and objectives deal with the question, “what’s required to be done?” It gives a good start for initiating the project. It is imperative to note that defining project goals is essential to get an overall structure of the project. The plan leads to the work scenarios under the provision of certain resources for construction.

Structure of the project

Generally, the management of a project revolves around three elements, including resources, time, and quality. Contractors must utilize these parameters by understanding the project structure in detail for optimal management.

Project order and timeline

It deals with the overall schedule of the project designs before the start of construction. For this, the graphical representation of milestones is used for staying aligned with the timeline. Contractors usually rely on flow chart diagrams to provide starting, middle, and ending points for defining sub-goals and ultimate goals.

Definition phase

The definition stage of the project is critical for the success of construction projects. It is because many projects get delayed or disrupted if the project is not defined clearly. The primary reason is that the project definition involves the whole team for improved productivity and commitment.

Transparency throughout the project

Construction projects require transparency in every process, including the project structure, the flowcharts, definition, milestone creation, and other management processes. Owing to this reason, transparency is considered one of the essential activities in construction project management. It helps in eliminating the risks of claims in construction by keeping everything clear among the contracting parties.

Risks assessment and recognition

Nothing is free of risks in this world. The construction projects have to experience ups and downs at some point, owing to the involvement of critical internal and external risks. It can impact the project adversely. Therefore, the managers have to ensure adequate assessment and recognition of risks for optimal project management.

Managing disturbances and disputes

No one has the ultimate capacity to assess all risks associated with construction projects. So, the probability of disturbances always remains present in the projects. In the case that any disruption occurs, the project managers should try to resolve the issues as earliest as possible. If you don’t have the visionary skills of disputes management, you can rely on construction consultants to evaluate the situation to offer a quick solution. It will help in nipping the dispute in the bud.

Business models for managing construction projects

Essentially, project management is the systematic approach towards accomplishing all processes for successful delivery. The bidding process is similar in every project regardless of its nature, size, and type. Based on this concept, the models for construction project management are as given below:

Design-Bid-Build Contracts

This business model for construction project management enables the owners to hire a contractor once the project design is created and approved by the authorities. It is the most popular model for handling projects without the risks of claims.

Design-Build Contracts

Contrary to the design-bid-build approach, this model enables the owners to hand over the whole project to the contractors for A to Z every activity. So, the contracting party is responsible for accomplishing the processes from scratch until completing the project. This business model speeds up the construction process for in-time delivery.

A brief guide to the Stages of Construction Project Management

Project management is the set of rules and skills for handling complicated project structures in construction. The project life cycle in the construction sector begins with bidding, and then owners and potential contractors finalize the contract. However, there is no single organizational structure that can be deployed to ensure successful projects. It means that construction project management is a dynamic approach based on the following stages or phases:

Project design phase

It is the first and foremost important stage of the construction project. The design phase starts once the contract is signed between the clients and bidders. At this point, the contractors use the business models for project management to define a working track based on design-bid contracts or design-build contract models. The design stage of the project management incorporates all essential activities for the initial assessment and feasibility of the projects. The process encompasses the primary requirements of human resources and materials for smooth working and successful project completion.

Pre-construction phase

It is when the contractors have completed the bidding process and the client has finalized the contractor. The contractor collaborates with the other team members, including project managers, administrators, sub-contractors, and other stakeholders. At this stage, construction teams work to prepare the site for construction, along with other tangible activities.

Procurement phase

At this phase, the project teams acquire the required materials and hire labor and other staff for disturbance-free working. In simple words, the stage of procurement is related to the purchase of project materials, which depends on the availability of funds. The contractors handling mega commercial projects acquire the equipment from third-party facilitators and labor providers to ensure the quality and consistency of supplies.

Construction phase

The project managers organize frequent meetings for kicking off the construction. The meet-up sessions help foster communication among the material suppliers, equipment vendors, and subcontractors to initiate the construction process. At this point, the contractors create materials handling policies, define storage areas, and design safety programs for improved working.

Commissioning phase

The commission phase starts after the completion of the construction phase. It has two primary parts. Firstly, the teams test the equipment for proper working to eliminate the risks. Secondly, the employees are trained for the operations and maintenance of the newly constructed building.

Owner occupancy phase

It is the phase when the project is delivered to the owners, and the period of the warranty starts. It is a transitional stage for managing the post-completion activities related to the management of equipment and materials. The construction quality must meet the expectation mentioned in the agreement documents. The contractors have to ensure two types of warranties, such as the contractual and established by the laws.

Project closeout phase

It is the final stage of construction project management. The contractors are responsible for accomplishing the remaining obligations as per the contract. It includes a list of activities, such as a post-project completion review. The final documentation consists of the project completion report and legal confirmation papers.

Ensure effective project management for success in construction!

Generally, people consider the management of a project as simple as the supervision, but it is much more than monitoring processes. In fact, project management is a comprehensive approach that helps project managers to work from scratch to meet clients’ requirements with utmost compactness. It is imperative to note that construction project managers worldwide have to deal with project risks every year. It requires wise distribution of project resources while assessing the risks for optimal management. In this regard, the construction project management tools and techniques are used to plan, organize, and execute the processes for delivering projects on time within the estimated budget. Don’t forget to acquire a construction project management consultancy for staying on the right track of success. We are here to assist you!