In this article, we are going to review some of the basic principles for managing and planning construction projects more effectively. We’ll share 7 tips on how you can make your construction projects go faster and smoother.
Table of Contents
1. Apply a Project Management Methodology
You can think of a construction project as a complex machine, with many moving parts and dynamic interdependencies among the components. If your project is going to be successful, you need to plan, coordinate and manage all the different activities involved in constructing your facility in an orderly fashion — with appropriate attention to detail — so that you wind up with the right facility at the right time, ready for use by your stakeholders. That means you need to apply a project management methodology — ideally one that has been proven effective in similar projects in your industry. A proven methodology has been refined over time and includes best practices from around the world that have been tested in real projects.
2. Avoid Project Complexity and “Projectitis”
You want to avoid building your project into a complex, difficult-to-manage, overly ambitious thing that takes years. Instead, focus on making your project as simple as possible. That means that you need to minimize the number of parties involved in the project — even if only to make sure they are all fully committed — and that you minimize the number of separate tasks required to complete each task so that you can complete more tasks in less time. You also want to avoid “projectitis” where people are constantly asking for additional items or features or changes – this drives up costs, creates delays and makes the project more complex.
3. Make a Project Plan
The point of planning is to get things done faster and without wasted time. One way to do that is by using a project plan, which details both the tasks and the schedule for completing them. But it’s important to remember that you’re not charting your course based on just wishful thinking or on what you hope will happen; instead, you’re creating a plan based on what you know will happen, such as when various resources or materials will be available (or unavailable). Then, when there are changes — which are inevitable — they can be accommodated quickly and easily without throwing off your original schedule. As the saying goes: “If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.”
4. Create a Project Charter and Document Project Scope and Deliverables
Projects have many moving parts, so it’s important to document the scope of work at the beginning. This allows you to define exactly what is involved in getting a project done: what is it that your project will build, how much it will cost and when it will be completed. You can also use this information to determine what resources you need to complete the project on time and under budget. The plan should specify exactly who is responsible for each item, which tasks are required by each person (i.e., construction manager) as well as who owns which deliverables (i.e., architect).
5. Use a Project Manager to Get Things Done Faster and Better
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a valuable one to remember: A good project manager can make the difference between a project that is completed on time and on budget or one that is delayed and over budget. Not every person you hire will be an effective project manager, so it’s important to select the right person for the job. You also want to be sure that your chosen PM is able to maintain control of the project from start to finish: if they’re consistently away from work for long periods of time, you need someone else who can step in and keep things organized.
6. Develop a Cost Breakdown
This is a very helpful tip that can make the difference between an over budget project and one that is completed on time and under budget. This breakdown will show you costs by item, such as “steel” or “brick”, and will help you to prioritize the work depending on what construction supply materials is most expensive. It’ll also help you to identify which items may need additional funding in order to complete the project. In addition, this breakdown will inform you of whether or not your estimate was realistic so that you can fix any problems early on if necessary.
7. Create a Plan B
You should always make sure there’s a backup plan for any project that includes delays or unexpected expenses.
In the example above, if the project management team decided to drop any of the side jobs being done by other departments in order to focus on this new project, they would give themselves an additional budget to cover re-work and overtime costs. You can do this by creating a “worst-case scenario” budget.