Construction project managers are responsible for overseeing and supervising construction projects from start to finish. They are tasked with making sure projects are delivered on time and within budget. Job duties differ from company to company, but construction project managers are typically responsible for overseeing the budget, working with owners, architects and engineers, hiring subcontractors, scheduling and planning work and ensuring materials and equipment are delivered to the project site on time.
Successful construction project managers must be able to see the overall big picture of the project and ensure that the project is completed within budget and on time while also delivering a quality product to the client that conforms with all building codes and safety regulations.
Here are a few tips that make a great construction project manager:
Plan & Schedule
If you want your next project to be successful, you need to spend a fair amount of time planning and scheduling. Carefully review the plans and specifications to get a true understanding of the scope of work of the project. Work with your project team to coordinate and organize the tasks in the most logical and efficient way possible.
Make sure you have the resources needed to properly execute your plan and keep the project on schedule. This includes manpower, materials, tools and equipment. Make sure to work with your subcontractors and suppliers to ensure that you are setting realistic expectations regarding your timetable and project milestones.
Be prepared to make adjustments to your plan as issues arise. You want to be rigid enough to keep your project on schedule and within budget, but flexible enough to adjust your plans to keep the project moving and avoid delays.
Learn to Communicate
Being able to effectively communicate is probably the most important skill a construction project manager needs to learn. A good construction project manager should be adept at both written and oral communication. All communication should be clear and concise. Sometimes a quick email or text is all that’s needed to convey your message while other instances other instances may require you to pick up the phone or schedule a quick face-to-face meeting.
Establish a communication plan to determine what type of communications should be used for different circumstances and a chain of command for what information gets shared and who that information is shared with.
For example, items like RFIs and change orders should always be done through some form of written communication to establish a paper trail. When meeting with stakeholders and members of the project team it’s a good idea to take notes, and follow up with an email to ensure everyone is on the same page.
The flow of communication affects the flow of a construction project. Problems and delays can occur when people stop communicating or responding to inquiries. When everyone is communicating effectively and efficiently, it leads to better collaboration and projects tend to run smoother.
Tackle One Problem at a Time
Whether your managing one project or multiple projects, it’s easy to get bogged down with everything that needs to your attention. Don’t try and do everything at once. Multitasking isn’t a skill anyone can master. Trying to juggle too many things at once will often lead to mistakes or errors in judgement that will lead to even bigger problems.
Instead, prioritize issues and problems in a way that makes sense and works for you. For some, it might be easier to tackle the smaller issues first and then focus on the larger problems. Others may decide to take on the issues that will have the biggest impact on the project whether that be financial, lost productivity or something else. Spend time working with your project team to develop a game plan for to address the issue and avoid unnecessary downtime or delays. If you’re constantly running around trying to put out fires you won’t be able to properly manage your project.
Manage Your Time Wisely
Construction project managers get pulled in lots of directions every day. Project managers are involved in almost all aspects of a project so being able to effectively manage your time is vital. If you can’t effectively manage your time, it’s unlikely you’ll fare any better at managing a construction project.
Prioritize your day by determining the items that need immediate attention and those that can handled later. Don’t waste time on things that don’t need to be addressed immediately if there are more pressing tasks that need your attention. Remember, not every email needs to be answered the moment you receive it.
Learn to delegate tasks to other members of the project team. If you have the right people on your team, you don’t need to micromanage every little thing. As long as you are communicating with your team, you should trust their expertise to make decisions and handle what you’ve assigned them to do.
Learn From Your Mistakes (and Successes)
Once the project is completed, gather your team to do a post-mortem to assess your team’s performance. There’s always room for improvement so be sure to discuss any areas of concern and discuss how to do better on the next project. Be sure to highlight your successes as well and determine how you can apply that to your next project.
Discuss what problems arose on the project and how you solved them. Was it the best way, or was there something else that could have been done that would have resulted in a better outcome? Did you deliver the project on time and within budget? Were you able to execute the plan and schedule as expected? If not, what adjustments had to be made? Was productivity at an acceptable level or could you have done better?
Questions like these will help give you an honest assessment of your performance on the project and hopefully highlight ways to do even better on the next one.