As the construction project manager, a lot rides on your shoulders. In fact, construction project managers often have 120 or more responsibilities throughout the lifecycle of a project.
From handling budgets to managing the team and the entire project process, you’ll be multi-tasking until the project ends—which can be months, or sometimes years, after the project kicks off.
That’s why when it comes to doing construction project management well, you need all the help you can get.
That’s where a clear construction project management process and a powerful (yet not overly complex) project management tool come in.
- Determining your construction project process
- How to select a construction project management tool
Determining your construction project process
A process is a repetitive activity that streamlines and improves the ongoing operation of your project. It’s the glue that keeps your project together, so without a clear-cut process, things will likely start to fall apart.
That’s where integrated project management comes in.
When it comes to construction projects, your integrated process should include an overview of what to do throughout the following 4 phases of a construction project:
1. Project kick-off
During this phase, your process should outline the needs, objectives, and overarching goals of the project. You’re creating your business case, so you need to map these out, and then make sure to begin identifying and estimating the project cost and timeline to achieve those objectives.
It’s always important to know the what and why of your construction project before you kick-off into the planning phase.
2. Project planning
Here’s where you begin planning the scope and assembling your work breakdown structure (WBS). You’re figuring out: how are you going to achieve success? This is when you start to assemble your key personnel, determine the materials and equipment needed, as well as meet with all relevant stakeholders (like architects) to finalize the overarching plan, budget, and timeline for the project.
Once that’s done, you’re ready to start seeking contractor bids.
3. Project launch
During this stage, you’ll be getting everyone on-site to set up, making sure that materials are properly stored, everyone has site access, and much more. During the project launch phase, you’ll be meeting regularly with stakeholders, so you need to make sure your ducks are in a row, and you’re constantly keeping a beat on what’s happening and where things are at.
4. Project closure and performance tracking
As the project progresses to a close, you’ll be conducting regular reports and providing overviews to relevant stakeholders. Here’s where keeping a detailed change order log is critical so you can make note of changes needed, identify problems and create a plan to keep the trains rolling. It’s all about alignment during this phase, across teams and individuals so having project management soft skills will be handy.
How to select a construction project management tool
The optimal construction project management tool will work alongside your construction planning processes, without making anything more complicated than it should be.
Here’s what to look for in a construction project tool:
1. Unifies incoming and outgoing communications
As a project manager, you’ll be communicating with tons of different stakeholders all the time. That’s often where you’ll turn to your email tool to manage those communications, but there’s a better way.
Choose a construction project management tool that lets you pull all your communications inside the tool, that way you don’t need to hop between your email inbox and your project management solution all the time. Instead, everything is right there, in one place, completely visible all the time.
This will make it much easier to track records, updates, and more by turning your project management tool into a central library of everything you need.
2. Provides the ability to define the roles and responsibilities of team members
As a project manager, it’s important to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of everyone on your construction team. Everyone responsible for managing contracts, documents, and moving the project ahead should have a clear picture of what’s on their list, and what needs to get done.
That’s why you should look for a project management tool that makes it easy to collaborate with your team members. You want a tool that offers @ mentions and commenting on tasks or to-dos so you can easily track and discuss the progress of what’s going down, right on the task itself.
3. Provides a very clear overview of where things are at and when they’re due
At a minimum, your tool should give you a quick overview right away of what’s happening and its status.
Is it in progress, complete, or on hold? You want to be able to see things at a high level or have the option to dig into each task individually. Plus, at a minimum, you need a tool that provides both a Calendar and List view.
You should get a picture of how things are tracking against deadlines, and also see how long that list is getting (and whether you need to call in backup for help).
4. Allows you to see and manage all relevant project documentation
Part of ensuring everyone knows who is working on what and what’s going down, is making process documentation clearly visible.
Ideally, your team should be able to reference documentation from within the same platform they’re using to manage their tasks. Similar to keeping communications inside the project tool, you want to keep important docs there too.
5. Simplifies everything
There will be a lot of project management tools out there with dozens of options. From Gantt Charts to Kanban to everything in between, it’s your task to champion a tool that simplifies the overly complex. Your construction project has enough complexity already!
Do not choose a tool that adds layers of complication into the process. Instead, look for one that is straightforward, offers everything you need, and will keep things simple.
This is a guest post from Michael Sanders, co-founder and COO of DoneDone, where he oversees all things business and product out of Austin, TX. He enjoys traveling and working from new places all over the world.