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5 fundamental project management strategies for the construction industry

Project Management strategies in construction are vital in keeping things safe, teams productive, schedules on point and everyone communicating effectively.

Managing a construction project is not something to be taken lightly. Construction projects are highly structured and complex. To expertly manage a variety of disciplines, professionals and resources, it takes a special kind of manager to truly succeed within this industry. As I said previously, I tip my cap to you who take on this role daily.

With risk management, team management and build management to consider – not to mention budgeting and consulting – the number of potential obstacles and outcomes can be overwhelming.

But a good project manager will have a number of strategies up their sleeve to help them efficiently approach the day-to-day running of a project. Simple, yet fundamental strategies.

This article aims to look at 5 project management strategies every construction manager should carry through their next venture.

1.  Establish measurable milestones

One of the biggest challenges in construction management is juggling the myriad of smaller details. Keeping track of the schedule and budget, and who is carrying out what tasks is the cornerstone to a successful project plan. By establishing measurable milestones as early as possible within the planning stage, you can better track a project’s progress and success along the timeline.

Losing track of smaller details can impede the most on your project’s process. But by making those milestones measurable and tangible by attaching a budget or lead time will bring those tasks to life. That constant accountability will help you and your teams to maintain a good level of momentum throughout the project.

But the real trick here is to ensure your approach to planning is agile and continuous.  Your timeline can be affected by even the smallest issue. Ensure your milestones are realistic and achievable, but remember that your goalposts can always be modified to suit new agendas if (or, should we say, when) unforeseen circumstances arise.

2.  Conscious collaboration

Conscious collaboration will see the project manager actively involve themselves in the team’s ideas and directions, skillsets and advice. But this requires a concerted effort, especially if you prefer to focus and work independently. The risk in working predominantly off-site is that silos will begin to form within the project, disconnecting departments and teams.

Yes, project management is perhaps one of the most people-focused roles one can do. But being present and on-site isn’t the same as actively collaborating. Ironically, while trying to lead the pack, it’s easy to become isolated from the day-to-day runnings of a project. The project leader requires a certain level of focus and independent work which can see them inadvertently close themselves off from other members of the team.

One of the biggest parts of collaboration is giving and receiving feedback. Listening and working alongside your team members will help you to optimise performance, delegate wisely, and maximise opportunities for your clients.

3.  Remain resilient

Setbacks and obstacles will be inevitable. In trying to remain successful, setbacks can make you feel like you’re falling behind or failing. But this is where resilience will be key.

Before each new phase of a project can unfold, extensive revisions may need to happen due to a number of ‘uncontrollables’. Anything can happen on the construction site. HR, safety, environmental and sustainability issues will crop up along the way. The key is to remain focused, modify your milestones, make the revisions, and move on efficiently and professionally.

The most important thing is to keep your clients happy and your teams focused. Letting inevitable obstacles throw you off course can result in loss of profit and huge project delays that can’t be fixed. Remain resilient by expecting and planning for the unexpected.

4.  Don’t underestimate time management

It’s absolutely vital not to lose sight of this in the midst of a huge project.

Project managers can be pulled in all different directions. Needing to attend on-site issues, office meetings and dealing with contractors and clients; and multi-tasking doesn’t come easy to everyone.

But time is money. Plan your days effectively by establishing which tasks require your immediate attention, and schedule in windows so that you can tackle one task at a time. Don’t waste your time on tasks that can be delegated to another member of the project team. And don’t waste your time micromanaging every minor detail. With the right team by your side, only those issues that require your expertise and attention will be placed in front of you.

5.  Host a project debrief

After every project, gather your team together for a thorough debrief. What worked well? What didn’t work so well? There will always be areas of improvement no matter how good you and your team have performed.

Assess whether the project was delivered within the budget required and if not, why? How could that be improved for next time? Did you manage to adhere to sustainability measures  and project timelines? Which areas of the project struggled and which ran smoothly?

Even if the project was picture perfect, a project debrief is always vital. It will present your team members with an open floor in which to voice any concerns, struggles or successes. Remember the importance of collaboration? These go hand-in-hand, and a project debrief will help you to drive different next time for an even more successful outcome.

Consultation project managers are highly detail-oriented, organised and focused on the task in hand. It’s in their nature. But in such complex and extensive project plans, it can be easy to lose sight of the fundamental strategies that underpin a smooth and successful project, helping you move from one stage to the next with minimal disruption to timelines and budgets.

Project management in the construction industry is like no other; things will always happen that are outside of your control. And it’s easy to get lost in the myriad of details and minor issues which can distract from the bigger picture. But with the right strategic framework, you’ll always be equipped to roll with the punches, adjust, brush down, and move on to get the job done as efficiently, safely, and sustainably as possible.

Thankfully, Fascel have the in-house support of a great team of project managers who take on the heavy weight daily. If you’re managing a construction project today, I wish you all the very best of luck. Keep up the good work.

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