Managing a construction project is not a walk in the park. The large scope, number of project participants, and inherent risks pose a lot of challenges to project managers. Here are some of the issues that project managers face in a typical construction project.
One of the first challenges in construction that project managers face is poorly defined project objectives. Completing a project is indeed the general goal of project managers, but going about achieving it tends to be a difficult task. Each project has its own specific constraints which make setting goals regarding the timeline, task delegation, and final delivery unique to it. A single construction project can have multiple participants and a lack of a clear goal will translate to a lack of coordination between them.
Overcoming this challenge is easy. Project managers should do their due diligence in asking the right questions from the clients and the contractors to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
One of the biggest challenges that construction project managers face is dealing with time constraints. Delays due to defective work, scheduling conflicts, and accidents at work can snowball into more delays and additional costs. External factors such as considerations for lien notices also affect work schedules when contractors refuse to come to the site because of their unpaid previous work.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of risk and uncertainty in construction projects that make delays inevitable. That is why project managers should put project scheduling and tracking systems in place to ensure that things are on the right track. Monitoring work through construction cameras also enables project managers to see any flaws, defects, and workflow issues that can result in further delays.
Like any other project, those in construction also have their problems when it comes to managing finances. Because of the large scale of construction projects and the amount of time it takes to complete them, it can be easy to go over the allotted budget.
This project management challenge can be addressed by tempering stakeholder’s expectations. Project managers should ensure that deliverables are properly identified in order to have realistic cost estimates. The budget should also include allowances for things that are beyond the project manager’s control, especially supply chain problems, labour shortages, and more recently, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the operations of many project participants. More importantly, project managers should always review the budget especially if there are change orders and scope creep that can lead to expenses going out of control.
Speaking of tempering expectations, a lot of construction project managers sometimes have to deal with unrealistic deadlines and requests from clients and stakeholders. While this is not as huge a concern as project delays and cost overruns, it does affect the productivity and morale of a construction team. Indeed, the construction industry is competitive and stakeholders will understandably protect their business interests.
However, project managers should use their communication skills to manage the expectations of superiors and give their feedback if they think what the client asks for is unrealistic. They should be able to sufficiently explain why and provide more reasonable alternatives that everyone can agree on.
The challenges that project managers face vary from one construction project to another. However, they all have one thing in common. They all require strategic understanding, tactical expertise, and skillful communication on the part of project managers to ensure successful delivery.
About the Author:
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.