5 Stages of Construction Projects
As a project moves along, there are 5 distinct stages in which the construction management process shifts and needs evolve. The stages are as follows.
1. Planning and development
Before getting invested in a project, a construction manager needs to make sure it's feasible. In the planning stage, you’ll do extensive preliminary research to decide if you want to proceed.
Ask yourself the following:
Collecting data and performing research is critical at this stage. A thorough planning and development stage generally includes running feasibility studies, risk assessments, and capital budgeting models.
The positive findings and any concerns which arise from these planning exercises need to be communicated to primary stakeholders promptly. A combination of hard data and human insight will inform you how a project should move forward.
If the project passes the planning stage, you can press on to the design phase. At this point, stakeholders will create increasingly precise renderings of the final build.
This stage usually starts with simple conversations and rough sketches. As your team gets clearer on the project vision, these sketches should develop into full-on blueprints.
This stage can be time-consuming. However, it is critical to the success of a project, as all parties need to be in agreement about the design specs. Otherwise, your project will run into snags down the road. Once the design is finalized and approved, you’ll have what you need for the preconstruction phase.
In the preconstruction stage, you’ll develop a course of action to see the project through to completion. This is the point where your construction project management skills start to shine.
This step is more involved than simply creating a schedule, however. Processes you will need to complete in this stage include:
Determining who needs to be involved and what they’ll do.
Configuring your work breakdown structures (WBS) and organizational breakdown structures (OBS).
Figuring out what resources and permits your team needs.
Calculating an overall budget, as well as smaller budgets for each project phase.
Developing a timeline, and setting project milestones.
This can also be a time-intensive stage. There are a lot of moving parts to consider, so you need to take a Murphy’s Law approach. Anticipate the worst-case scenario for each step of the build–then create contingency plans so you and your team are prepared.
Once you’ve determined your project workflow, it’s time to source supplies. The goal in procurement stage is to get what you need as quickly and as economically as possible.
This stage is made much easier and more efficient if you have an established network of suppliers and a firm grasp of supply chain logistics. If not, consult with a member of your team for advice or bring in a procurement specialist.
Another consideration is whether you want to acquire all of your supplies at once or spread out the procurement stage.
Piggybacking on our earlier example, it may not make sense to purchase lumber, flooring, and appliances at the same time. Instead, you might get the lumber first, then acquire other supplies as they’re needed. If you go this route, be careful with timing. You don’t want to wait too long to order materials and hold up the next steps in a project.
Finally, your project can come to life. By now, your team should be fully prepped on what they need to do, how they should do it, and when. You should also have supplies for at least the first couple of construction phases.
Your job as construction project manager isn’t over just yet, however.
While the hardest part is over, you’ll still need to oversee the project to keep everyone on track. Curveballs are inevitable, so be prepared to adapt your plan as needed. With careful monitoring, you can preempt possible hiccups and adjust your workflow to stay on track and under budget.