The Challenges of Managing Construction Projects
Managing a construction project is a complicated process, and each stage must happen in a certain order to keep things moving smoothly. Tasks must be defined and organized, materials need to be delivered, and personnel scheduled accordingly to overcome roadblocks to productivity. Teams need to communicate about the job site, changes, safety issues, and more. And project managers need to stay one step ahead of potential pitfalls and disruptions.
Managing complex construction projects comes with numerous challenges that managers can’t ignore.
Staying on budget
Keeping projects on budget is one of the top challenges of managing construction projects, but it’s essential to keep clients happy and earn a profit. There are all sorts of costs that construction managers must pay attention to. For example, labor, tools, equipment, and materials are just a few areas that construction project managers must consider to stay on budget.
Although all types of businesses need to pay attention to costs, it’s especially important in the construction industry. While construction professionals can estimate pricing before a project begins, there are countless ways that projects can lead to costly changes. The price of materials may go up, labor may cost more due to double-handling, and unforeseen circumstances could require a complete overhaul of project tasks. Delays, miscommunications, and last-minute changes all cause project budgets to fluctuate, making them difficult to manage.
Communication across in-house and job site teams
Connecting in-house and job site teams is crucial to improving efficiency. Without proper communication, tasks can be delayed, issues may not be mitigated in time, and schedules will have to be pushed back. Most problems with managing a construction project stem from a lack of communication between teams.
Project managers are also faced with facilitating efficient communication so that all parties involved are up to date with any changes, problems, delays, and other updates. Each employee has different roles, responsibilities, and daily routines, so construction project managers have to think about how each person accesses and absorbs key project information to ensure that communication is distributed appropriately.
Managing large numbers of contracts and documents
Each construction project requires a series of reports, contracts, and other documentation essential for projects to be executed according to the client’s needs, the architect’s designs, and within the project’s scope and parameters.
Bids, agreements, bills, drawings, work orders, permits, safety reports, timesheets, and more must all be carefully managed to stay on budget. Expenses and receipts must be tracked and documented to ensure accuracy. Without adequate documentation and notation on project tasks, equipment needs, inventory updates, compliance, and so on, projects can be put to a halt.
Projects can also be stopped due to a lack of resources or communication, so it is up to construction project managers to organize and manage the many contracts and documents to keep things running smoothly.
Keeping projects on schedule
Keeping projects on schedule is another of the top challenges when managing a construction project. Project scheduling is more than just organizing a sequence of events. It can sometimes seem like a balancing act where managers must juggle numerous subcontractors’ availability along with keeping up with client timeline expectations.
According to the 2020 National Construction Payment Report, less than 30% of contractors finish projects on time and within budget. When project managers can’t see into all the moving parts of a project to stay organized, it can be nearly impossible to stay on schedule.
Risk management in construction includes financial risk but is also focused on worker risks and safety. When working conditions are unsafe, it is unlikely that projects will be completed on time, and contractors can become seriously injured. Safety and risk management is a major challenge in the construction industry since numerous locations must be addressed.
Risks associated with offices, job sites, storage facilities, transportation, equipment hazards, and more all threaten the health and well-being of workers and project timelines.
For construction project managers, maintaining safety compliance and balancing financial risk can sometimes outweigh other tasks and responsibilities. Safety is incredibly important, but tracking regulations, ensuring facilities are up to code, and ensuring that everyone is trained to the same standards is a full-time job in itself. Balancing risk management amongst the other responsibilities of managing a construction process is a tall order.