Great construction project management begins with a robust construction plan. That means a plan that’s fit for purpose and covers the key stages of a construction project. The first step will be a feasibility study to see if the business case for the project can be achieved within the time and budget allocated. Consultants such as quantity surveyors are often brought on board at this early stage, and detailed surveys of the proposed site will be carried out. Outline planning permission is sought because delays can occur if the local planning officer isn’t contacted early on.
Before You Start
A health and safety plan needs to be established from the outset, with a named person responsible for health and safety. Visitors to the site need to be managed, and everyone working on-site should have a health and safety briefing about any specific hazards. Larger projects require a role called the CDM Co-ordinator to manage this plan and also provide useful help to new project managers.
Allied to the health and safety plan, a risk register is a key part of smooth construction project management. It helps you to consider, mitigate and manage those risks that could disrupt the project – from planning permission delays to adverse weather.
Once the project has cleared these initial stages, detailed design can take place and construction drawings can be produced. As the specification becomes clearer, the cost engineer can begin to put detailed cost estimates next to the items on the plan, enabling a realistic budget to be drawn up. Then there’s a tendering stage while contractors bid for the work. The project will need a schedule to manage supplies as they arrive on the site to ensure that local traffic isn’t disrupted and no hazards are caused to the construction workers.
Only then does construction begin. But if all the preceding stages have been carried out thoroughly, the construction plan should be robust and reliable.
Change Control Is Vital
One of the areas that causes most problems to inexperienced project managers is how to deal with change orders. It’s essential to establish firm change control processes at the outset. Who will approve a change that requires extra spending or significantly alters the original design? How will this be documented? What about urgent decisions? If you think about these in advance, they will be easier to deal with when they arise.
There’s a lot to learn on a construction project, and no one can possibly be an expert in all areas. That’s why projects hire in specialists to handle areas like cost and budget control. So don’t feel you should know everything just because you’re the project manager – but do make sure you find out what to do from a reliable source. If you “wing it” and it goes wrong, someone may ask you to explain your decision. If you freely admitted at the time it was not an area of expertise for you but then asked someone with greater knowledge or more experience and took their advice, you can show that you have acted responsibly.
Hopefully, these construction project management tips will help you make a successful start in this vital industry.