From the time a potential customer first calls you, to the time your crew has completed the work they've requested, you are engaging in project management. At least, in the broadest sense of the term. The particulars of every job must be dealt with. How much will you charge? Which staff members will work on the job? What are the costs of materials? How much time do you expect the project to take? These are all questions you need to answer, whether you do so through a formal process or not.
In the loosest sense of the word, project management is whatever you are already doing to ask, answer, and keep track of the aforementioned questions. Over the past few decades or so, it has become a more formal version of itself. A variety of tools have been developed to help construction managers take advantage of this framework, by automating tasks and helping keep track of various project phases. These tools, combined with the discipline of formal project management, can make a great impact on the profitability and work environment at your construction company.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of how project management works, let's take a look at why construction managers make it part of their business.
● Improved Collaboration — With formal project management, everyone's role in the project is clearly defined from the very earliest stages. This makes it easier for everyone to stay on the same page. When the need arises, anyone can use the company's project management construction software to check on what their role is so your entire crew continues to operate like a well-oiled machine.
● Increased Efficiency — Having a crew that works more collaboratively is great for morale. Your workplace will be much more pleasant for everyone involved. But that isn't the only benefit. When everyone is on the same page and working together effectively, the crew becomes much more productive. They'll finish jobs quicker, keeping costs down and profits up.
● Better Goal Tracking — With every step of the project mapped out in discrete steps, tracking the progress of the project becomes a breeze. Your crew will be able to start every day knowing exactly where they are at and what needs to be done. With quality tools, you'll even be able to track how quickly the project was completed and how much profit it turned, to make estimating future projects easier.
● Improved Customer Satisfaction — Project management construction software is all about dotting the i's and crossing the t's. With the structured process, you'll have a better idea of what the customer wants, they'll have a better idea of what to expect, any changes will be dealt with quickly, and all of the necessary documentation will be quick and easy to find.
Now that we've seen the definition of formal project management and had a look at the types of benefits it can bring to a job site, it's time to actually take a look at the process. As a discipline, project management is usually broken down into five distinct phases. Each of these phases has its own goals and procedures, and each one builds of the one before it to keep the project organized and running smoothly.
Before the project even kicks off, you need to determine whether it is feasible and whether you want to take it on. This is the phase of the project where you'll visit the potential customer's home and provide them with an estimate on the work. It's important during this phase that concrete steps are taken to ensure the homeowner and yourself are on the same page about what work will be done, and what contingencies for any disruptions may look like. Unexpected events often strain contractor/client relationships, so working out a plan for those issues ahead of time is important to keep the project on track.
During the planning phase, you'll lay out the roadmap for the completion of the project. The planning phase kicks off by thoroughly defining the scope of the project and breaking it down into discrete steps. Those steps are then assigned to a team member for completion. Several tools are available to help with this phase. A Gantt chart is a commonly used visual aid that illustrates the timeline for the project and maps out its tasks. A risk management and communication plan should also be developed to keep everyone in the loop and smooth any obstacles that may arise.
The third and fourth phases of project management actually occur simultaneously. Additionally, the execution phase is when the actual work on the project is completed. The project manager must ensure the crew has all the materials they need to complete the job and that those materials are sent with the crew when they go out to the job site.
The beginning of this phase also provides one more opportunity to ensure everyone understands their role and is aware of the steps that must be taken.
While the crew is performing the execution of the project, the project manager is overseeing everything. The need to keep the project on schedule, adapt to any unforeseen events, manage the crew, keep tabs on the costs, and other activities fall to the project manager. This phase isn't much different from what it would be in informal management. However, the project manager has more powerful tools and a more detailed plan at their disposal via project management construction software.
This is the end of the project when all the work is done and the invoice is sent to the customer. Most of the work is done at this phase, but it's important to review the project. By understanding what went right and what went wrong, you'll better prepare yourself and your team when the time comes to plan the next project.
At Gigover, we understand that the benefits of formal project management aren't always obvious. Many construction teams choose not to use such tools because they don't see the benefit they provide over doing things the old-fashioned way. That's why we've made it free to try our Gigover project management construction software.