Managing a construction project is easier when everyone performs their function diligently. The project manager’s job is to maintain this kind of collaboration among personnel and stakeholders to eliminate risks, optimise the operation, and hit targets. Leveraging digital solutions also amplifies communication and data management, which are vital in keeping everyone engaged.
This article covers some of the most common pitfalls that can impact construction project management and how digital solutions can help address them.
1. Not addressing potential communication barriers
A project manager must be able to effectively communicate the project’s goal, strategies and guidelines to the specialist trade professionals, subcontractors and stakeholders. Therefore, everything must be precise and clear to ensure everyone is on the same page and doing their jobs accordingly. Also, when giving out information or instructions, they should always consider the following barriers to better word and deliver their message:
- Not all workers are updated with the latest trends in construction technology.
- Only a few workers understand engineering and construction jargon.
- Some construction methods can be performed in several ways, and the company’s requirements might differ from what the workers prefer or know.
- Some subcontractors are likely working with other construction companies and do things differently.
- The guidelines may be too long and can still be condensed for ease of use.
With these realistic assumptions, a project manager can include a program that constantly updates personnel with new technology, methodology, equipment or regulations that directly impact the project. They can even provide mock-ups or construction methods at the site, which workers can check out and try before working. This way, oversights that often lead to asset damage and downtime can be avoided. It’s also crucial to keep the guidelines digestible for everyone by making instructions short and straightforward.
Another barrier in construction project management is the differences in workplace culture. Before working with any subcontractor, whether a supplier or a team of tradespeople, ask about the other companies they currently or previously worked for. Ask how the company guidelines and practices may differ and what can be done to help mitigate the shift for minimal disruptions. Let them suggest how to bridge any gap that can cause interruptions or ineptitude in the project execution.
Using a digital platform like PlanRadar, where team members can freely and quickly access essential information and documents, allows for easy project management. Discover how PlanRadar can boost project management by booking a free product demo.
2. Limiting project and personnel resources
Construction companies tend to be interdependent organisations. They maximise their human resources and avoid getting external support as much as possible. They only subcontract tasks that directly impact the project workflow. For instance, they outsource formwork, scaffolding, or electrical installation if their resources are inadequate. But in terms of administrative and technical jobs, such as data analytics and IT infrastructure maintenance, they tend to rely on their own staff regardless of qualifications.
While seemingly practical, this approach is counterintuitive since complex systems such as analytics software require specific skills acquired through proper training. Getting more qualified tradespeople involved accelerates the process and creates an opportunity for scaling up existing digital systems. Especially when using project management software, enlisting professionals who can navigate the system and make best use of all functions easily is a smart move.
3. Not anticipating potential hidden issues
Any complex and multifaceted endeavour, like a construction project, is replete with potentially risky and complex issues. Whether related to compliance, title transfer or hazardous materials, they must be resolved before the project starts. The last thing a project manager needs is a demolition order due to an unresolved boundary dispute when the project is almost finished. Problems like this can be avoided by identifying and addressing all issues that can potentially encumber the project. Below are some examples:
- The construction project goes against the land’s zoning.
- An integral section of the structure is built beyond the boundary.
- The land owner failed to obtain a right of wayto allow heavy construction vehicles to pass through.
- The land title has yet to be transferred to the new owner.
- The existing structure to be demolished has asbestos, lead, and other harmful materials.
While it’s primarily the owners’ and stakeholders’ responsibility to settle these issues, the contractor becomes deeply involved once the project generates costs. Therefore, these issues must be verified with the owners before closing the deal and deploying the team to the site. Should there be a need for due diligence, and the burden is passed on to the construction company, ensure to include this in the overall cost.
Collaborating with stakeholders is much easier using construction project management software. It allows the contractor to upload all documents related to the project and compare them against a detailed compliance checklist before greenlighting the team.
4. Unnecessarily complex processes
Another pitfall a construction company might encounter is complex subcontractor bids, which take much work to review. An example is a quote that includes un-appraisable services, particularly those that involve using complex equipment or techniques. A project manager can go in two directions with this kind of quote:
- Decline the offer and find someone else.
- Accept the offer and agree to the terms and conditions.
Declining the offer doesn’t guarantee that the project manager will not encounter the same issue with a different subcontractor again. On the other hand, accepting it runs the risk of entering a bad deal. However, this dilemma can be avoided by utilising data analytics to generate insights into the unknowns of the quote. Data analytics helps produce calculable representations of incomplete information to increase a contractor’s negotiating power.
5. Unclear project scheduling and coordination
One of the biggest mistakes in construction management is assuming everyone has the same perspective on the project, especially during the planning stage. For instance, the safety guidelines proposed by the project safety officer may lack a few essential aspects because there was insufficient coordination with the design team.
The key to a successful construction project is coordination. Using advanced digital solutions such as Business Information Modelling allows for easy project collaboration since it centralises design and project management. All key players—engineers, architects, and stakeholders—can refer to BIM for information about the project. In addition, they can make real-time changes or suggest improvements with the entire team being informed immediately. Incorporating BIM into the project management software further streamlines project collaboration.
6. Incomplete project forecasting
Decisions made for construction must always be based on facts. Otherwise, it’s a gamble. A project manager may be unable to predict a project’s future accurately, but analysing facts can drive insights that can lead the project in the right direction. Data-driven project scheduling and forecasting enable a construction company to understand the project’s scale and timeframe more clearly. Subsequently, they can plan for foreseen hidden costs and problems arising at any stage of the project.
For instance, running data on an analytics-enabled construction management platform allows project managers to foresee potential delays or added costs to a project. It may also analyse market conditions and recommend the best time to bid on projects. Understanding price actions and market volatility gives contractors an edge in terms of making critical financial decisions.
The success of a construction project lies in the hands of not just the project manager, but all team members. That includes the engineers, architects, administrators and staff, labourers, specialist trade professionals, and other personnel. Simply put; collaboration. Everyone must perform their role with the project’s overall success in mind.
More importantly, to make this collaboration work, the project manager must proactively tackle pitfalls that can potentially impede operation and generate additional costs to the project. Also, they must recognise the role of technology in preventing, mitigating and managing these issues. Whether anticipating hidden issues or streamlining project scheduling and coordination, the correct blend of human diligence and technology-driven transformations can secure the project’s success.