Site managers have extremely demanding roles and take responsibility for multi-faceted and increasingly complex projects. Today, the role demands more than an in-depth knowledge of the construction process and people management, site managers are under increased pressure to cut costs and increase workflow efficiencies without compromising quality. Site managers need to understand and use the latest technology to achieve these efficiencies, minimise scheduling conflicts and keep the project on track.
Here are our five top tips for using the latest technology to become a more effective site manager:
- Get up to date with the latest management tools
- Develop a culture of collaboration
- Plan ahead, but expect the unexpected
- Be ready to change course if things go wrong
- Stay ahead with the latest digital technology
1.) Get up to date with the latest management tools
When we think of a site or construction manager, we often picture an authoritarian and process-driven figure, someone who might have progressed from the shop floor and is operationally focused. But the site manager role is evolving. The most successful managers exhibit strong leadership skills and are focused on their own accountability while building strong and capable teams.
Traditionally, site managers needed hands-on experience of the site and its construction, to ensure it met the design and operational requirements. While these experiences are still relevant, the job has transformed into a ‘mini business management’ role, requiring detailed data and reporting to share construction progress with senior management. Working with the right software tools and services becomes as important as your knowledge of construction processes and people management when demonstrating site safety and efficiency.
The right management tools are central to realising the greatest efficiencies and ensuring projects are completed on time. In the past, siloed information and inconsistent data sharing meant that project reports were often incomplete or out-of-date and delays were common. Cloud-based web applications, like PlanRadar, provide real-time understanding of your entire project. All stakeholders now have accurate information about the project at the touch of a button, fostering a culture of transparency and collaboration towards a shared goal of efficiency.
The best site management tools are:
- Cloud-based, for instant access to complete data
- Intuitive, accessed without the need for training courses
- Easy to use – anytime and anywhere
- Updated in real-time
- Site-specific – with the ability to record defects and tasks directly to the site map for easy identification
- Project enablers – allowing managers to prioritise and instantly assign tasks to team members
- Personalised – generating specific reports and productivity analysis
Site managers have increased pressure to cut costs and keep operations are lean and must be able to demonstrate this at any given moment. Accurate forecasting depends on accurate data that can be gathered and reported on quickly and easily. The latest management tools provide this and much more.
2.) Develop a culture of collaboration
A study conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) revealed that ineffective communication had a negative impact on successful project execution:
US$135 million is at risk for every US$1 billion spent on a project. Further research on the importance of effective communications uncovered that a startling 56 per cent (US$75 million of that US$135 million) is at risk due to ineffective communications.
It can be easy to get caught up in the figures and forget that project management is also people management. When the focus is solely on quality, cost and time, the importance of people and the team can be lost. Of course, we need to prevent overspending, delays and poor quality, but the strategy needs to be more long term. We need to motivate the individuals working on-site because they will make the efficiencies and quality standards a reality.
For this reason, the modern site manager is a leader, setting a vision for the site and ensuring that all team members share in that vision. Every team member should understand their role and how and why it links to site safety and project success. Team members should be encouraged to take accountability for their work so that site managers don’t slip into micromanagement.
As one of construction’s senior roles, site managers set a positive example for the whole company; others notice and follow your lead. Practically demonstrate your work ethic and stay involved in the work on-site, but don’t make the mistake of trying to be included in every aspect. You cannot be everywhere at once and delegation is key. PlanRadar is a popular tool because it allows you to assign tasks to specific team members in real-time. Tasks contain everything the recipient needs to know, including the priority, location, notes and pictures, so they can take immediate action. You can keep track of every task in real-time and see when it is completed.
Developing a positive culture requires consistency. Establish open and honest communication channels where each party can speak freely. Make sure you are clear about your expectations and how and when you will be updated and then hold everyone accountable to their commitments, including yourself. Establish budget, quality, and timeline targets with each supervisor so there are no misunderstandings when you communicate this to the project team. Working with a large group of people requires commitment and consistency, any tools you use need to support positive communication within teams and make it easier for individuals to get their work done.
3.) Plan ahead but expect the unexpected
On a construction site, there always seems to be too much work and too little time. In industries with slim margins for error, it’s important to plan ahead. Whether it’s an unexpected run of bad weather, a last-minute design change or a material issue, most construction projects face unpredictable delays. Keep these in mind when setting your timelines and expectations. The more you plan ahead and the more stakeholders you can involve in the plans, the better you can compensate for unforeseen events. Being clear about the parameters of the project from the outset will decrease the number of changes once construction is underway, reducing delays and unexpected costs.
Don’t forget to look backwards as well as forwards. Learning from past mistakes is crucial in identifying potential obstacles; preparing for possible problems can save time in the long run, particularly on large projects. Using tools, such as PlanRadar, when managing construction projects can help plan for all eventualities, particularly if you need to present information to lawyers or other third-parties. With a free 30-day trial you can see for yourself how effortlessly PlanRadar integrates into your workflows.
4.) Be ready to change course if things go wrong
Traditional construction practices can be costly and inefficient. In a 2015 study by McKinsey on construction productivity, it was reported…“[…] that 98% of megaprojects suffer cost overruns of more than 30 per cent; 77 per cent are at least 40 per cent late.”
Site managers are always ready to meet obstacles. In this role, you need to be able to adapt quickly when problems arise and be prepared to change the project course. Transparency and honest collaboration are key here and a continuous, yet fluid, workflow ensures that issues are resolved fast. When are you prepared, even for unseen events, you can anticipate how changes will impact the project and prepare to adapt and adjust it accordingly. Real-time site management tools allow adaptability to become a core feature of the project.
When something goes wrong you search for the trigger, analysing the tasks and events that led to the problem as well as its future impact. PlanRadar provides an immediate overview of all tasks and allows managers to change priorities. All team members are then notified and can react with immediate effect.
5.) Stay ahead with the latest digital technology
The construction industry has been a slow adapter when it comes to digital technology and this has led to underperformance in terms of quality and productivity. As the industry continues to grow rapidly on a global scale, this slow uptake will lead to huge costs. Many tasks are still too time-consuming, such as defect-management processes that involve taking paper notes on-site and using office staff to translate them into emails.
Take a step back and evaluate your current construction management workflows. How could you be more efficient, what tasks could be reduced or eliminated and what digital tools do you need to make this happen? Take the right steps now to meet the current needs of the market while future-proofing your processes for the future. For a more productive team and more efficient projects, invest in technology that will grow with your business, one that evolves as regulations change and software advances.
For more advice on software to help you do this and more, get in touch with the PlanRadar team.