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Five tips to become a more effective site manager

A site manager today has a more demanding job than ever before. Besides needing deep knowledge of the building trade, modern site managers must be tech-savvy, know how to manage multiple workers and subcontractors, and be able to cut costs without compromising quality. What is more, they need to know all construction project workflows by heart to avoid misunderstandings and scheduling problems.

If you are a site manager, keeping up to date and continually building on your existing skills is vital. Here are five top tips for becoming a more effective site manager in 2022.

  1. The traditional vs. the modern site manager role, and using software for site managers
  2. Setting the right expectations and communicating them
  3. Planning ahead and expecting the unexpected
  4. Don’t hesitate to adjust course when things go wrong
  5. Construction Management is changing – so keep learning to avoid getting left behind


Site manager and Construction worker monitoring the building site

1. Traditional vs modern site manager – using software for site managers

Traditionally, site managers tended to have progressed from the shop floor and thought operationally. Nowadays, however, we see a different breed of site managers coming through. The role has evolved to value people who have very strong leadership skills while being less authoritarian. They are very aware of their accountability and focus more on building teams.

Traditionally, the site manager had to know everything about the structure that was being built, to ensure it would be up to standard and run effectively after its completion. Now, however, the role has transformed into a “mini business management” role, where you have to be able to collect all kinds of data to capture the project’s current state and share information about it with senior management.

Because of this shift, many site managers are turning to software to support them in their role. Software for site managers helps keep a project on track so you know where it stands, enables you to communicate and collaborate with all stakeholders, and also to identify opportunities for additional efficiency.

But what can software do?

Cloud-based software for site managers like PlanRadar provides all stakeholders with accurate information about the project and therefore enhances efficiency. Modern software for site managers enables:

  • Instant access and gapless documentation
  • Productivity from anywhere, especially while on site
  • The ability to communicate instantly and share information from anywhere
  • Recording of defects and/or tasks directly on-site with location tagging
  • The ability to prioritize tasks or defects and instantly assign them to project members in your contact list
  • Generation of personalised reports
  • Analysis of work productivity

 

Modern site managers are also under pressure to cut costs and ensure their operations are lean. All the features mentioned above support you in doing this. What is more, since site managers must be able to demonstrate project status on a current basis – and are often required to make forecasts to show to senior management – software for site managers helps clearly show project progress.

Keep learning: Meeting the challenges facing construction site managers

2. Setting the right expectations and communicating them

study conducted by the Project Management Institute (PMI) revealed that ineffective communication is a major barrier to 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 uncovers that a startling 56 per cent (US$75 million of that US$135 million) is at risk due to ineffective communications.

One of the big mistakes managers from all industries make is forgetting that project management is also about people management. Often their focus lies solely on quality, cost and time. Of course, these are the main points to keep an eye on to prevent overspending, delays and poor quality. But successful managers know to think more long-term. And this includes not forgetting about the people who are actually doing the work on the job site.

Do: get involved

As the manager on site, one of your roles is to set a positive example for the whole company. Team members will notice how you act and are likely to follow your lead. So, stay involved with the central tasks during construction and show you are engaged, ready to listen and to provide guidance. Workers tend to have greater respect for leaders who show a clear work ethic.

The modern site manager should also know how to properly manage team members, so they avoid having to micromanage them. Make sure that everyone understands how and why their role is important to site safety and the project’s success. You have already won a huge battle if you can make sure that everyone shares the same vision for the project.

Don’t: micro-manage

Don’t make the mistake of trying to get involved in every aspect of all your teams’ tasks. The fact is that you cannot be everywhere at once. This is why efficient delegation is so important. With software for site managers like PlanRadar, delegation is much easier. It allows you to instantly assign any tasks or defects to a specific team member, from wherever you may be. The notification will have all the information that the recipient will need to know, including:

  • The priority you assigned it
  • The location (on a digital blueprint or BIM model)
  • Your notes
  • Pictures

It’s also important to set expectations clearly as a site manager, especially when you are in meetings. Be sure to establish a communication culture that promotes an open and honest discussion about the expectations of each party. Create an effective communication process within the project and meet with teams frequently. Make sure you are comfortable with how and when you will be updated, what the expectations are of staff throughout the project, and then hold everyone accountable to their commitments – including yourself.

Site managers must also establish budget, quality, and a timeline for each project with the owners so that there are no misunderstandings when you communicate this to the project team.

3. Great site managers plan ahead and always expect the unexpected

Construction sites are unpredictable places, where things like runs of bad weather, unplanned site conditions, material shortages or anything else could hamper your project. And this is why advanced, flexible planning is vital.

Keep the various unexpected events in mind when setting your timelines and expectations. The better you plan ahead, the better you can compensate for unforeseen events and reallocate staff to work on different jobs if needs be.

It will also save you a lot of hassle if you can get the architect and owner to agree early in the project on as many details as possible. This way you spare yourself from having to change orders or procedures while construction is ongoing, which could quickly lead to delays and surprise costs.

Also, remember to look through past projects and their mistakes to learn from them, and avoid ‘reinventing the wheel’. It is always helpful to identify as many obstacles as possible and potential problems beforehand. Think of possible scenarios and potential outcomes of a building project and prepare yourself as well as you can. Because the more complicated the build, the more potential there is for problems to arise.

Sometimes, a project problem will mean you to have to resort to lawyers and/or a third-party mediator. A good site manager is always prepared for this situation. Try to create a culture of gapless documentation when managing construction projects. Cloud-based software for site managers like PlanRadar offers the perfect solution here, allowing you to quickly and reliably document all decisions and actions taken during a project.

Related: How to avoid construction litigation and disputes

4. Don’t hesitate to adjust course when things go wrong

Traditional construction practices can be costly and inefficient. In a 2015 study by McKinsey about 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.“

Graph showing cost overruns and delays in construction projects - things site managers need to be aware of

Source: McKinsey.com

This fact is still true and shows us that you should always expect your project to get hit with something that may be out of your control. As a site manager, you need to be able to adapt to problems quickly and adjust course accordingly.

And this is where software for site managers can be really helpful. This technology creates a continuous workflow while embracing transparency and real-time collaboration. A transparent environment makes it easier to resolve issues faster, and this means you’re better prepared for unforeseen events, so you anticipate the changes and adjust accordingly.

As soon as you see that something has gone wrong, get an overview of all tasks and search for the flashpoint. This is where PlanRadar can help. Because unforeseen problems always have an effect on current tasks, the application provides you with an immediate overview of all tasks and lets you change your priorities. Your project members will be notified and can react accordingly.

5. Construction management is changing: don’t get left behind

The construction industry is currently transitioning and is becoming much more digitised than ever before. Nonetheless, site managers at many construction businesses continue to follow outdated methods and processes, relying on paper and verbal communication to manage highly complex projects. There are still many tasks performed in the traditional way, despite being very time-consuming. For example, in many construction companies, the defect-management process still involves taking notes on-site, on a sheet of paper, and preparing them in the office just so they can be forwarded by E-mail.

Site manager checking on a digital blueprint

Take a step back and evaluate your current construction management workflows. Like all managers, you may well find things that you can improve on without a long search. Just like the construction industry itself, site management is evolving and a growing number of firms are using software for site managers to boost efficiency and productivity.

Ultimately, you don’t want to be the last to learn new digital skills. Take steps to meet the current needs of the market by investing in technology and training that’s appropriate for your business. Cloud-based software for site managers gives you the most up to date tools to manage your sites, delegate tasks, share project progress and avoid misunderstandings and delays. By learning to use this technology, you can make your sites run more efficiently, and future-proof your workforce’s skills.

Recommended: Why snagging apps are a must-have tool for construction pros

Being the best site manager you can be

Being a better site manager will not only benefit your team and your own job security, but it helps to ensure your projects run effectively and smoothly. Don’t limit yourself by just being able to handle the day-to-day basics of your job, but always try to see the bigger picture. This will make you more adept at handling even the most difficult projects and improve all sites you contribute to.

As you progress as a site manager in 2022, use these five tips to help build your reputation and become a modern site manager. And, with the right software for site managers, you’ll have all the tools and techniques you need to excel.

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