Meeting the challenges facing construction site managers

The role of a construction site manager is central, essential and multifaceted; they are the coordinators and overseers of every construction site, ensuring projects are completed safely, on time and to budget. Construction site managers often have experience of working directly on the site, with a trade background and detailed experience and knowledge of the day-to-day workings of a construction site. This brings invaluable insight to the management, project and design teams.

Construction manager looking into the distance in front of construction site.

The construction industry contributes £117 million to the UK economy and, despite the current climate, construction continues to be a stable and important industry, employing 2.4 million, 6.6% of the total job market. At the heart of all these teams sits the site manager.

Bring invaluable experience to coordinated construction

Construction site managers are responsible for putting the design plans into operation. In practice, that means they have to balance the following  safety, quality, cost and time. They are responsible for planning the construction phases of the project and bringing together the materials, people and machinery to make the blueprint a reality.

The site manager will hire teams of direct contractors and third-party suppliers and take a role in managing these teams on-site, ensuring workers are doing the jobs that they are paid to do, on time and to a high quality. This motivational role requires construction site managers to take a leadership stance, empowering teams to get the job done but allowing autonomy and flexibility to get the best out of people and inspiring them to align with the vision of the project.

As well as driving quality by employing the best people for each job, a site manager’s duties extend to protecting the budget and meeting the client’s expectations without overspending. Carefully coordinating the materials, people and hiring of machinery, the construction site manager must design and follow a schedule to ensure each element of the project fits into place when needed. This careful synchronisation helps avoid late deliverables and associated fines and can adjust to meet any unforeseeable changes in the design or schedule.

Safety is another key area of the construction site manager’s duties. Although safety should be the responsibility of everyone on-site, someone needs to oversee policies and procedures and check that they are being adhered to, as well as addressing any safety issues should they occur.

READING TIP: What is construction management?

Site Managers supporting Project Managers

The wide and varied modern role of a construction site manager carries a great deal of responsibility and with it comes significant challenges. Some of these challenges can be greatly alleviated by the latest software and technology.

Project managers often work across several different sites, managing multiple construction projects at once. For this reason, they cannot be on hand to see and document every part of the project as it happens, especially when sites are located far apart. This can be challenging when managers are expected to know the exact status of all projects and to feel confident that projects are running according to plan. For that reason, they’ll rely on a site manager to keep everything documented and running smoothly.

Communication, time management, documentation

Communication is another challenging area. Construction site managers have the task of taking a client’s vision and an architect’s design and making it a reality. Interpreting designs and incorporating changes are part of the role but it is not without its issues and miscommunication is a frequent problem, particularly between off-site and on-site teams.

Time constraints are also a frequently occurring theme. Construction projects nearly always come with tight timeframes and a small resourcing shift or an equipment delay can have a knock-on effect, slowing other project areas and impacting the delivery dates. While the construction site manager is focused on minimising these time impacts, they must also report construction progression and delays to stakeholders. These additional administration tasks can add significant time into the construction site manager’s duties, removing the focus from the day-to-day work to keep the project on track. Of course, changes will occur and some aspects of the project won’t go to plan. When it comes to the end of a project, a punch list is created to identify and fix any defects that might have occurred during construction. This can be a very challenging stage as the project as end date fast approaches.

A supply of trusted data is crucial. It’s the site manager’s job to create, access, share and manage information. A steady flow of defect reports, progression statuses and inspection and audit data makes its way to the site manager and this needs to be acted upon, consolidated and communicated to other team members. Paper-based reports and spreadsheets can make this task time-consuming.

Solving site challenges through software

Technology is fast addressing these challenges, with intuitive software developments, fast wireless networks and cloud-based reporting access from anywhere in the world. Communication is a key component of this new technology. We are better connected than ever before and this helps to reduce miscommunication between stakeholders, as well as reducing the amount of effort that it takes to pass data and reports between teams.

PlanRadar’s site management tool starts with the blueprint. A site’s entire design plans can be uploaded and accessed on any smartphone and every construction worker and site manager can now have the most recent and complete version of the blueprint in their pocket. If the architect or project manager needs to make a change to the plans, the new version is automatically updated and any supported data is carried across. This blueprint then acts as the basis for all future reporting.

Defects can be recorded directly on the digital blueprint, pinpointing the exact location of the defect and uploading any additional images, verbal notes, typed details or documentation. Defects can be uploaded as they are found, by any approved worker, creating a dynamic list that can be addressed as the project progresses rather than left until the project closeout stages. Once the defects are recorded, the site manager or supervisor can allocate individuals or teams to the task. Not only are the defects identified and fixed quicker, but there is also a full digital audit trail. Reports can be downloaded to show progress and shared with stakeholders at the touch of a button. No more laborious data gathering and reporting processes and no more meetings where stakeholders are sharing reports rather than making decisions. Everyone can come to the meeting fully prepared and ready to have a strategic discussion.

Site audits and reports can also be designed and scheduled through PlanRadar, allowing team members to conduct the checks on their smartphone and give up-to-date information on the status of any equipment, procedures or safety checks for all relevant stakeholders.

By integrating PlanRadar with other construction site software tools, construction projects can move to a fully digitised platform, enabling remote access to up-to-the-minute information and giving construction site managers more time to dedicate to the efficient and effective running of their multiple sites.