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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CONSTRUCTION PROJECT MANAGEMENT

ultimate guide to construction

If you’ve ever been in charge of a construction project, you know that every second counts. And if you’re not managing your project effectively missteps and miscommunications can lead to surprise expenses and headaches. That’s why we’re here!

SWS Warning Lights is always on the hunt for tips aimed at saving your business time and money and today we’re bringing you one of our favorites – construction project management.

Effective project management is a vital component of each construction project. It includes organizing and directing each part of the project life cycle, from early planning stages to completion. With construction project management you can improve the quality of work, prevent errors, and ensure the job gets done on time and within budget. Today we’ll provide a complete overview of the construction project management process and discuss how access to the right tools can ensure your project is a success.

What is Construction Project Management?

Project management is a process that helps organize and manage the many aspects involved in the construction life cycle. It’s meant to ensure each part is completed on time and within budget.

Certified project managers take the lead in this process. Responsible for ensuring the project stays on task and within budget, project managers address everything from cost control and procurement to scheduling and risk assessment. They are also responsible for working with all those involved in the project, including architects, owners, and contractors. Project managers meet with these groups to ensure that their needs are consistently met while keeping costs low and schedules on track.

What’s the Difference Between a Construction Site Manager & a Project Manager?

Construction project planning requires the hard work of both project managers and construction site managers.

Construction site managers, according to the Law Insider, are defined as “competent persons responsible for managing physical construction processes, coordination, administration and resource management on a construction site.”

A project manager, on the other hand, is defined as, “a principal employee or agent of the recipient having administrative authority over the project. They are the authorized designee as per written notification to the director,” according to the Law Insider.

The two jobs have a lot in common – they both oversee projects and manage budgets, they both ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget, and they both manage teams of people – but they also differ in key ways.

A construction site manager is typically on the front lines, managing every aspect of the construction project and working directly with all those involved in the job. In contrast, a project manager often works primarily out of an office and may not even be present at the site during most of the project.

History of Construction Project Management

Project management has been an integral part of construction for centuries. Early on, projects were overseen by architects, however, as buildings became more complex so did the role of the project manager. In fact, in the 17th century, it became a prerequisite for construction project managers to have technical knowledge in areas like physics in math.

It wasn’t until the 19th century, however, that project management began to form into the process we see before us today. The continued need for mass transportation gave rise to further refinement of the process, and the transcontinental railroad was seen as the first major challenge faced by project managers. Fast forward to today and construction site managers have become increasingly reliant on apps and other digital tools to manage their projects.

5 Stages of Construction Projects

Construction projects are a major undertaking. They can involve a wide range of processes, from planning and design to execution. If you’re thinking about taking on a new construction project, it’s important to understand the different steps involved in your project – and how they relate to each other.

There are generally five major stages involved in every construction project: planning, design, preconstruction, procurement, and construction. Let’s take a closer look at each of these stages below.

1. Planning and Development

The decision to invest in a new project can be a challenging one. But by utilizing pro-con lists, extensive input from stakeholders, feasibility studies and capital budgeting you can help yourself make a better decision by answering key questions like:

  • Will it yield a positive ROI?
  • Are there any associated risks? If so, are they manageable?
  • Does it fit into your company’s portfolio?

Once you’ve collected the data and received feedback from stakeholders, you’ll be able to answer the above questions and confidently decide if undertaking the project makes sense for your business.

2. Design

The design phase of a construction project is crucial to the success of the final product. It involves developing everything – from basic concepts to detailed blueprints highlighting the final design.

Each design created at this stage should meet all project requirements while staying true to the timeline and budget. Once the design is finalized and approved, it’s time for the preconstruction phase.

3. Preconstruction

Preconstruction is the planning phase of a construction project. During this stage, a roadmap for the entire process is established with the goal of ensuring that all parties involved have a clear understanding of what needs to happen and how it should be accomplished. If all parties stick to the plan and execute their roles accordingly, they’ll deliver the project on time, to standard, and within budget.

The preconstruction stage involves a wide variety of tasks. Below you’ll find some of the most important:

  • Define and allocate resources
  • Set up mini-budgets
  • Create timelines and deadlines
  • Distribute tasks
  • Map out work and operations through work breakdown structures (WBS) and organization breakdown structures (OBS)

Risk assessment and contingency planning are also an important part of the preconstruction stage. Things rarely go as planned so when things inevitably falter, project managers and stakeholders must be prepared. The more proactive you are, the less time, money, and resources you’ll lose trying to get back on track.

4. Procurement

The procurement stage includes sourcing, purchasing, and transporting the materials and services needed to complete your project.

To keep costs at bay during the procurement stage, it’s important to include procurement and supply chain managers in the early planning stages of your project. But even including these key players in the earlier stages doesn’t prevent upsurges in costs as prices are subject to shifts in the market. Fortunately, you can account for this risk through robust preconstruction planning.

As a construction site manager, you will also need to decide whether to source your materials locally, regionally, or globally. While local procurement takes less time, it may come at a greater cost. Less expensive materials shipped over a longer distance, on the other hand, may be subject to delays and supply chain interruptions. It’s best to do your research to ensure you choose the best option for your company.

Choosing when to perform procurement is another major decision you will be tasked with during this stage. Rather than completing it before your project begins, you can choose to obtain resources as the project progresses. While this may provide additional flexibility, reduce holding costs, and preserve liquidity, it increases the risk of delayed shipments or shortages that may slow the project.

5. Construction

The plan’s done, your team knows what their tasks are, and you have the resources needed to get started – now construction can commence!

At this stage, all your hard work and planning done in the earlier stages pays off, helping the construction process move along smoothly and finish successfully. But even with the most comprehensive plans in place, there will still be hiccups along the way. Regular monitoring and evaluation of progress during this stage is vital for keeping the project on track.

The Process of Construction Project Management

Now that you know the five major stages involved in every construction project and how they fit together to form a process, it’s time to talk about efficiently planning each project from start to finish with construction project management.

1. Initiation

Before a project can begin, a certified construction project manager must evaluate the business case and determine if the project is worth undertaking. At this stage, stakeholders may also be asked to conduct feasibility testing, which is a detailed analysis that considers all aspects of the proposed project to determine the likelihood of its success.

When all parties agree to proceed to the next step, the project manager devises a project charter or project initiation document (PID), which includes the business needs and the business case.

2. Planning

Once all parties have agreed to move forward with the project, it’s time to get started.

During the planning stage in construction project management, the project team develops a road map for all those involved, which includes the project management plan (PMP). This is a formal, approved document established by the project manager to guide execution and control, as well as set guidelines for the scope, cost, and schedule.

Below are some additional documents you can expect to see in the planning phase:

  • Scope statement and scope documentation: Defines the project’s business needs, benefits, objectives, deliverables, and milestones
  • Work breakdown structure: Breaks down the scope of the project into visual, manageable sections
  • Communication plan: Outlines all aspects of communication, from goals and roles to tools and methods. The goal of this plan is to create a framework that everyone can work from to avoid misunderstandings or conflict.
  • Risk management plan: Helps managers identify risks beforehand

3. Execution

Once the construction project is approved and the team has been assembled, it’s time to get busy.

In this stage, all parties convene for a kickoff meeting to discuss plans for the next phase of work and set up systems to ensure that everything goes smoothly. The project team then begins the crucial work of assigning resources, implementing project management plans, setting up tracking systems, completing tasks, updating the project schedule and if necessary, modifying the project plan.

4. Performance and Monitoring

The performance and monitoring stage of construction project management is a fundamental component of the project life cycle. It happens in conjunction with the execution phase and ensures that items are being completed as expected.

This phase is also necessary to measure progress and performance while ensuring items are in line with the overall project management plan.

5. Closure

The final stage of construction project management is closure. This is the last step before the project is considered complete, and it’s also a good time to reflect on the project as a whole, identify any problems that arose, and discuss what went right.

After the project manager has made sure all open tasks have been completed and any remaining money has been budgeted for, they will issue an official report on the final status of their project. During this phase, project managers may also decide to hold a post-mortem meeting to discuss what went well during the course of the project and what could have been improved.

Effective Project Management Begins with the Right Tools

At SWS Warning Lights, we believe that effective construction project management begins with having the right tools for the job – warning lights included!

With a well-designed warning light, you can help increase safety and efficiency while ensuring that your project stays on track and within budget.

Here at SWS, we manufacture a wide range of warning lights for use in construction applications. For example, our utility/scene illumination warning lights can help brighten your construction zone once the sun goes down, eliminating trips, falls and work-related errors due to poor visibility. Made with durable materials built to last through the roughest conditions, you can count on any one of our utility or scene illumination warning lights to provide your team with the brightness they need to complete the project at hand.

Our beacon warning lights can also be of service at your construction sites. Seen from afar, these bright flashing lights help to keep all parties safe by making them aware of upcoming work zones well in advance. With the help of our low, medium, or high-profile beacons, you can keep everyone informed about the location of your work zones and limit the risk of accidents.

Make Construction Project Planning a Success with SWS

Planning is a critical part of any construction process, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also need to have access to high-quality, reliable warning lights that will help keep your workers safe and your project on schedule. That’s where we come in! As North America’s leader in high-quality warning lights, you can trust us to deliver products that are always up to the task – no matter the application.

Contact us today to get started.

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