Let’s take a quick trip to the past. You and your small construction team are preparing to start your first project. The project isn’t very complicated, all you need to do is construct a very small single-story structure to be used for office work. Things get off to a great start, everyone is enthusiastic about the project and has a wealth of knowledge to bring to the table.
However, without appropriate management, things begin to go wrong. Decisions are being made without consulting the whole team, and additions are being added needlessly. You decide that in order for this project to succeed proper construction management should be in place, but what is construction management?
What This Guide Covers
- What Is Construction Management?
- What Is Construction Management Software?
- The Five Phases of Construction Management
What Is Construction Management?
Put simply, construction management guides a construction project from start to finish. When considering the entire process of construction management, many often refer to time, scope and cost. These three constraints are known as the Triple Constraint, or Project Management Triangle, and are integral to an efficient construction project.
Back to our small project already underway. You, as the construction manager, need to keep an eye on the entire lifecycle of the project. Do you have time to complete it before the client’s move-in date? Are there any specific regulations you need to follow for building in this area? Finally, do you have the budget to cover your costs and buy more supplies as needed?
Starting to feel a bit overwhelmed? Feel like you missed some important concepts in construction management 101? Don’t worry, you aren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last. Lucky for you, the use of construction management software is on the rise and can save you from many of the headaches that go along with managing a construction project.
What Is Construction Management Software?
Wish there was a copy of construction management for dummies you could take a look at? Never fear, construction management software takes all the stressful variables we introduced in the last paragraph and makes them manageable. Your construction management software package will soon become your one-stop shop for maintaining an optimized project.
Automate material procurement, share designs through the cloud, maintain safety records, and speed up the bidding process. Construction management software is a Swiss Army knife that tackles every aspect of a project in an attempt to take some of the burdens off of the construction manager.
Finding the perfect construction management software solution can be a difficult journey all on its own. If you’re in the process of jumping on the efficient construction software train, take some time to think about what your specific requirements for the software would be. If you need some guidance, jump over to our requirements template that can help you get started.
So, we have our definition and know that with the proper software we can tackle anything. What are some of the major phases of construction management and how can a software solution help keep you on track?
The Five Phases of Construction Management
Before the completion of the operation, your project must travel through these five phases of construction management. These phases are meant to ensure a construction project proceeds in a safe and organized fashion.
Chaos on a job site is dangerous, not only to productivity and meeting deadlines but the safety of employees as well. In order to properly maintain control and to optimize the construction process, we will also cover how construction management software can help simplify portions of these phases.
So, before you and your team start laying down the foundation and raising walls, take a breath and guide your project through these phases with some top-tier management software.
The initiation phase of a construction project is meant to finalize the need and feasibility of a project. In regards to our small office project, you’ve already come to the agreement that the area could greatly benefit from some more office space. Normally, drafting a Business Case Document that shows potential financial gains for such a project would be necessary. Luckily for you, the financial gains of your office are well-known.
Next up, the project must be considered feasible in order to move on to the next phase. Let’s take a step back and consider if the office is a feasible project. The size of the project is very manageable, so scaling down isn’t something that needs to be considered. As great as a built-in rock-climbing area sounds, perhaps we should scrap that aspect in order to pass the feasibility test. Otherwise, it looks like we are good to go.
After spending some time discussing if the project is necessary and possible, stakeholders would (hopefully) give the project in question the green light.
Now, how can a construction management software suite help speed up and organize this first phase?
Before the project officially begins there are going to be a lot of meetings. Well, there will probably be a lot of meetings throughout the entire process in all honesty. After a long day of hard work keeping accurate meeting minutes, organizing times and emailing invitations to future meetings can be difficult. With construction management software, you can automate many of these tedious administrative tasks that go along with project meetings.
Technically, the bidding process occurs before initiation begins, but this functionality is worth mentioning. To make a long story short, the bidding process has to do with picking out your contractor(s) and discussing payment options. Before beginning the office project, you would definitely make sure the teams you invite don’t have a history of shoddy building. The bidding process is similar; you either choose a contractor through an agreeable bid on the project, study their qualifications or a combination of both.
Instead of dealing with disorganized pen and paper methods of managing multiple bids, construction management software takes care of the leg work. Utilizing an easy to access dashboard, you can manage and view multiple bids in one location. With this functionality, you can make decisions faster than ever before.
As the old saying goes, measure twice cut once. This phase of the construction project lifecycle creates and lays out a plan for the rest of the project. During the planning phase, you would sit down and create a strategy to complete the entire undertaking. In order to organize this phase, many project managers create a scope of work to guide the project along its many degrees of completion.
Your scope of work is the touchstone that everyone taking part in the project refers to. You’ll be deciding how to procure all of the materials needed, where to procure them from, establishing a budget for the project, and laying out deadlines for goals. If you’re feeling some pressure, that’s normal. A scope of work is a large and important undertaking. Luckily, construction management software comes with a wide array of functionalities meant to help keep projects on track.
There are a lot of moving parts in any given construction project, and everything needs to fall within an established timeline. Construction management software allows you to filter your schedules by job-site, which provides another helpful layer of visibility. Schedule preventative maintenance as your projects go on to prevent any damage to the final product.
No one wants to put pen to paper and balance a budget, and there is no reason you have to. Quickly calculate a new budget or import one from another program and generate subcontracts and supplier agreements. Reducing human error is key to optimizing any project, and budget functionalities help limit mistakes in calculation.
Your bidding process is complete, the project is feasible and cost-effective, you have a strong scope of work in place and you are ready to begin construction. You have officially begun the execution of your plan and are in the third stage of a construction project. Now is when your various construction teams begin working on-site to complete goals as laid out by the timeline. The layout and steps to finish our office are set, time to dig into that pile of materials you sourced from across town.
Data flow is critical during this phase of the construction project. As your teams progress along their timelines toward the final goal, there should be a steady stream of information flowing in from all job sites. Any hiccups, materials discrepancies or general questions should travel through their lines of communication as soon as they crop up. Communication is the name of the game in this phase, and the project manager should use the data communicated to them to offset any possible issues on the horizon.
As your project moves along, you’ll want some help keeping all of your plates spinning. Construction management software is becoming the go-to source when optimizing the execution of construction projects.
Punch and To-Do Lists
Near the end of a construction project, a punch list provides an ordered list of repairs and final objectives before the project’s end. With the ease of access to a wide array of data from all points of the project, you can quickly see what needs fixing and when to schedule it.
Equipment and Tools Management
Nothing slows down a project like inoperable equipment. Stay on top of your gear’s health and usage with equipment management. Maintain an orderly list of when, where, and who is using equipment at any given point in time.
The monitoring phase is just that, a phase for monitoring every step of the construction project as it happens. Again, communication is key to producing a stellar final result that will please the project owners. This phase usually runs alongside the execution phase and acts as a guiding hand till the end of the project’s lifecycle. As your teams work, you’ll have some valuable data points to look over and correct as deadlines come and go.
As you go through the materials you procured in the planning stage, you’ll want a real-time view of your stocks to ensure you won’t suddenly find a job-site missing key material. Think of this phase as your attempt to keep everything within your established scope of work. This is also the phase to settle any disputes or problems that may arise during construction, although with your scope of work in place most of this can be avoided.
If a team is having trouble, spend some time helping them solve their issues. If one group is using one type of material for your office’s ceiling and one thinks a different material is better could end up with some confusing arguments.
When the end of the project approaches, you’ll use this phase to complete any final repairs or fixes still in need of execution. Final safety checks comb through the entirety of the final product to make sure the owner is receiving a safely built product.
Once again, construction management software is quite literally made to streamline this process. Take advantage of time-saving inclusions that provide valuable visibility throughout the lifespan of the construction project.
Daily Logs and Field Reports
Having a clear view of everything going on in a project is vital to keeping things running smoothly. Receive constant reports and feedback from all points of the construction project and strengthen your decision making with valuable data. Maintain a running record of important factors like completed tasks, weather and any incidents that occur on a job site.
Maintaining a safe job site is a top concern for any construction manager. Access helpful safety audit templates that can help you stay on top of safety compliance. A safe workplace means happy employees and litigation prevention. Create custom safety checklists to manage your project’s safety routines.
Finally, the construction project is complete. You will hand over any final deliverables to the client, which can include a number of documents. Project resource releases, releasing contractors from any binding contracts and putting together a study of what went well and what didn’t are all common undertakings in this phase.
This phase is mostly about the client and allowing them to inspect the project to make sure it aligns with their goals. Keeping organized from the beginning of a project to the end is key to making this phase go as smoothly as possible. If you’ve been bogged down in a chaotic mess of paperwork you can safely assume that the closing phase will run into more than a few snags.
Taking photos throughout the construction process can help give current, and future, clients an inside look at how your projects are run. Easily upload photos directly into project templates or into presentations for prospective clients.
A well-kept project leads to fewer repairs before closure and happier clients. Customize checklists from a variety of templates to define quality and safety expectations for all of your job sites. Standardize your reporting processes and gain insight into areas of the construction project that need adjusting.
As you start to search for the perfect construction management software solution, the wide breadth of choices can be overwhelming. Our comparison guide can give you a leg up and allow you to quickly weigh top competitors against each other.
Good construction management makes for good products. The way your project receives its guidance heavily dictates how well things will go as you move through the five phases of a construction project. Find a good construction software package and take your projects to the next level, you’ll wonder how you ever ran a project without one.
How has implementing construction management software improved your construction projects? Let us know by leaving a comment below!