To use a simple analogy, a construction project is a bit like putting together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, if any of the pieces are missing or in the wrong place, you won’t be able to complete it.
Each construction project, from civil engineering in St Louis to anywhere else, has to be carefully planned and managed in order to ensure that your vision is able to successfully become a reality.
Defining construction project management
The core principles of project management in general are all about having the skills to direct and coordinate the various human and material resources used to ultimately achieve a predetermined objective.
In simple terms, it is having the technical knowledge, planning and management skills expected of a construction project manager in order to bring everything together and deliver the end result in a timely manner.
If you were to view the job description and list of responsibilities associated with the role of construction project manager, as described by the Construction Management Association of America, you would note that there are as many as 120 common responsibilities listed.
These responsibilities fall within seven distinct categories, which are project, cost and time management, as well as professional practice skills, contract administration abilities, and quality and safety management responsibilities.
There is no question that the role of a construction project manager is pivotal to the the success of any engineering and construction project, whatever the size of the task being taken on.
The planning process
Once you have assembled a suitably qualified project management team that includes appointed contractors and other relevant parties that will be needed to complete the construction project, the detailed planning process can begin.
The normal course of action would be to produce a roadmap that everyone involved can clearly follow. This document will aim to set out the objectives, schedule parameters and the key milestones in the project, so that everyone involved knows exactly what they are working towards and when it is expected to be delivered by.
It often helps to break down the scope of the project into more manageable bites so that there is greater clarity and less opportunity for confusion or omissions.
It is also vital to develop a viable communication plan. The objective of this plan is to clearly define the communication tools and methods that are going to be used and what everyone’s role is within the project.
Having a workable communications plan is essential if you want to ensure that there is a clearly defined line of communication between the various parties and it will greatly reduce the prospect of any misunderstandings as well as helping to minimize the prospect of any conflict.
The other key aspect of your planning is formulating a risk management plan.
Having a clear and concise risk management plan will help to ensure that project managers have identified and known or foreseeable risks associated with the project, which they can then communicate to all relevant parties.
There are normally many risks attached to a construction project, not least the safety of workers on site. Your risk management plan should address the implications of unrealistic time and cost estimates and the impact of a lack of committed resources.
Anticipating potential problems and having a plan on how to counteract them, is an integral part of a successful project management document.
Before work begins
There are a number of issues to address in the pre-construction phase, most of which will have a fundamental impact on when the actual work itself is able to begin.
A site examination is clearly essential as part of the pre-construction process, so that all parties involved can evaluate any problems with access and also discuss any potential situations that could delay or hinder construction work, such as environmental concerns and problems.
Wrapping things up
Once the construction project has been turned into a reality and is completed, there is still a final element of project management duties to finish before signing off and moving on the next task.
It often helps to hold a meeting at the end of the project where you look to evaluate the positive points about the process and what went well during the construction phase, as well as identifying any aspects of the process that failed to meet expectations and required standards.
To be a successful construction project manager, you need a lot of different skills that go beyond technical competence, but it is always satisfying and rewarding to see a vision that started out on paper, become a reality.