Construction management involves the amalgamation of an array of services through the project phases of construction planning, designing, execution, and commissioning, aimed towards achieving project objectives such as management of quality, cost, time, and scope. Projects are complex in nature with numerous construction management processes in different phases of the project. There is a complex relationship of numerous stakeholders -the top management teams, the planners, designers, construction managers, contractors, suppliers to the site workers to be managed throughout the different phases of the project. The key aspects that we would discuss are,
- Decision making process while Setting up the scope during the project initiation
- Collaborative Construction planning and scheduling
- Construction Project monitoring and Reporting plan
- Managing the changes and risks in construction projects
- Communication & Collaboration in construction project management
- Strategic implementation of the right methods to manage projects effectively
- Adopting Lean workflows
- Importance of people and processes in managing construction projects
Construction Project initiation and setting the scope
This is one of the most important phases of the project where the feasibility to execute the construction projects is analysed. It is necessary to agree on the scope of work to be performed, have clarity on the best construction project management processes to be adopted throughout the project lifecycle and make sure that all the stakeholders are aware of these decisions.
The decision-making processes involves an extensive construction project planning exercise and one got to make sure that there is involvement of the respective people to set the strategies right. Communication plan between the top management and the different stakeholders in the different construction phases is something that is overlooked due to the conventional project set up, that completely ignores the flow of work.
Construction Planning & Scheduling
Any construction project begins with the development of a detailed construction phase plan setting the high-level targets for the teams to successfully complete the project within the planned scope, budget, and cost. Even with extensive construction phase plans being prepared by the masterminds of the project, majority of them fall back due to various challenges and complexities involved, depending on the scale of the project.
These stats reiterate the fact that even with detailed construction planning practices, projects tend to have the challenges of dealing with scope, cost, and schedule overruns.
So how does the planning take place in the conventional set up?
The high-level estimates are made based on contractually agreed milestones by the top management which is transferred to the planners who then make detailed construction estimates based on assumptions. This masterplan is pushed to the contractors who push the targets to the workers on site, who constantly firefight to achieve the unrealistic targets set by the top management with very minimal involvement in the actual production. This type of planning is what is referred as the Top-down approach where there is constant push of targets from the top level.
Challenges with this conventional approach of construction planning are,
- The project plans are unrealistic as they do not account of any site conditions, buffers, or inputs from the people with maximum involvement in the work
- Planned in silos based on assumptions.
- Less reliability as there are numerous revisions
- Constant push creating pressure on the work crew
- Poor communication leading to multiple versions of construction plans with different suppliers and contractors.
So, the solution for this is to basically balance the push with the pull. We get the people who have the maximum involvement in actually completing the task get involved in the construction planning processes. This method is called the bottom-up planning where the actual work crew breaks down the tasks, commits to them, and there is a collaborative environment where the people review the constraints and make reliable construction plans.
To read more what is Top down and Bottom planning, head over to – https://visilean.com/2020/02/18/uniting-the-top-down-and-bottom-up-approaches-to-planning/
Role of construction project management software
We know that we have various construction management software solutions from primavera, excel, to Microsoft project and yet we face all the challenges we discussed. So, what are we missing here? Even with the best construction project management tools on board, we are missing on the workflow that facilitates a collaborative process that would bring both the top down and bottom-up plans in sync. This would look something like,
- Top management defining the Contractual milestones
- Contractors and planners breaking the construction phase plan to manageable tasks
- Site teams defining clear look ahead and committing to their work. Making sure they have everything on board to maintain the flow of work.
This way both the top level and the site teams are on the same board, and all have clarity on what needs to be done, what has been done and a set up a feedback mechanism to review what is stopping their progress and thus paving the way for continuous improvement.
If you are interested to merge your top-down plans with your bottom-up plans, start a fully featured free trial with VisiLean at – https://visilean.com/free-trial/
Construction Project monitoring and Reporting
Once the project plans are set and the execution at site kicks off, the next biggest task for every stakeholder on the project is to stay on track with the schedule. We measure the progress and the status of the work by monitoring the work done and the people performing the tasks generate various construction reports. The reporting plans and the frequencies, the mode of reporting, the documents required are all well planned in advance to submit to the top management.
All this is good, but do you wonder how much time in spent at the construction job site generating reports – site diaries, daily progress reports, updating spreadsheets daily, eventually generating hundreds of reports for every single project? There is just so much manual reporting by the crew- filling checklists, pour cards, attendance forms and the list goes on. This gets passed on to the manager preparing the monthly reports to be submitted to the top management.
Imagine the plight of a construction manager handling 10 different projects? The whole process of generating tones of reports is one of the biggest wastes in the construction management process. Instead of focusing on the actual work to be done, the construction manager attends phone calls, generate reports that just piles up at the office table.
The solution is simple – Instead of getting into this endless loop of phone calls and WhatsApp messages, it is necessary to set a workflow and automate the whole construction reporting with the help of suitable construction management software solutions. The project stakeholders must have the power to report their concerns at ease, notify their teams and get their queries addressed at the shortest time possible. A lot of time is wasted in just communicating the site issues to the office, and thus it is essential that the construction project management tools used bridge the gap between the site and the office.
VisiLean is one of the construction project management software solutions that gives the power of reporting to the people at the job site. With a dedicated construction management mobile app – Livesite, the crew at the job site can give real time status report and stay connected to the office. To experience the power of real time construction reporting and to give instant project updates, download the LiveSite app –
Android App – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.visilean.livesite
iOS App- https://apps.apple.com/in/app/livesite/id1533646047
LiveSite is an innovative cloud-based construction management service. Based on Lean principles, LiveSite offers a highly intuitive way to manage your construction projects. The LiveSite app enables field-based access to the construction tasks, including task status management, snagging (or issue list), access to drawings and specifications, communication and photo upload.
Managing the Changes and Risks
Changes occur for various reasons in construction projects, the most common being changes in specifications, design, or execution itself. They occur in all forms – sometimes client information is missing, sometime the design specifications, and some changes are due to changes in external site conditions and so on. All these ultimately end up affecting the schedule, cost and the entire flow of the construction project leading to time and budget overruns. The reasons for these changes and revisions occurring cannot be predicted always, but the construction plans can definitely be formulated in a way that accounts for such buffers. It is absolutely necessary that the construction project planning processes are not just based on assumptions but include all the stakeholders.
We all know that changes and risks are to be identified, reported, analysed and actions must be taken on them at the earliest. While this is something that is common, the overall management processes involved matter the most. Things that most of must focus on the construction management process are –
- Decision-making processes
- Involvement of the right stakeholders at the right time
- Avoid planning in Silos – rather try to integrate them to gain more clarity and predict the risks and changes
- Avoid changes as far as possible with the help of technologies
- Collaborate and set up communication plans with team to address these changes
As we all know, changes and risks are part of the project, hence it’s up to us whether we want to change the construction management processes that address these changes or let the changes keep affecting our workflows.
Read more about it at – https://visilean.com/2021/01/07/change-management-managing-constant-revisions/
Communication & Collaboration
Setting clear communication and collaboration plans for efficient construction project management is one the things that is overlooked in the industry. We spend hours together putting up a construction master plan, but we never plan how will we actually communicate within the project teams? Collaborative planning is achieved through bringing in the right people together at the right time with the right construction management solutions.
We spoke about the bottom-up approach of getting your site teams involved in your planning; this way the teams get clarity on the work, review the status, visualise milestones and discuss the issues. it is necessary to simplify construction management process and workflows – removing complications and hurdles that disrupt the flow of information and improve the communication between all stakeholders of the projects.
VisiLean is a cloud-based construction management platform that focuses on collaborative planning by addressing the core issues of construction. Head over to https://visilean.com/ to digitalise your workflows and maximise your results.
Strategic implementation of the right methods
The adoption of any methods for construction management would require a strategic implementation to help the project and the organisation overall which include –
- Change in the behaviour at both individual and organisation level in adopting new efficient workflows
- Overcoming resistance towards the hurdles faced in initial adoption of better technologies and construction management process
- Not expecting immediate results and putting in consistent efforts to strive for practical improvements in stages.
- Needs amalgamation of the right process, people and tools to achieve benefits
If you have decided to implement the right methods to digitalise and improve your construction project management process, sign up for a fully featured free trial with VisiLean at https://visilean.com/free-trial/
Adopting Lean workflows
Adopting Lean workflows ensures that your construction management processes facilitate smooth execution of activities on-site with minimum wastage of resources, while ensuring the needs of the supply-chain are delivered at every stage. This requires a thorough review and ironing-out of existing practices and workflows.
We got to address the core production processes. For example, Lean production management involves a dedicated make-ready process to ensure the tasks are checked for prerequisites such as material, space, and manpower, before the work is started on-site. This considerably minimises unexpected stoppages and issues during execution of the work, ensuring production flow and smooth handovers. Focus is more on generating value to the client, by ensuring information flows.
With lean workflows in our current construction management processes, we make sure that-
- there is Involvement of Downstream players in the planning process
- We take commitments from the last planners
- We make sure that there is no disruption of work by following a dedicated make ready process
- Strive towards complete improvement by reviewing the work frequently and taking actions.
VisiLean is a dedicated Lean-BIM integrated construction project management solution with features facilitating true collaboration and seamless communication. Head over to https://visilean.com/features/ to know about the Lean BIM features facilitating construction projects.
Ultimately, it’s the people and not the software
You can have the best construction management software’s with you, but ultimately, it’s the people who will make things happen in your project. One can have the best technologies set up in their projects, but if the people are resistant towards the change, and not willing to adopt new construction management processes there will be no improvement. The more we empower the stakeholders by understanding their needs, providing them with the right processes and tools to manage their workflows, the more benefits we realise in our construction projects.
We definitely cannot expect the technology to do the magic for us in improving our project performance. The best way to implement any construction management software solution to solve your problems is to first realise the crux of the problem, adopt strategies and supporting process.
If it were just about adoption of tech, with numerous construction project management solutions in the market, all projects would have been completed on time with absolutely no budget overruns.
One of the most utopian tech in our industry is BIM for construction management process. This has set high expectations that the construction industry expects BIM to do the magic to improve the project performance. BIM has become a buzzword and considered as a central vehicle to increase project performance.
At VisiLean, we strive towards simplifying construction management process and workflows – removing complications and hurdles that disrupt the flow of information and improve the communication between all stakeholders of the projects.
VisiLean helps you transition seamlessly towards Lean digitalisation. With dedicated support and excellent system interoperability, we respect your teams’ familiarisation with existing platforms and workflows, promising smooth onboarding and transition across the organisation, one step at a time.
Address these key aspects in your construction project management process by starting a fully featured free trial at https://visilean.com/free-trial/