While a construction project can be outlined as planning, design, and financing followed by the actual construction, there is much more to it than meets the eye.
Individually, these processes are manageable for a person with sound expertise, but when combined, they form a process that requires greater administration. Large-scale Construction projects are considerably even more challenging to manage. It requires collaboration across the different domains involved, which are already a collaboration of sub-domains.
On top of it, several other factors need to be taken into consideration while designing and executing a construction project, for example, environmental impact, scheduling, budgeting, availability of building materials, logistics, inconvenience to the public caused by construction delays, and much more.
In this case, a project manager is responsible for the budgeting while the remaining tasks are divided in the following manner.
- The task of construction administration is assigned to a construction manager
- Designing is assigned to an engineer or a team of engineers
- An architect or construction engineer is responsible for the supervision of the construction process.
Even after segregating this hefty process, It is very challenging and burdensome for a single person to carry out the construction project management. Keeping tabs alone on the allocation and consumption of funds across all divisions is tedious enough. It makes one wonder, what is the use of all the technical advancements if we cannot make this process less complicated.
This is where the project management software swoops in. The introduction of project management software for the construction industry is an epitome of how IT has influenced and revolutionized all industries.
Project management software
As the name suggests, a computer program or software which assists a project manager in managing a project along with its resources while promising a less complicated and highly optimized process is project management software.
What usually comes to one’s mind when he thinks about project management software is collaboration and communication between the different branches of a project, but it is much more.
What goes in the shadows is the level of transparency and relief for the management as well as time-saving and cost-cutting. With numerous other benefits, project management software has proven to be the optimum choice for several industries.
What exactly is project management?
Project management is best explained through the five phases defined by the Project Management Institute.
Feasibility study, Evaluation of the business case, development of the procedure to be followed, and the scope of the project with respect to profit is what comprises the initiation process of project management.
Usually, projects which are of large scale or require a significant sum of investment have several stakeholders or investors involved, which are also required to carry out their due diligence before the project moves forward. This is followed by a project initiation document (PID) developed by the project manager, which defines the steps to be followed to complete the project.
For successful project completion, along with optimization, it is crucial to develop a plan. In the phase of planning, the project manager develops a project management plan (PMP), which is first approved by the concerned persons and then distributed among the management to be carried out in the given sequence. Planning may potentially include the following documents:
- Work breakdown structure (WBS): This document contains the segregation of projects into visual, manageable parts.
- Scope statement and scope documentation: This document contains the project’s business need, benefits, objectives, deliverables, and critical milestones.
- Communication plan: The communication plan is aimed to create a regulatory process so that the various divisions involved can work together without any conflicts and integration becomes easier.
- Risk management plan:
- The role of this document is clear from its name, reducing or estimating risk based on cost, resources, timelines, and so on. It aids the project manager in preparing for potential risks to assure a successful project in the end despite the risks encountered. This risk reduction will range from anything from contract breach’s to fall protection equipment.
This is where the actual work is started. From assigning resources, implementing project management plans, allocating the funds, completing milestones, updating the project schedule to modifying the project plan, everything is carried out as agreed upon in the previous steps.
4: Performance and Monitoring
Any project is expected to fulfill a specific business purpose in an optimized way. To ensure the business goals are achieved, the performance and monitoring phase is carried out concurrently with the execution phase.
Everything needs closure. All the milestones reached or skipped, are analyzed in this phase along with a detailed report formed, which consists of a final budget, the issues, if any, and a list of remaining tasks.
What is Construction Project Management?
When it comes to managing a construction process, one has to have the knowledge and experience in all the departments involved as well as strong communication skills for better coordination among those departments. In simple terms, it refers to planning, monitoring, procurement, coordinating, and carrying out the construction process.
Types of Construction Projects
Although there are numerous types of constructions that are carried out for different purposes and infrastructures, the construction projects can be broadly divided into the following categories:
- Residential home building and renovation
- Heavy industrial construction
- Commercial and institutional construction
- Engineering construction
Construction Project Phases
No matter what kind of construction project has to be managed, its process is classified in the following phases.
1. Planning Stage
Planning is the least expensive step, but if done properly, it has the potential to greatly impact the overall cost. Right planning does reduce not only the chances of threats but also reduces the time and efforts along with a structured development.
Planning in a construction project includes the preparation of documents that outline the construction process, analyzing the financial and business aspects, and the formation of a strategy. It also includes the feasibility study, and all of this is then reported to the stakeholders for their approval.
2. Preconstruction Stage
After a schema has been completed in the previous step, the preconstruction stage is where the collection and allocation of resources are done. This is done through the construction documents prepared.
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Construction documents usually contain three stages: schematic design design development and construction documents, which are formulated by the construction manager. The construction manager is then responsible for aligning the stakeholders and other management personnel and explaining the process to be carried out.
Procurement is the collection of the resources needed for the project, which have been agreed upon by all the persons involved in the project. It is mostly done by a sub-division of the company as it not only involves the resources but transportation, petrol costs, labor costs, and much more. However, in the case of a small-scale project, this step is supervised by the project manager.
Finally, the process of constructing can be initiated. With proper planning and all the resources available, the only concern left is to carry out the proper execution of the tasks and confirm each milestone. The project manager is usually buried under a ton of work in this phase, as he has to keep the stakeholders in the loop as well as ensure the successful continuation of the project.
Other than these phases, Construction project management consists of managing the following divisions:
- Hazardous Waste
Benefits of using a construction project management software
Now that we have seen what a project management software is, and how tremendously complicated a construction project management can be, let us evaluate the facilities and benefits of using construction project management software.
1: Gantt Chart Software
A Gantt chart provides a pictorial representation of the tasks involved in a project. A glance at a fully built Gantt provides the following details
- Different activities involved in the project
- The initiation and end of each task
- Status and time period of each activity
- Dependency between the events and tasks
- The start and end date of the whole project
For better coordination, you can add tasks with their dependencies on other tasks belonging to the same or different divisions, which will avoid any potential conflicts and ensures a successful continuation. You can also add task due date to the list view of the Gantt chart.
2: Task Management
Project management tools such as PlanStreet provide an extensive facility for task management. Such tools recognize that each individual task is as important as the whole project, and in order to reach the milestones, all tasks are to be completed and that too in an optimized way.
All team members can check the tasks assigned to them, and the project manager can easily keep a tab on the status of tasks as well as the team members. All of this is done through online software, so there is no need to carry those big and heavy paper folders and be at their mercy. You can access it anytime and anywhere.
3: Time and Expense Tracking
Tools like PlanStreet also offer Timesheets and daily time card that helps you and your team when it comes to planning and executing the construction project. You can not only just keep the record of the funds allocated and spent in each division of the project or spent on the resources, but you can also form a requirement analysis in terms of funds and time for different divisions and develop an estimation for each aspect.
Communication is an easy word but takes a lot of effort to carry out. Without successful communication, a project can not reach its optimum stage. Project management tools play a vital role in establishing communication. In a construction process where one process is dependent on the other, it can be hazardous if proper communication is not there.
Construction project management software enables all the team members to keep their own task records. It also establishes internal dependencies that are notified to the respective members so that a structure can be followed. As it is not centralized, no one has to wait to get notified in person. With the history maintained in the software, the chances of disputes become extremely low.