26 October 2022 5 min read

Construction Project Management:

Beginners Guide


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When you're new to construction, there's a ton to learn. This article will cut your learning curve by teaching you the basics of project management in the classic construction project management for dummies style. Enjoy. 

What is Construction Project Management?

Construction Project Management (CPM) is the process of managing a project from the first initiation to the last handover or maintenance process.

The aim of CPM is to always finish on time, within budget and with required deliverables. CPM can be an excellent method for companies from any construction sector such as fit-out, demolition, heavy civil or building.

Usually, we can divide the project management process in construction into five stages, but the specification can vary and depends on your company's needs.

Stages of Construction Project Management

  1. Pre-Contract stage

    CPM starts even before any work on a construction site occurs. During the pre-contract stage, all essential factors are set: estimated budget, type (open bid vs close bid), delivery date and main deliverables that need to be fulfilled in quality, as well as features.

    After that, you can create a Project Initiation Document (PID). The document aims to define your project, secure all the decisions made during the meetings and define the responsibility of each project participant. The clear division of duties is crucial as when risks occur, it will be much easier to find the person responsible for it and react faster.

  2. Pre-construction stage
    Once the frames are set, it is time to plan each stage of the project. During the kick-off meeting, the project manager organises the team and sets responsibilities and objectives.

    Also, such a meeting is connected with the WBS (the work breakdown structure), in which the main deliverables specified in the project initiation document are divided into smaller tasks.

    However, to not overwhelm you with the number of definitions and specialised terminology, the most important thing you must remember to do in this phase is to create a proper schedule for your project. In an adequate plan, you need to include the procurement phase, the delivery dates of materials and, if possible, some extra time in case of any delays.3.

  3. Construction Delivery
    With a good plan, we are ready to work! The construction delivery stage connects with two main activities: executing and monitoring.

    For both, you need proper and fast information flow in the company. Even the best project manager will not be able to see and know everything. That is why they should be all the time in contact with the employees working on the construction site to be able to monitor the project’s progress.

    Expect the project’s progress: the project manager should also have a constant view of the budget. Whenever you add a new expense to the project, it should be automatically visible in the budget!
  4. Handover Processes

    When all works on construction sites are done, it's time for the completion processes. The project manager summarises the project regarding the provisions of the contract and the Project Initiation Document.

    The final report should include what worked well, what kind of risks occurred and how the team dealt with them, the final budget with costs split into categories, and other information depending on the contract requirement.

    Except for the primary documents, the project manager should also create a report with lessons learned for future projects.

    Such documents include all the demanding situations from the project with a description of how the team managed them. Such lessons learned are crucial for future investments as they help avoid the same mistakes, assuring the projects' profitability.

  5. Maintenance Processes
    Maintenance Processes will not occur in each project, but depending on the contract, they might happen. This phase includes all processes connected with repairs, parts exchange or additional services.

    That is why to conduct it properly, all documentation related to the project should be stored after its completion and easily accessible to any employee (as the project manager might be already involved in a different project).

    The Role of Construction Project Manager

    The role of the construction project manager consists of taking care of proper project planning and initiation, controlling all the stages and the set budget during the execution.

    What is Construction Project Management Software?

    Read this related content: top 15 construction project management software & tools in 2022.

    Construction project management software is a system that helps organise, execute and control all the processes connected with the project.

    The main aim is to automate and streamline repetitive tasks while keeping the project in line with time and budget. Nowadays, you can see many different project management software on the market that offer digital, often cloud-based support, keeping all information gathered and managed by the project manager and updated in one place.

    The Importance of Budget Tracking in CPM

    Budgets are crucial to construction project management. In order to always finish projects within the budget, let us share with you some key steps that you should follow:

    1. Before setting up the budget, analyse your future project twice

      If you have your planned budget at your disposal, it's worth digging deeper for weak points and possible risks.
    2. Accord your budget to the timeline of the project

      Any costs on the project should always be matched to the project schedule. For example, the project manager should plan the procurement of needed materials before the project starts to avoid delays that can heavily impact the project budget.

      In this case, it is the role of the project manager to adapt the timeline and recognise the dependency between tasks assuring the project completion.

    3. Keep the database of costs constantly updated to see the current situation of the project

      Those who do not monitor the actual situation of the project costs, do not have control of the project at all.The era of Excel and calculation on paper is almost gone. For successful construction project management, you need a modern solution that gives you the latest financials straight away.
    4. Store all needed documentation in one place after the project's completion

      Organised and archived documentation serves your company in two ways. On one hand, it gives your company great control over your project finances as you can see, which contractor is late with payments or which is still waiting for our actions.

      On the other hand, such documents can be a great source of knowledge for the project manager (and not only!) to avoid the same mistakes. It is often called a lesson learned in project management.

    Read this article related content about data analytics in construction and how you can use it.

      Key Principles of Construction Project Management

      Here are 10 fundamental principles that you should follow during the construction project management process:

      1. Before the project starts, set the main deliverables and describe what must be done to consider the project execution as successful

      2. During the project's planning, split the main tasks into smaller actions and assign the employees responsible for them

      3. Schedule the project in connection to the delivery of materials, days off for employees and, if possible, some spare time in case of any delays

      4. Control the budget from the very start and update it with every new expense

      5. Set clear and constant communication with employees to be able to react fast to any changes

      6. Define the risks before the project starts and the rules of conduct if they occur

      7. Keep your employees informed about the project's progress and any significant changes

      8. Store all needed documentation in one place for any maintenance actions or future projects

      9. After the project, always try to define what you learned that can be helpful in future investments

      10. Consider investing in modern digital solutions that can accelerate your processes and assure the proper information flow inside the company

      As you can see, construction project management is a detailed and demanding process. The project manager deals with significant responsibility for the budget, schedule, employees and client satisfaction.

      This is why it is so crucial to give the project manager good tools to manage it all. It means a proper digital solution that will show him an automatically updated situation of any project, while at the same time assuring a fast and streamlined flow of information.

      Archdesk can help you. If you want to see the role technology can play in project management, click the link below.

      See Archdesk's Solutions


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