Whether it be commercial, residential or industrial, all construction projects will require solid project management to fulfil the demands and expectations of the stakeholders. Project managers working in the construction industry will oversee the direction, regulation and supervision of the project, from the early stages of development to the final completion.
WHY IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT VITAL FOR THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?
More often than not, construction projects will involve careful planning of activities, management of budget and time constraints, timelines and stakeholder expectations. For residential homes or commercial buildings, it is important to factor in any uncertainties such as weather, supplier issues, and legal disputes (just to name a few). An ineffective system of project management can lead to exceeding budgets, timeline delays and an unsuccessful completion of the project. When dealing with a high risk project environment, the stakeholders may find themselves dealing with significant financial losses, a damaged reputation and wasted resources.
On a national scale, the urgency for higher quality project management in the construction industry was highlighted in a recent study by Haron et al (2017). It was outlined that due to poor project management practices, there is an increasing sight of collapsing buildings, cracked roads and abandoned private and public construction projects, leading to a negative public outlook. As the construction industry is a key contributor to the national economy, there is an increasing focus on hiring qualified and knowledgeable project managers who can prevent project failures and enhance the quality of infrastructure in the country.
PM PRACTICES IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
1. Critical Path Method (CPM)
A popular tool used by project managers working in the construction industry, CPM helps map out the planning process of construction to achieve maximum efficiency. This is mostly effective for large scale projects that involve various constraints and less flexibility to making changes.
CPM can be applied to construction projects by:
- Using critical path software to simplify the project and obtain more accurate calculations on areas like the total float of the construction managers. The total float refers to the amount of time that a task can be delayed without pushing back the project finish date.
- Using the Earn Value Management method to accurately keep track of costs and progress
- Generating a graphic overview of the project, which outlines high priority tasks, risks involved, timeframe and distribution of roles. This is achieved through the use of CPM software or Gantt charts.
Agile methodologies can be tailored to provide significant benefits to construction projects by applying selective aspects of it within the context of the project. For example, unlike software projects, the execution phases in construction are largely linear, meaning that processes cannot be delayed or relocated to a later stage. Hence, by creating a hybrid model that utilises key strengths of Agile in construction projects, the following benefits can be derived:
- Improved client engagement in the early stages of the project (e.g. design planning) and encouraging further participation in the outcome.
- Complex tasks can be separated into smaller and more practical segments to conduct a more seamless management and reduce the risks/uncertainty involved.
- Frequent reviews of finances using tools such as the burndown chart can result in improved tracking of productivity and profitability, as well as management of costs and budget.
- Improved team collaboration as workers provide feedback to construction managers on areas of improvement, which can further enhance efficiency.
THE ROLE OF PMI IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
Through the Construction Extension of the PMBOK Guide, PMI is able to provide guidance that is specific to PM professionals working on construction projects. This guide also discusses the current and emerging trends and developments in the construction industry, which keeps skills and knowledge up to date.
As outlined by PMI, the Construction Extension of the PMBOK Guide includes further areas of discussion including:
- All project resources, rather than just human resources
- Project health, safety, security and environment management
- Project financial management, in addition to cost
- Management of claims in construction
At PMCOE, we are an Authorised Training Partner of PMI. For more information on project management training, please visit https://pmcoe.com.au