In Construction, Project Management is a rewarding and lucrative career for ambitious individuals looking to get ahead in the industry.
However, it is also a highly demanding one. It requires advanced leadership, organization and communication skills, in addition to expertise in the field. Moreover, a great Project Manager is responsible for establishing the project’s scope, budget, and scheduling, as well as leading and delegating tasks to their staff.
Does this sound like the perfect career move for you? This Project Management guide will help you navigate the role’s unique challenges and egg-cell in this fascinating field!
A great Project Manager has to be extremely organized. In fact, the majority of a Project Manager’s responsibilities occur before the spade even hits dirt. These individuals define the scope of the project, the budget, the schedules, coordinating with other supervisors, communicate the expectations of the workers and contractors, and more. To keep track of your to-do list, taking and revising notes should be a continuous effort throughout the project, not just in the initiation and planning stages.
Project Managers, especially those in Construction, are responsible for a diverse range of tasks that can seem overwhelming to those starting out in the industry. By writing everything down, you can see at a glance what needs to be done. Today the industry is rapidly incorporating new technologies that are poised to replace traditional hand written notes or blueprints. Apps such as Microsoft’s OneNote, Evernote, and Google Drive are making this familiar process more mobile, as well as easier to search, read, and share. Additionally, these apps have user-friendly tagging and tasking abilities that help ensure the right parties access the right documents in a timely manner. Managers can even set alarms to high-priority tasks as reminders to more time sensitive objectives!
While written notes are valuable, the cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” holds true on the construction site. Be sure to take plenty of photos (on and off site) that could potentially be relevant to the project. When a client or investor asks about progress or the status of a specific element, it’s much easier to share a photo than it is to describe the site in detail.
Listen and Communicate
For an aspiring Project Manager, listening is just as valuable a skill as directing. Try to engage in conversation with superiors and subordinates as often as possible. This will help you absorb the lingo and speak the language commonly used in construction. Furthermore, remember to always show respect to the tradesmen and apprentices who work on site – their contributions to the project are incredibly valuable. It’s important for any leader to be aware of how their team is functioning or if they have concerns that need to be addressed. We work better when we work together!
Project Managers should frequently check in with the workers, especially at the end of the day. Is there anything you can do to help streamline the building process? A strong leader will also want to ensure that their employees are working in a safe, supported environment where they will be capable of achieving their best work. Finally, make sure that you keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your employees so that you can update them on the expectations regarding the construction process. Are they on schedule, behind or ahead? Make a note of the project’s status (or lack of) and document your team’s effective practices and those that need improvement.
Do Your Homework (and Continue Your Education)
When you are entering this profession, it is wise to take your work materials and construction plans home to study, as long as they aren’t confidential. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the current conventions of the site and the project, a great Project Manager also commits themselves to continuing their knowledge of the industry. The Construction sector is in the midst of great change as new technological advancements and green building practices are revolutionizing processes. A great Project Manager needs to be highly aware of all recent developments.
Staying up to date on current trends could be as simple as following industry professionals online, earning certifications or designations, or continuing a formal education in college programs such as Construction Management. Additionally, websites such as Construction Canada and Canadian Construction Association (CCA) regularly publish news features that highlight industry trends.
Demonstrate Your Worth
As a Project Manager, you can prove your value by letting the numbers speak for themselves. The prices of almost every material used in construction are negotiable. When you’re making purchases on behalf of the project, be sure to get at least three estimates before committing to a buyer (keep records of the prices you were quoted). By negotiating prices, you could save your company a lot of money, which will make you invaluable to your boss. Be sure to document these savings and present them to your employer at the end of the job.
Even an experienced Project Manager will encounter curveballs that are difficult to manage, such as the delivery of materials by vendors. Those in the industry recommend adding at least a week to the estimated time delivery of goods. This way, even if there is a slight delay in the materials being shipped, you can still plan and manage accordingly.
Be clear regarding the client’s expectations of your team and whenever possible, seek written confirmation. If the owner makes a recommendation or change, be sure to take note and follow up by sending an e-mail confirming that change. Be sure to include incidental details such as any changes in cost or estimated scheduling. In order to keep track of the project’s progress and record new information, establish a system so that any changes in the construction planning must be confirmed by you in writing. Changes that are confirmed verbally should be avoided, as it is much more difficult to prove a verbal contract than providing an agreed upon written contract.
Additionally, industry workers advise that it is important not to carry out any changes until the team has received confirmation from the owner (also in writing).
Make Technology Work For You
While certain elements of construction have remained relatively consistent over the years, technological advancements are radically transforming certain aspects of the industry. For example, as a Project Manager, you should research new equipment that may be safer or more efficient for workers. You should also familiarize yourself with new software that will help you manage and track project finances. These programs, such as SmartSheet, help streamline regular status reports by using collaborative software that make prioritizing tasks simple and easily distributed. Additionally, you could manage invoices for contractors or other involved parties with electronic signature software like DocuSign.
Dedicated Project Managers hold post-mortem meetings to identify the successes and failures of a specific project. Held during the project’s conclusion, these meetings promote productive practices and mitigate future risks.
An effective Project Manager is responsible for more than just overseeing a project as it progresses. They are innovators and motivators, responsible for defining the scope of a project, communicating expectations, assessing priorities, solving problems, and constantly furthering their knowledge of the industry. While Project Managers oversee the construction of physical spaces, they must also create an environment where teamwork and cooperation is valued.
Its #ConstructionWeek over at TalentEgg! Want to learn more about working in construction? Check out the Construction Career Guide and get cracking!