Serving as a construction manager is a lot like being a General in the Army going to war. There are dozens of things to juggle at any one time, from the battlefield troops you will need, what air cover is necessary, how many tanks are necessary, and how to fuel all those tanks and feed all those soldiers.
It’s the same with a construction project. Everything needs to be broken down into small, manageable tasks, then coordinated, and managed. Here are several of the top tricks to help you keep everything together.
Plan, plan, and then do more planning
The old carpentry proverb is to measure twice, cut once. In a construction project, it’s probably more like measure 10 times, cut once, but the same principle applies. Your number 1 task is to break at least a hundred tasks into small, manageable goals.
Answering the questions, Who, What When, and how. What workmen and resources do you need? When do you need them? Who will individually be responsible for completing each stage, and how will you get it all done in the most economic and orderly manner.
Solicit feedback from everyone in order to reduce costs. For example, John, a supervisor who works in plumbing, may have a personal friend who is reliable at excavating and will cut several hundred dollars off the excavating budget by doing a dry excavator hire. Collectively, the combined feedback from your work crew may save thousands of dollars on the overall construction budget.
Get a planning team together
Don’t try to do it all yourself. If you do, chances are at least one, and perhaps many critical elements of the project will fail. You need a team of as many as 10 people with experience in construction to produce the best blueprint. Nobody knows it all.
Be prepared for things to go wrong
A project manager gets paid the big bucks because no project goes perfectly. Instead of moaning or fretting over what went wrong and who was responsible, ultimately your bosses, as well as the clients, rely on you to own up as soon as possible that something went wrong, and here’s how you propose to fix it. Nobody wants bad news, but key project leaders and clients appreciate being appraised immediately, not assigning blame, and coming up with a reasonable plan to fix it.
Set a completion schedule for each major task
Depending on the project, you and your team should have broken down each of the major tasks into subtasks. Each should have an estimated completion date. Once these tasks are all identified, distribute a flow chart of how the project should come together.This is your basic blueprint, which should be updated every two weeks.
You’ll naturally be in communication with your bosses and the client, but its face to face meetings with the supervising managers of each department, including subcontractors, that counts. You as the project manager and two or three of your team should be in attendance along with the major project supervisors and the supervisors of the subcontractors.
At each meeting, pull out the project completion blueprint showing everyone what you expect to be completed by a certain date, and ask each supervisor to give a brief progress report, along with any problems that may be arising.
Be sure you have the authority you need
Being selected as a project coordinator is a great responsibility, but one that sometimes demands quick decisions. Be sure your bosses know that you may need to have an unresponsive supervisor replaced if they aren’t on the same wavelength as your team, and that there is money available at your disposal to solve emergencies, such as a subcontractor of the plumbing system going broke, and you need to hire a new subcontractor stat.