New technologies have put construction project management on the cutting edge, with the ability to have better, quicker and smarter projects. Projects are what determine not only financial success, but how their company’s reputation develops in the industry.
One of the most important positions in a construction company is the project manager (or project supervisor, depending on your terminology). Other employees in the company have numerous tasks, or jobs that they are responsible for on an individual project, whereas a project manager has to be able to do it all – well. They are required to know and understand all plans and specs, who is working on the project, what the end goals are, what the budget it and more. on top of all of that, the project manager is somewhat the face of the company. He or she needs to stick to the company’s mission and build their reputation by finishing the job on time and exceeding the clients expectations.
How is Construction Project Management Different?
Project management is a term that is loosely used in all forms of business. It might mean that someone is overseeing a small group of people that are working on a short-term project, or a person that oversees a whole department for a long time.
A single person is usually all that is required to do the work of a project manager for a company in other industries. Perhaps they are changing the way data is collected in order to produce financial reports, or maybe designing a new marketing plan for a growing company. Anything that can be called a project, technically can have a project manager. In other industries the bulk of the work is done by one person, or a small group. Check lists or spreadsheets are all that is needed to keep track of the work being done.
Larger companies in other industries need project managers as well. It might have more people involved, but is still is managed easily with off the shelf software.
Construction project management is completely different. Multiple projects, all going on at the same time have to be overseen by one person. Each project is basically the same, however each has their own difficulties and obstacles. There are hundreds of people involved in these projects and they have thousands of moving parts to keep track of. This also means that these projects are being done at several different locations. Some parts of the projects are done ahead of time, while some are done on the job site as the project moves along. Every single aspect of the project is the project manager’s responsibility.
A good project manager will be involved with everything, including: labor, payroll, accounting, job costs, inventory, materials, and safety issues. The actual project includes overseeing many subcontractors, dealing with change orders, data transmissions and more. The project manager’s number one priority is the end game. Making sure that the project is done on time and under budget, and it has excelled all client expectations. To say that they are a “Jack of all Trades” is an understatement.
With all of the advanced in technology, one would think that every company from large to small is staying on top of construction project management with software designed for that specific thing, but interestingly enough, that’s not the case. Many companies today are still using outdated software and doing 10 times more work than they need to do.
In a survey done by Capterra, a software solutions company, only fifty percent of construction project managers were using software that is specifically geared for that industry. The other companies cited Excel and email as the methods they were using to manage projects. Some admitted to using texting and handwritten checklists, which are riddled with human error.
Capterra also asked the participants in the survey, of those who were not using construction project management software, how much time were they spending on paperwork? An unbelievable 3-4 hours a day is being wasted pushing papers.
Darin Bailey is a project sponsor for Hunter Contracting, out of Gilbert, Arizona, and he said the mentality among project managers is still fairly old school. Most haven’t received proper training for the new technology and it seems like a big step to take. You here a lot of “this is the way we’ve always done it” among construction project managers. Bailey, however has welcomed the new technology and uses cutting edge software to help his project managers work on projects smoothly.
“Things are definitely better. Information, people—everything is more accessible, and available a lot quicker than it used to be,” Bailey said. “We are able to get up-to-the-minute information that helps us to be able to evaluate productions/cost. The trick is to know how to read the data and to know what to do with it so we can benefit from it.”
Even though there are still the technology hold-outs among project managers, many are ready to dive right in. These hard working individuals just don’t quite know where to start. It goes back to one step in front of the other until the company has adopted a compete software solution that automates all of the project managers tasks.