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Construction Project Management on the Cutting Edge

Construction projects make up the core of the construction company, and the people working on those projects are the spirit of it. Construction project management is on the cutting edge and you want your company to keep up.

It is essential to bring people into your company that have a lot to offer. If you hire lazy, unmotivated people, your projects will turn out badly, if you hire ambitious, skilled talent, your projects will be outstanding. A company full of broad-minded, willing to learn and adventurous people and your whole company will succeed more than you ever thought possible.

The recession is over and the construction industry is prospering once again. There is so much work, not only can’t the construction companies keep up, there is a desperate need for workers. In December 2013, a Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that by 2022 the construction industry would face a 1.6 million skilled worker shortage.

There are many contributing factors to the short-fall of skilled workers in the construction trade. Many experienced, skilled workers took other positions during the recession and aren’t returning to the industry. Baby boomers are reaching retirement age and taking away a huge pool of experienced workers. Technical schools are not getting the attendance they once had, with graduates attending 4 year colleges instead.

Vice president and general manager at Scott Builders, Dallas Williams said, “It’s changed how we choose our construction teams.” Williams has worked on many of his company’s projects and the lead project manager and also stated, “Right now, it’s based on price and it should be based on value, experience and reputation.”

Championing Collaboration

It is the nature of the business, that project managers don’t get to decide who will be working on their team. Thousands of different team members, working under hundreds of different sub-contractors, will work under dozens of project managers in a mid-size company each year. Because of the multiple layers of workers, the company is constantly changing who works where, when.

While this type of tiered set up is necessary, it has it’s downfalls. Project managers often have no idea who is working on their project. They have no idea what kind of person they are, what kind of worker they are, if they are trained or certified in any way, or if they even have the right kind of insurance to be on that particular job. It is the project managers job, however to make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them and what the goal of the project is.

A Hunter Contracting Project Sponsor, Darin Bailey, stated that, “We start each activity with a pre-activity meeting that discusses all aspects of that scope of work, including budget .We talk about crew size, productions, safety, and more, and we make sure the foreman or superintendent is on board with knowing what the expectations are. It makes it easier to follow up during the construction process to discuss how things are going. My most successful projects involve sharing as much information as possible.”

Bailey said although he makes all the final decisions he encourages all team members be involved in giving idea and feedback. he feels that not only does it make his job easier, the project is enhanced by the whole team being involved.

Team Powered Workforce

Technology in the construction industry is helping in the “team-effort” approach. Some of the aspects of the cutting edge technology that is helping the cooperative type of management are:

Team Worker Management Software – There are fantastic software platforms that make the process of looking for, hiring, training, and retaining skilled workers seamless and simple. All human resources processes are put together in one place instead of using multiple entries into multiple solutions, creating confusion and often mistakes. This type of software involves the workers themselves, leaving contractors the time they to keep the project going. All team members are kept in the loop which makes for a smoother process.

Online Planning Stage – The new technology available to the construction industry has not only helped during the project, but before it as well. Online plan rooms have made it easy to share digital plans and specs to whoever needs to see them. Changes are easily made online, instead of running back and forth between offices. This creates a strong creative effort into the project, and changes can be made at any time during the project, by anyone associated with the project.

Specialized Project Management Software for Construction – Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software packages include all areas of the construction industry and the construction project. Because it’s specifically designed for the construction industry, it improves collaboration and keeps the projects moving smoothly. ERP software is able to keep track of all data related to the project, whether it’s on the job site, or in the office. The platform allows for all of the data to be shared with all departments, therefore the whole team is working on and looking at the same things at the same time.

Solutions That Work in the Cloud – The construction industry is a mobile one and technology has made mobility even easier. Software packages that are truly cloud-based allows field workers to enter data, time sheets, equipment information, material information, etc., on the spot. All other team members who are working on that project from accounting to the CEO is able to see that information in real-time. Literally, everyone working on the project can see the information that they need/want to see, from an employee’s time card or W2 form, to reports that the financial backers get. Working online gives the team members to enter data wherever they are. If there is no internet available, considering where some construction is done – this can be an issue, the information is saved and syncs as soon as the mobile device is in range of any internet access.

Video conferencing programs – Technological advances such as Skype and GoToMeetings, everyone involved on a project can meet together no matter where they are. Instead of just talking on a phone, they can see each other and view pertinent information together at the same time. This saves a lot of project time because question can be answered immediately and problems resolved quickly. Mobile devices can also be used for these type of meetings which means contractors can stay out in the field more, and not be running around to attend meetings, which means the project will move along faster and smoother.

The construction industry has always benefited from a combined effort of all the team members involved in a project. Cutting edge technology is making it easier to do, with a higher caliber of information being shared among all those involved.

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