Project Management 101 is a comprehensive report that explains the function of project management within construction, and discusses its increasing importance. Here’s what you can expect from Construction World’s ‘Project Management 101’:
- What is meant by construction project management
- Modern project management strategies
- The industry’s best project management companies
- Project management tools and software
- Information on construction project management training through industry associations and educational institutions
Project Management 101: What is Project Management?
A project is an activity with a designated start and end time. It is not a routine operation and often involves a group of people who don’t normally work together, from different organizations, industries and locations. In order for these projects to go as smoothly as possible, the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques are necessary to carry out the activities needed.
What is Construction Project Management?
Within the construction industry, project management has become a necessary process. In comparison to other industries, construction – whether the creation of bridges, roads or buildings – requires an enormous amount of coordination and management between various teams. Construction project management also differs from the management of other types of projects because of its mission-oriented nature. A project will generally be terminated once the mission is completed. In terms of its practice, project management is the act of directing and coordinating human and material resources and using particular techniques to ensure the completion of a project is done efficiently and profitably.
Construction project management requires numerous skills like communication, organization, problem-solving and flexibility in order to be successful. In recent years, the project management industry has grown tremendously. The Project Management Institute (PMI) estimates that between 2010 and 2020, there will be 6.2 million project managers in the United States alone.
The greatest asset that project management brings construction companies is the ability to blend skills in construction, communication skills and the application of business principles. Project managers are often brought in to oversee a variety of activities, but primarily are utilized to produce the most functional and efficient projects, on time and on budget. Having a project manager present benefits the client, the entire jobsite and the construction company involved in a variety of ways. Here are some specific examples of how a project managers can make a positive impact:
- Be a representative for clients, and use their knowledge to make recommendations that are in the best interest of the owner(s).
- Oversee the entire project from the outset, including competitive bidding, value addition, contract negotation and reduction in completion time.
- Make business decisions to retain or eliminate specific teams or personnel based on productivity.
- Minimize errors and ensure quality of work by maintaining high standards through regular inspections.
- Resolve any conflicts between construction companies and clients, representing both sides fairly and equally.
- Develop realistic timelines and reliable budgets by coordinating with various teams.
In an article by Business News Daily, they discuss the various types of project management methodologies that are commonly practiced. Depending on the specific type of job, any given company or project manager may use a different method that best suit a particular project. Below is a list of some common construction project management strategies.
- Traditional Project Management: This is a step-by-step process that assesses a project based on 5 stages: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and completion. Each stage is done in chronological order, with stages only starting once the previous phase has finished. This traditional type of project management is suited for linear work, where little change is expected.
- Critical Path Method: This strategy is when each task is given a specific time frame before determining what resources are needed to carry out each task. This process is designed to accomplish projects in the least amount of time, in the most efficient manner as possible.
- Event Chain Methodology: With this method, it is best applied with tasks that initiate a chain of events. When each task is finished, a new event or task is created. Events are not always anticipated, which makes the role of project managers even more important. This strategy best works for projects that are not linear in nature.
- Agile: Agile project management is an approach where projects are divided into small sections called iterations. After each iteration, the team reviews and critiques the work done, and decides what the next steps for the project will be. This method is ideal for companies that can make quick decisions on their own, without needing approval from a board or committee.
- Scrum: This project management strategy is derived from the agile method where many small teams work in an interdependent manner. With scrum, iterations are done quickly and frequently with a high level of intensity.
There are a variety of ways to go about implementing a project management feature to any construction company. There are plenty of firms that provide construction project management services, and help businesses with the creation of buildings, roads, and any type of structure from start to finish. The services and capabilities of these companies are varied, but at its core, project management companies provide businesses with budgeting/ job costing, subcontract initiation/ tracking reporting and estimating.
Present in both private and public projects, construction management firms are approached based on their reputation within the industry, as well as their qualifications. Even prior to the design phase, a construction management company is required to help establish a budget and schedule that aligns with a client’s financial capabilities. In addition, project management companies take some pressure off of general contractors, by representing both the concerns of the client as well as the construction company. The best project management companies provide pre-construction services, and are known for a high level of accuracy prior to project bidding or the start of the actual construction. Also, project management companies must be directly involved with both builders and clients throughout the construction process, and after completion as well. Here is a list of the top project management companies based on revenue:
Project Management Tools
Along with partnering with a construction management firm, there are a growing number of project management tools that have risen in popularity. Whether through an app or software, construction companies are investing in a project management solution that is used internally to better manage each job. Some common project management tools include AtTask, Clarizen and Earliz, all of which are software-based. These particular software however are built for project management in all industries. For construction specifically, there are a number of project management tools that are also integrated with other functions of the business. Investing in an integrated software solves many issues that construction companies commonly face, in addition to addressing project management needs.
Project management software puts greater control into the hands of construction companies, reducing the amount of outsourced work that is often required. Project management is one feature of a much larger construction software, but is an integral piece to the puzzle. A complete construction software allows businesses to manage the entire life cycle of each project through an integrated and easily-accessible system. Some of the best project management tools helps with functions like job costing, estimating, scheduling labor, equipment management and document management. Here is a list of some of the top project management tools that the world’s best construction companies are turning to:
- Jonas Construction Software
Jonas Construction Software is a fully integrated construction software solution built specifically for the construction industry. Jonas Construction Software has 1,000+ customers throughout numerous construction industries, and is truly an industry-leading construction software solution. Their software solution contains over 50 modules, which include project management, service management, document management, and customer management, to name a few, which are all integrated with accounting. They also offer mobile solutions to further enhance accessibility and productivity in the field.
Procore is a cloud-based construction management software application designed to increase project efficiency and accountability by streamlining and mobilizing project communications and documentation. Procore allows its users to collaborate on projects and view various documents, including submittals, RFIs, contracts, schedules, and drawings. Being entirely web-based, their users are able to manage projects from any web-connected mobile device.
BuilderTREND is construction management software system designed for home builders and remodelers. Their web-based platform is accessible from anywhere and includes project scheduling, project management, customer management, and service management in a single suite. BuilderTREND easily integrates with other accounting software systems such as QuickBooks and Xero. BuilderTREND also offers unlimited training and support for their clients.
- Vista by Viewpoint Construction Software
Vista by Viewpoint is an integrated, collaborative suite of finance, operations and project management applications for contractors and capital project owners. Vista functionalities include accounting, project management, project collaboration, mobile, estimating, content management and service management, which easily integrates with all key third-party software. Vista by Viewpoint is scalable software built for today’s complex construction businesses.
- Sage 300 Construction Software
Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate is a construction management system offering functionalities such as takeoff, cost estimating, project management, document management, service management, service operations and accounting. With standard accounting modules such as accounts payable, general ledger, accounts receivable, and payroll processing, your business can easily manage finances on a daily basis. Sage 300 is designed for general contracting, real estate development, residential remodeling, and home building industries.
Construction Project Management Training
Construction project management training is arguably the most important piece to the success of construction companies and builders. Without the proper training and education, it is difficult to fill the growing number of project management jobs that are on the rise. Construction project management has evolved into a very credible and important part of the entire industry, with many colleges and universities offering a plethora of courses to better prepare students for a job in construction. Furthermore, construction management training can be done through a variety of associations, clubs and institutes. Below are some of the most reputable organizations for project managers, many of which are specific to the construction industry. Members of these groups benefit from networking events, training, educational courses and professional development opportunities, directly associated with project management.
The PMI is a non-for-profit professional membership association for project managers. The PMI delivers professional resources and valuable research to more than 2.9 million professionals working in nearly every country in the world. The goal of members is to enhance their careers, improve organizational success and further grow the profession. At PMI, members are granted access to:
- Certification programs
- Extensive academic research
- Educational programs
- Regional chapters
- Volunteer opportunities.
The CMAA is an non-profit professional association catering to the construction management industry. Through the CMAA, members are given access to a variety of services and resources that aim to improve personal performance, and enhances their capabilities. Some of the professional resources provided by the CMAA include:
- Model contracts, specific to various types of project delivery environments
- Conferences and professional networking opportunities
- Publications like the CMAdvisor
- Regional chapters to connect with other construction managers
- Professional liability insurance and other business service programs targeted at smaller firms
The ICPMA is a worldwide organization that promotes best practice in construction and project management to its members. The ICPMA provides a forum that offers members the chance to network with other professionals, and allows academics to engage in new business and research. The ICPMA is run by volunteers who are passionate about improving cities, infrastructure and the environment in an effective and efficient manner. The ICPMA provides members with:
- The ICPMA Knowledge Management Center
- Academic papers
- Practice reports
Construction project management training is also available in a wide variety of colleges and universities, in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Below are a list of schools that offer a degree in construction management, all of which provide a unique experience to its students.
Clemson University offers a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science or graduate certificate in construction management. The master’s degree offered in Clemson is recognized by both the national Center for Construction Education and Research, as well as Associated General Contractors of America.
University of Washington
The University of Washington also offers a degrees in construction management as a bachelor’s, masters or graduate degree. The department maintains an active relationship with the local industry through its Construction Industry Advisory Council and helps place students in internships.
University of Florida
The University of Florida offers a construction management degree in the College of Design, Construction and Planning (DCP). The school is also accredited by the American Council for Construction Education.
Western Illinois University
The Western Illinois University offers a bachelor’s degree in construction management, and offer hands on experiences such as construction labs, material labs, concrete testing and surveying activities.