What is Construction Project Management?
The Project Management Institute defines project management as “the art of directing and coordinating human and material resources throughout the life of a project by using modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time, quality and participation satisfaction.”
Construction management demands an understanding of the construction and design process as well as knowledge of modern business management. The construction project has a finite time frame and an outcome-oriented planning process for project completion with very specific objectives.
A successful project must start with a clear justification and definition of the project; proceed according to a detailed strategic plan, and deliver demonstrable outcomes. Certain elements in the strategic planning process will differ from project to project, such as the size, scope and location, but as a rule, project management for construction has much in common with other project types.
The Project Manager
The most important person on a project is the manager, who is ultimately responsible for the success of the project. The construction project manager (CPM) plans, organizes and controls every detail of the project and must have knowledge of general management as well as specialized background in the particular nature of the project. Formal project management training is also of great value to the project.
There are certain objectives in construction project management that must be clearly defined during the strategic planning process. These may change throughout the course depending on any resource constraints or other potential conflicts.
- Create a communication system to keep all stakeholders and team members informed throughout the project
- Maximize resources by procuring materials, labor and equipment in keeping with the project’s stated schedule and plan
- Clearly state scope, budget, schedule, performance standards and means of selecting stakeholders and other participants
- Implement project tasks by properly coordinating and controlling every possible element of the project
Strategic Planning and Organizing Tasks
The strategic plan of most construction projects depends on the market demands and available resources. This process sets the priorities and schedule for the tasks necessary to complete the operation’s objectives.
- During the planning process, the project may be organized in a variety of ways. They may be a combination of the following:
- Sequential, in which the project is separated into stages completely in a consecutive sequence of tasks.
- Parallel, in which the project contains independent portions that happen simultaneously.
- Staggered, in which the different tasks may overlap each other.
Key Elements in Project Planning
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI®) there are nine specific areas that require a project manager’s attention and should be incorporated into the strategic plan:
- Integration, to ensure that the various project elements are effectively coordinated.
- Scope, to ensure that all the work required (and only the required work) is included.
- Time, to provide an effective project schedule.
- Cost, to identify needed resources and maintain budget control.
- Quality, to ensure functional requirements are met.
- Human resources, to effectively employ project personnel.
- Communications, to ensure effective internal and external communications.
- Risk, to analyze and mitigate potential risks.
- Procurement, to obtain necessary resources from external sources.
Construction project management is extremely challenging and complex. To do it well, the project manager must possess excellent communication and planning skills, and be able to discuss planning and strategies with the stakeholders. There are many tasks, stages, and procedures, all of which may change during the project.
Extensive strategic planning, solid leadership, a well-defined scope, a responsive team of stakeholders, and healthy work relationships all contribute to project success.