Project Management Guide
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How to Manage a Construction Project

As with project management in any industry, project management in construction aims to deliver a final product that is on time, on budget, and meets or exceeds stakeholder expectations. In order to do that, a construction project manager must be exceptionally organized, with acute attention to detail.

Since construction projects are very complicated with many moving pieces, the CM must be incredibly resourceful and excel at managing risk and thinking on their feet. The CM is also the liaison between all the stakeholders, which requires excellent communication skills and the ability to inspire and motivate as the de facto leader of the project. The Construction Management Association of America identified roughly 120 tasks that CMs will oversee, breaking down these steps into the following categories:

  • Project management
  • Cost management
  • Time management
  • Quality management
  • Contract administration
  • Safety management

Each category then has five stages that a CM will manage:

  • Pre-design
  • Design
  • Procurement
  • Construction
  • Post-construction

Tips for managing construction projects

There are some tried-and-true tips for success as a CM. A few of the most common include:

  • Speak clearly and often: If there’s one thing that the experts agree on, it’s that good communication is critical to the success of any building project. Come up with a plan for how and when to discuss the project’s status with each stakeholder. Develop good, friendly working relationships. Meetings are key, and delivering any “bad news” early — with a plan for solving the problem and preventing it from recurring — is also recommended.
  • Plan ahead: This may go without saying, but take the time to map out every task you can think of at each stage of the project, including potential pitfalls. This will make everything go more smoothly and quickly.
  • Lead: It’s critical to get and maintain the buy-in not just of the project owners but of all the people working to bring it to fruition. Having people on board is key to ensuring you stick to the budget and timeline. Work on your leadership skills, and, above all, be humble. It takes a village to build.
  • Stay up to date: Technology is always changing — when it comes to both project management and construction itself. Make sure you study up on the latest technologies and trends to ensure you produce the best result.
  • Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate: Now’s the time to put your persuasiveness to the test. You’ll be in the position of negotiating with nearly everyone involved in the project, from customers, subcontractors, and vendors to members of your team. Brush up on Negotiation 101 to make sure you get the best outcomes.
  • Be open-minded: One CM wrote that “if you aren’t learning new means, methods, practices, then you are stagnant and not growing. Teach others around you so they can learn.”

Further reading: