What is Construction Management?

BuildSuite
May 18, 2023
5 min read

Ever wondered what construction management is all about? Our new article breaks it down in simple terms, so you can understand this important field. Learn how construction management shapes successful projects and why it's so crucial.

Construction management plays a crucial role in the successful execution of construction projects, ensuring that every aspect is meticulously planned, organized, and executed. It encompasses a wide range of responsibilities and requires expertise in areas such as finance, mediation, law, business, and more. Construction managers serve as the guiding force that keeps projects on track, delivering quality outcomes from small residential builds to large-scale infrastructure projects.

Construction management, as defined by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), is a professional service that focuses on effectively managing various aspects of a construction project. This includes overseeing the project's schedule, cost, quality, safety, scope, and function. It is a versatile approach that can be applied to projects utilizing different delivery methods. Regardless of the project setting, the primary responsibility of a Construction Manager (CM) is to serve the owner and ensure the success of the project.

In a typical capital project, there are three main parties involved:

1. The owner

2. The architect/engineer

3. The general contractor

The CM represents the owner's interests and provides comprehensive oversight of the entire project directly for the owner. Their role involves working collaboratively with all stakeholders to ensure timely completion, adherence to the budget, and achieving the owner's expectations in terms of quality, scope, and function.

Construction Managers (CMs) bring knowledge and experience to projects. They collaborate with stakeholders to determine optimal sequences, develop schedules and budgets, and manage safety and risks. Using advanced techniques, CMs make informed decisions, ensuring successful outcomes aligned with objectives. Construction management coordinates and controls activities throughout the project lifecycle, overseeing progress, timelines, budgets, and quality standards. CMs serve as the central point of communication among stakeholders, ensuring effective project management.

Key Principles of Construction Management:

  1. Project Planning and Scheduling: Thorough planning and scheduling are essential to ensure the project progresses smoothly. This involves creating a detailed project plan, setting realistic timelines, and allocating resources effectively.
  2. Cost Management: Construction managers must monitor project costs, establish budgets, track expenses, and identify cost-saving opportunities to ensure the project remains financially viable.
  3. Quality Control: Maintaining high-quality standards is crucial in construction. Construction managers implement quality control processes, conduct inspections, and collaborate with subcontractors and suppliers to deliver superior workmanship.
  4. Risk Management: Construction projects are inherently prone to risks, such as weather disruptions, material shortages, or design changes. Effective risk management involves identifying potential risks, developing mitigation strategies, and having contingency plans in place.
  5. Communication and Collaboration: Clear and constant communication among team members, stakeholders, and subcontractors is vital for project success. Construction managers facilitate effective collaboration, ensure information flow, and resolve conflicts to keep everyone aligned with project objectives.

Skills Required for Construction Management:

Construction management is a multifaceted discipline that requires a diverse skill set to navigate the complexities of the construction industry. Here are some key skills that are essential for construction management professionals to excel in their roles:

  1. Leadership: Construction managers must possess strong leadership skills to inspire and motivate teams, manage conflicts, and drive the project towards success.
  2. Technical Expertise: A sound understanding of construction techniques, building codes, and industry regulations is necessary for effective decision-making and problem-solving.
  3. Communication: Excellent verbal and written communication skills enable construction managers to convey project requirements, negotiate contracts, and maintain effective relationships with stakeholders.
  4. Organization and Time Management: Managing multiple tasks, coordinating resources, and meeting project deadlines demand exceptional organizational and time management skills.
  5. Financial Acumen: Construction managers should have a solid grasp of budgeting, cost estimation, and financial analysis to ensure projects are financially sustainable.

Stages of Construction Management

According to the esteemed Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) by the Project Management Institute, construction management encompasses a series of distinctive stages that lay the groundwork for a successful construction project. Let's delve into these stages and unravel their significance:

1.Initiation:

The initiation stage marks the beginning of a project, where the initial idea is transformed into a well-defined strategy with achievable objectives. Careful consideration is given to ensure realistic timelines for accomplishing the project objectives.

During this stage, research is conducted to identify and procure the necessary resources. The project idea is presented to the board members, outlining the business opportunity. A project charter is created to document project details, including financial aspects, the appointment of a project manager, and the project's duration. Key stakeholders are assigned appropriate roles and responsibilities within the project.

Effective communication among the project designer, project manager, and stakeholders plays a crucial role in enhancing stakeholders' understanding of the project and resolving any challenges that may arise. Efficient management of contract documents, design schematics, and feasibility studies are essential aspects of the project design process.

2. Planning

The planning phase of construction management is a critical stage where meticulous attention is given to every detail of the project. It involves creating a comprehensive roadmap, developing work schedules, and conducting regular meetings to discuss project execution and progress.

During this phase, potential setbacks to the project are identified, and solutions are devised proactively. Quality testing systems are implemented on the project site to ensure the project's high standards. Other key steps in the planning stage include project scheduling, assessing site conditions for unexpected situations, procuring materials, selecting appropriate construction project management software, and assembling a skilled project team.

The construction project team consists of various professionals such as masons, housekeeping staff, plumbers, carpenters, painters, logistics workers, safety officers, storekeepers, electricians, foremen, and construction expeditors, all led by a job supervisor.

3. Execution

Once the planning phase is completed, the focus shifts to executing the plans on the ground. This stage requires significant effort to ensure that the project progresses according to the established plan.

Effective communication and coordination with the project team are crucial during execution. The project manager serves as a vital link between the workers and the planning commission, facilitating smooth operations. Prioritizing risk assessment before executing the plans helps minimize mistakes and unforeseen problems, and in case issues arise, the risk assessment team provides immediate solutions.

Simultaneous on-ground construction work often leads to dependencies, where one team must wait for another to complete their activities. This can result in time and resource wastage, increased project expenses, or delays in completion. Proper scheduling is essential to avoid such setbacks, ensuring efficient utilization of resources and timely progress.

During the execution phase, constant monitoring, quality control measures, and effective communication among the project team and stakeholders are critical to maintaining project momentum and achieving the desired outcomes.

4. Monitoring and Control

In the monitoring and control stage, close supervision and oversight are essential to ensure effective project execution. This stage runs in parallel with the execution stage to promptly address any issues or deviations from the plan.

Monitoring and control play a crucial role in construction projects due to the potential high costs associated with mistakes or errors. Addressing issues in a timely manner is critical as construction errors are often difficult to rectify once they occur.

By monitoring the project's progress, construction managers can stay on track with the proposed schedule and prevent additional costs. It also allows for accurate project tracking and documentation, which can be valuable for future reference and learnings in subsequent projects.

5. Closure

The closure stage marks the final phase of a construction project. During this stage, the project manager ensures the successful completion and delivery of the project to the owner. Key activities in this stage include final inspections, client walkthroughs, obtaining necessary approvals and certifications, and smoothly transitioning the project to the client or end-user.

In addition to the administrative tasks, the closure stage involves documenting valuable lessons learned from the project and conducting post-project evaluations. These activities contribute to continuous improvement and provide insights for future projects. Clearing final bills, terminating contracts with hired companies or personnel, and preparing closeout documents such as manuals and warranties are also essential components of this stage.

Once all tasks are completed, a comprehensive project review is conducted, discussing the challenges faced and the overall project experience. Ultimately, the project is officially handed over to the owner, concluding the construction process.

Understanding these pivotal stages illuminates the intricacies of construction management, showcasing its pivotal role in ensuring project success, effective resource allocation, and the seamless realization of the client's vision.

The Impact of Technology:

The integration of technology has brought significant advancements to the field of construction management. Construction management software and AI-powered platforms, like BuildSuite, empower construction managers with robust features such as real-time project tracking, automated reporting, resource optimization, and data-driven insights. These tools enhance collaboration, streamline workflows, and facilitate better decision-making, ultimately leading to improved project outcomes.


Conclusion:

Construction management is a multifaceted discipline that plays a critical role in the successful completion of construction projects. By employing effective planning, budgeting, risk management, and communication strategies, construction managers can drive projects towards success. BuildSuite, an AI-powered platform empowers construction managers with the tools and capabilities to streamline workflows, optimize operations, and lead projects to fruition. With the right skills, knowledge, and support, construction managers can shape the future of the industry, delivering exceptional results and contributing to the growth and development of the construction landscape.

BuildSuite
May 18, 2023
5 min read