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Construction Project Management: A Handbook for Digital Leaders

Engineering Procurement and Construction

Construction Project Management – An Overview

Nations’ economic development and rising living standards of people are driving changes in the EPC industry. Further, rapid advancement in construction technology, digital solutions like Computer simulations, Computer-aided drawing (CAD), and skilled manpower – are all transforming the construction landscape.

The construction industry deals with projects spanning agricultural, residential, commercial, institutional, industrial, engineering, civil, or environmental applications. Construction projects in the 21st century are, therefore, large, complex, challenging, and with bigger capital outlay.

The construction industry is a complex field involving multiple stakeholders and demands a multi-disciplinary skillset encompassing architecture, engineering inventory, management, Information technology, amongst others. Construction project management (CPM) requires knowledge in several other allied areas spanning city planning, public works, finance, conflict resolution, mediation, law, and business, among many others.

Construction project management involves directing and organizing every component of the construction project life cycle, from ideation to completion.

Due to its very nature, Construction project management can most often involve managing multiple tasks at different construction phases–tasks that can shift or change at short notice. This requires the Project Manager and the team, to have profound knowledge of the building process, strong skills in communication, and the ability to problem-solve on the move.

Stages of Construction Project Management:

Project Management typically involves splitting into several manageable phases, to reach the project goals effectively and efficiently. There are 5 stages of construction project management, which the project manager has to manage to reach the project goal.

1. Planning and development :

One of the most important aspects of construction project management, and involves carrying out a feasibility study, developing a project management plan, before project approval.

2. Design :

The design stage comprises 4 parts: Conceptual framework-project size, rooms, and spaces; Schematics – Floor plan, Elevations, and a site plan; Design development-drawings, building codes, materials; construction documents-final blueprints, specifications, & contract papers

3. Pre-construction :

Involves assigning a Project Manager, hiring decisions on other personnel, and worksite inspection – ensuring everything is ready for commencing construction.

4. Procurement :

Initiating purchase of materials and equipment – sourcing from local/regional/global markets, ordering, transportation, scheduling, and purchase documentation.

5. Construction :

Final re-confirmation on work hours, storage of materials, quality control, and worksite access, leading to construction commencing. Progress is regularly monitored, any unforeseen problems are resolved- ensuring the project is as per the project plan.

5 Critical Challenges in Construction Lifecycle:

All projects irrespective of their nature, scope, and size have to factor in challenges that are likely to impact their goal, timelines. Backup plans have accordingly to be made to deal with them as efficiently as possible. Some of the common challenges faced during the life of a construction project life cycle are:

a) Lack of real-time data for risk assessment and change management :

Sharing data across your team doesn’t matter if the information is out of date. Construction projects are typically works-in-progress, so one would need real-time data to deal with new developments and address challenges as they come up. These days Cloud-based construction project management software help provide optimal solutions to dealing with such data analysis, including easy-to-use dashboards, the latest progress reports, and tools, to depict workflows and observe impacts of decisions made.

b) Communication and Document Management :

Ensuring lines of communication between everyone on a construction project is paramount. The document management system should facilitate reliable access to a repository of all project documents. Poor communication and an inefficient document management system can result in avoidable interruptions, cost overruns, and conflicts. Today’s project managers can leverage ‘Engineering Procurement and Construction’tools, which can make a critical difference, centralizing information and communication on a single platform, which would streamline communication across all internal parties and other stakeholders.

c) Incomplete Visibility- Drain On-Time, Resources, and Energy :

All construction phases and their processes must have absolute clarity and be visible to all parties involved. Lack of required clarity and visibility of workflow process will lead to repetitive process or inefficient re-routing of work, resulting ultimately in avoidable wastage of time, expensive cost overruns. Industrial Management Softwaretools are available today, which can be deployed to address this challenge effectively.

d) Siloed data :

Large construction projects involve large data that has to be streamlined and managed well. Data silos can adversely impact cost control, risk assessment, and project timeline. When data is hard to access, the project is vulnerable to miscommunication affecting progress. Industrial Management Software can provide data management solutions, help break down data silos, centralize and integrate all relevant information, for easy access by team members. HR & Payroll Software can help manage large workforce-related data.

e) Estimation :

Estimating costs, resources required, timeline, and costs are very important in construction. Notwithstanding its complexity, even a minor error in estimation can lead to significant losses, considering the timelines and tight margins in the construction industry.Forecasting tools built into CPM digital solutions like cloud-based construction project management software, help estimate as accurately as possible while factoring in variables like material shortages, price fluctuations.

Evolution of Construction Project Management Over the last 2 Decades:

Construction Management has evolved over the ages. Be it the Pyramids of Gaza, the great wall of China, or the Tajmahal – they all have involved a large workforce, demanding timelines and substantial costs, before they saw the light of the day. All of these world marvels have seen some aspects of management being followed- like people supervising, monitoring work processes, coordinating, etc.

The study of these ancient monuments and the onset of the industrial revolution in the 1900s revealed that they all had to contend with challenges like communication gaps, inefficient processes, hiring issues, etc.

Management concepts and tools like Gantt Chart, Critical Path Method (CPM) in the mid-1900s revolutionized management across industries. Industries and Building Construction in the 21st century have to contend with contemporary challenges besides regulatory codes and norms. Like in other industrial sectors, construction project management should have access to Software and Technological tools like Cloud-based construction project management software, which facilitates Construction companies and their project managers to efficiently manage and deliver large projects.

Technology as an Enabler to Transform Complex Construction Processes:

Digital Technology in the EPC industry has rapidly evolved over the last century, especially during the last 2 decades. The hardware (equipment & machinery) available today has transformed this labor-intensive sector, bringing in unimaginable speed and efficiencies. Likewise, today’s project managers have access to a range of management tools and digital solutions for the construction industry, that can bring paradigm change to their thinking and management of construction work processes. They bring qualitative changes to the areas of:

  • Building Information Management
  • Document control and management
  • Better connectivity and Collaboration between work sites
  • Asset tracking

These digital tools help address and automate complex construction processes, such as data, worksite management, cost control, project management, etc, driving better project outcomes and improved business profits.

How CEMBS can help?

CEMBS, a certified Microsoft Dynamic 365 partner has successfully implemented custom digital solutions for the construction industry covering end-to-end processes used in EPC vertical. Some of the solutions provided by CEMBS are

  1. Automation of On-site & Off-Site processes
  2. HR & Payroll Software
  3. Daily Log & Attendance software
  4. Construction Management Software ERP

Wish to grow your construction business with new-age technology – Talk to CEM Business Solutions