Helping construction project managers face challenges specific to their industry
Every project will face challenges at some point in its life cycle, and construction projects are no different. In fact, the challenges faced by construction project managers can be more significant than most, as construction projects tend to be inherently complex and dynamic, with large budgets and serious implications for failure to deliver.
While it’s not realistic to expect every project to run like clockwork, the most important approach for construction project managers is to identify challenges when they occur and to have a playbook of solutions to fall back on. Seeing challenges coming down the line and planning for them can be the deciding factor between project failure and success. So what are some common challenges faced in construction project management?
Poor risk management
Identifying, analyzing, and mitigating risk is a fundamental part of project management. Without a risk management strategy, it’s easy for ‘unforeseen’ events to cause delays to the schedule, costs to spiral, or deadlines to be missed. This is particularly damaging for large infrastructure construction projects where budgets are high, and the deliverable is a public-facing service such as a utility or transport system.
Performing project Risk Analysis at the earliest possible point in the project can help avoid potential pitfalls. Identifying and categorizing risks is the first important step, but having a risk management plan to deal with those risks is also fundamental. Be clear about whether you are choosing risk avoidance, risk transfer, risk mitigation, or risk acceptance for each of your identified risks. As the Project Management Institute says- ‘the term “risk management” itself tends to be misleading because management implies control of events. On the contrary, risk management must be seen as preparation for possible events in advance, rather than responding as they happen’.
The key here is foresight and making sure that your key stakeholders and partners are comfortable with the level of risk that remains.
Any business thrives on good communication, and this is true of construction projects as well. The implications of poor communication for construction project managers can be many and varied, for example:
- Slippages in delivery
- Mistakes in the construction process
- Staff who do not feel fully engaged in project delivery
To avoid these challenges, it’s vital to draw up a detailed communications plan from the start and then stick to it. Set key milestones, communicate these widely, and agree on a reporting schedule that suits your stakeholders’ requirements while providing internal value to your delivery team. Good communication means that everyone involved in the project is clear on expected goals, milestones, and deliverables.
A good project management software solution can greatly facilitate communications, so consider your capabilities in this regard. Software that gives visibility of deliverables and deadlines keeps everyone on the same page and allows project managers to gain oversight of large programs of work.
The success of any project relies on having well-qualified staff in the right roles at the right time. However, it doesn’t always make economic sense for many companies to recruit an expert in every field, just in case they’re needed at some point. Instead, this is where staff augmentation can come in.
Staff augmentation is a way of bringing in staff with a specific skill set for a defined period of time, to achieve very targeted results. It allows access to expert staff without the recruitment and training costs, for something that can be quite a short-term need. The benefits of staff augmentation are well-documented, and it’s an approach that should be on the list of options for all construction project managers.
Dealing with these challenges leads to construction project success
The challenges faced by construction project managers are made particularly significant due to the size and complexity of many of the programs of work for which they are responsible. However, with some forward planning and some expert help, it’s possible to find solutions to these challenges and take a big step towards delivery success.
If you’re a project manager in the construction field and would appreciate a conversation about help with any aspect of project controls, risk management, data services or staff augmentation, then contact us to arrange a chat with our knowledgeable, experienced team.