As a project manager, if there is one thing you should know for certain, nothing is actually certain. Facing a wide array of changes and unforeseen variables naturally comes when working in this type of industry. However, probably one of the biggest challenges you’re going to face as a construction project manager is being thrown into a particular project that is already underway.
Hence, asking the right questions is the beginning of your effort to redeem control over the site progress and build value-adding and reliable workflows. If you are now ready to take the next step and place construction planning at the core of your projects, we invite you to read this blog and learn more. Here are some of the most critical questions you need to ask yourself when starting a new project.
1. Have I incorporated zoning into my planning?
One of the most common but critical mistakes made by Project Managers, particularly in construction projects that come with tons of repetition, is flop to integrate zoning into their construction planning. For instance, imagine managing a complex commercial project where multiple separate and duplicate units have to be built or currently handling a large hospital project.
Either way, there can be a series of conditions or specifications that you need to satisfy and a set of tasks that you should complete for every room or unit. Yet, you cannot work on every single thing at once. Additionally, your subs have to access every zone at a specific time and then move forward to the next unit so that the next stakeholders can do the job. Obviously, it has a lot of moving parts.
So to make everything happens accordingly while avoiding chaos, try to do the following:
- Combine zoning with short-term construction planning – make sure to share the latest updates and progress with your subs in a sharable and live platform in the cloud-like construction scheduling software.
- Overcome delays and inefficient workflows – the projects may be at risk when there are delays or when the collaborators lose sight of where the construction project stands.
2. Have I clearly defined to my construction team when a specific task is considered “done”?
Waiting for your crew members or other subs to complete their designated tasks is commonly one of the significant reasons behind downtime and delays in the project. As a project manager, how can you prevent that? You can avoid that by simply defining it with your construction team regarding the notion of “work done” to start the next activity.
Having a standardized, clear set of practices and rules regarding when the task must be considered closed is the primary key to aligning the expectations of all crew members and preventing mistakes. Consider also to answer two critical questions as follows:
- When must a handover be considered as successful?
- And when is the right time for the next material order to reach onsite and where?
These questions may sound simple. However, those questions can be the reason for downtime, delays, and even commercial claims that place your margins at serious risk on a construction site. That is why it is important for project managers and everybody involved to have a central and single view of construction planning.
Suppose your team keeps holding information in disconnected formats (Spreadsheets, PDFs, printouts). In that case, they will soon get dragged into a game of firefighting without any prior knowledge of whether what they’re doing really helps or not.
So knowing when a particular task should be labeled as “DONE” and updating its completion to the involved parties can make a huge difference. As a PM, give your team a collaborative environment and the best way to achieve it is thru adopting a subcontractor scheduling software.
3. Have I focused enough on preparation?
The lack of focus, especially on the preparation of a certain project, is another aspect where there can be tons for improvement for a project manager like you. Yet the only exception to this can be external events like bad weather. However, preparation must not begin and end there. Note that most of the projects that typically emerge onsite can be fixed through preparation and anticipation around delivery, drawings, orders, choices, and planning of the current workforce.
Typically, we see that issues arise if work on site has not been thought through preparation work. And relevant parties have been realized too late, leading to mistakes and last-minute work.
For example, it can be that you are running late on the project since prefab elements arrive onsite too late. If that is the case, you have to gather all the involved parties (suppliers, engineers, etc.) and look for the root cause and solutions to the issue so that it will not happen again. This is how you can ensure a practical approach in project preparation and constraint resolution so that any unforeseen events are not synonymous with a disaster.
4. Do I have a stronger culture around construction planning?
One of your primary responsibilities as a project manager is making and maintaining a regular cycle to the projects. And to make that happen, you must plan ahead and deliberately schedule tasks in manageable chunks. In a recent survey, if you manage to deliver small functions by at least eighty percent on schedule without affecting quality, you will most quality deliver on budget and on time.
Hence, instead of focusing only on your target milestones to hit or trying to schedule everything in full detail from start to finish, plant short-term and begin relying on constantly updated three to six-week look heads. A great way to start this approach is by simply connecting your construction team around a central hub like Pro Crew Schedule.
This specialized software can keep everyone involved facing the same direction and maintain that good pace while the project is ongoing.
5. Are my tools tailored explicitly for construction?
This question is a million-dollar question, especially if you want to boost productivity in your construction projects and ensure the successful completion of these projects. A project manager like you often believes that the tools you and your team are using are suitable for their purpose. Have you wondered if these tools are made to collaborate with other departments or teams? Be mindful because, in many cases, the truth is way different.
While using tools like MS Project, email, excel spreadsheets, and MS project is fine, note that these tools are not built for any construction teams. In fact, these tools are excellent for other purposes, but they cannot offer you and your team site visibility. And more analytically:
- They never provide an onsite, sharable, and open access view of the project.
- The data gathered through them often lack connection to the schedule. This makes it harder for everyone to see what tasks are progressing, who owns and access to what, and what’s coming next.
- Information is already being dispersed on various platforms hindering the reporting process.
- They do not enable collaboration between external and internal stakeholders, leading to a more challenging connection on all teams.
It rapidly becomes clearer that using the wrong tools can impact your three to six weeks of lookaheads or project goals. That is why you have to deploy the right tools like project management software to give your teams real-time insights into the project.
6. What is the Benchmark for success?
This is one important question every project manager has to ask at the beginning of the project. The goal may seem straightforward. Dig deeper. Do not be afraid to ask your clients and stakeholders what they wanted to achieve with the work.
Get your clients to be more open with you about why they are embarking on these projects. Keep the goal at the forefront of the discussions. Realizing what success will look like can help your construction team stay more focused throughout the project’s entire lifespan.
Why Do Project Managers Have to Use Project Management Software?
A specialized project management tool’s primary purpose is to assist Project Managers as they zip through different project phases.
As a project manager, you may find yourself creating a project plan as it is deemed necessary. And you’re going to define the “When” and “Who” apart from knowing the “How and “What”. Defining all of these questions goes hand in hand with specialized software like Pro Crew Schedule.
Pro Crew Schedule round up your plans, directs all of it and gives you a detailed overview of your project’s overall progress. It consolidates all of the project data in a single collaborative platform, where you can prioritize tasks, determine dependencies, manage resources, and identify bottlenecks and solve them.
Here’s a walkthrough of each advantage of the Pro Crew Schedule:
- Effortless project planning
- Real-time communication
- Balance resource management
- Improved internal and external communication
- Project Management in construction
- Accessible anytime and anywhere
From start to finish, a construction project requires effort, time, and skill from all team members, especially from project managers. Hence, Project managers ensure everybody hits the ground running when they prioritize the most important things and come prepared with the questions mentioned above.