Construction projects, no matter the complexity and scope follow set phases: project initiation, planning and definition, execution and launch, performance, closing. Although it’s essential to know the stages and which milestones need to be reached, it’s even more important to know what challenges you might face and how to successfully overcome them. It’s true that the challenges faced by construction teams aren’t unique, but the pace, intensity, and complexity of projects can make them especially tough to manage. In this blog, we’re looking at various stages of the construction process from the perspective of challenges and most efficient response strategies.
Like with everything, a construction project always starts with an idea. Although it might seem simple, that is not the case as translating an idea into an actionable plan requires a lot of work and substantial input from a dedicated project team.
Evaluating the plan and conducting a feasibility test are also parts of this stage. You need to examine if the suggested solutions align with the project goals and determine how realistic the project itself is. These decisions are hard to make alone, so always consult your team to make sure that the final proposed solution is defined.
Once there’s no going back (i.e. the project gets the green light), don’t forget to create a Project Initiation Document (PID) that will serve as a blueprint and highlight the central purpose of the entire project.
Challenge: Project Goals
The main struggle for project managers at this stage is a lack of clearly defined project goals. When objectives are not well-defined, stakeholders and project managers will not have the same opinion about the direction of the project. This situation can result in an inefficient decision-making structure and poor task delegation processes because goals and objectives form the core of your project. Project managers can prevent this from happening by asking clients and contractors the right questions and ensuring everyone agrees on the goals from the beginning.
When you have the fundamental structure of project goals, it’s time to add actual development steps. While all stages are equally important for successful project completion, this step may be the most critical because it sets the foundation for the entire project. Now the project team should perform the following:
- Define the project
- Identify realistic timelines
- Bring to light the project’s scope from beginning to end
Budgeting also takes place at this stage. If a project team doesn’t dedicate enough time to estimate, outline, and approve the budget, chances are, the project will either take more time or may fail at a later stage.
The primary challenge of this stage is an unrealistic budget. We are all aware that going over budget is common in the construction industry, but it’s vital to set reasonable expectations regarding cost overruns and know how to adjust and manage them. That’s why ensuring that project deliverables are clearly identified is vital to manage the whole budget down the road. Besides, things like weather conditions, labour or material shortages should also be taken into consideration while drawing up the budget. Finally, keep in mind that the project’s budget should be constantly reviewed at later stages to stay on track and keep unplanned work and change requests under control.
When all preparatory stages are over, it’s time to start the most exciting and the longest stage of the project’s life cycle – implementation. To determine if your project implementation is successful, you can use this short checklist:
- Tracking systems are in place
- Resources are allocated properly
- Certain tasks are assigned to the right people
- Status meetings are held regularly
- Project plans are adjusted
- Schedule is updated
- Budget is followed
As the project is developing, remember to record any variations from the original plan. This will not only help you create more informative and detailed reports but also build on your expertise.
Challenge: Time Management
Missed deadlines, scheduling conflicts, and inconsistent communication can result in flawed designs, more accidents, and losses in revenue during this project stage. Besides, due to poor time management and misunderstandings, contractors might start cutting corners to make up time and cause more delays and higher project costs.
For these reasons, construction project managers should focus on tackling various factors that cause delays and building workflows that ensure project requirements are met. Effective time management involves monitoring subcontractors and material suppliers, adjusting to weather changes, and other tasks.
Monitoring project performance grows into a more demanding task once the project execution has begun. In this stage, the performance is measured to ensure that the project is running on schedule and within budget; that’s why information is vital to maintain project alignment.
Challenge: Data Flow and Communication
Construction projects are complex not only because they take several stages and a lot of time to develop but also due to the number of parties involved: the client, managers, designers, suppliers and subcontractors, engineers and architects. They all need to rely on the same data, ideally provided by the same source. Besides, multiple types of data must move through chosen communication channels: material prices, safety regulations and city standards, schedules and environmental concerns, and much more. Using project management software supported by more specific products, like visual documentation, is the best solution to keep the project running successfully. For example, with Multivista, all project stakeholders can receive real-time updates and stay in the loop regarding everything happening on site.
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The phase that the entire project has been leading to is the completion and hand-off. This is the stage where the client is presented with a completed construction project. Each aspect of the process must be finalized, from planning and budgeting to final touches and Owner Training Videos. After the final inspection, the client or the site owner must also approve the project to close the process. The last thing a project manager should do is examine the whole process to identify what went according to plan and what can be improved when the next project launches.
Although this stage is challenging in itself because it requires building multiple reports and can be stressful, the main challenge here is in issues that might arise later. If, in several months, it turns out that the wiring was installed incorrectly, you will want the ability to go back in time and see what happened and, more importantly, who is responsible for fixing the issue. Visual documentation is the solution that supports you even after the project is closed.
Of course, there are dozens of other challenges that can affect the deadlines and results, like skill gaps inside project teams, delayed cash flow, etc. However, being ready to take action to meet the challenges listed in this blog will reduce the number of unexpected problems. Contact us to share what life cycle stage is the most demanding for you, and we’ll come up with a solution together!