Mastering the Build: A Guide to the Project Management Process in Construction

Construction project management isn’t for the faint of heart. Not only do project managers juggle project schedules and budgets, but they also synchronize the inner workings and processes to help project teams stay on track. 

Even seemingly minor factors can wreak havoc on a project’s success. That’s why clearly defined processes and communication channels are essential in building and construction management. 

Understanding project management in building and construction

From establishing project milestones to organizing the execution phase to ensuring timely delivery, project management involves all aspects of a construction project. It’s the meticulous planning, coordination, and oversight that hold a project together. 

Since construction is often unpredictable, teams should always optimize their project management processes. Weather, material shortages, and design changes can unexpectedly throw a project plan off course. But when you have the right processes and channels in place, project teams can pivot as needed without impacting the timeline or budget. 

Risk management is another major reason project management is critical. According to a KPMG survey, 37% of respondents reported missing budget or schedule targets by 20% or more due to poor risk management. 

Project management helps prevent, mitigate, and manage risks in the construction process. This can include both safety risks and financial risks that impact a project’s feasibility.

The roles involved in the construction project management process

There are a few standard roles you’ll find on every construction project, each with a distinct contribution to the project management process. 

  • The client or project owner: For obvious reasons, the client or project owner is the most important player on the construction project team. They handle project initiation, drive the vision, and stay actively involved throughout the project lifecycle. When the project needs budget approvals, scope modifications, or funding, the client steps in to keep the project moving. 
  • The project manager: The project manager oversees the project from start to finish. They’re responsible for planning, scheduling, and monitoring to make sure it’s completed on time and within budget. They also manage communication between all project team members.
  • The design team: Depending on the project, a design team may include many design professionals: design architects, various engineers, landscape architects, and more. All are responsible for conceptualizing and detailing the architectural and engineering aspects of the project. 
  • The construction team: Like the design team, the construction team plays a hands-on role in bringing the project to life, from the groundwork to the finishing touches. Construction team members may include the construction superintendent, the general foreperson, the site clerk, the trade foreperson, and project contractors or subcontractors. 

The stages of the construction project management process

Once you assemble your team, it’s time for work to begin. Depending on the size of the project, the process could take anywhere from days to years to complete. But most construction projects, no matter their size, follow these stages: 

Bidding and estimating

During this phase, construction companies and their clients exchange bids. After reviewing the bid documents and project scope, companies estimate project costs, including labor and materials, and submit a proposal for the project. 

Cost estimation plays a pivotal role in this phase of the project. It’s also foundational for the other project phases. Estimating helps determine a project’s feasibility and guides contractors on whether or not to bid on a project. 

So accurate estimates are essential for predicting profit margins and allowing contractors to submit the most accurate bids for a project. 

Pre-construction

Before construction can begin, the right plans, teams, and permits must be in place. Pre-construction consists of developing a plan for the project, creating the design, securing the permits and approvals, and gathering necessary resources. 

The construction procurement process is a big job as it involves lining up all of the supplies, crews, and equipment to complete the job. 

Active construction

Once crews break ground on the project, mobilization and active construction begin. Project teams execute the plans developed during the pre-construction phase. 

Builders turn blueprints into reality, managing supplies and overseeing the actual construction process to ensure quality. They also make sure crews are following the proper safety measures.

Meanwhile, the project manager works to manage resources, coordinate labor, and keep the project on schedule. With so many pieces of the project now in motion, communication is crucial. 

Closeout

The closeout phase involves wrapping up all project deliverables, from outstanding work to documentation and payout. 

During closeout, project managers collect the necessary documents, coordinate final inspections and commissioning, handle finances for final payments, and resolve any outstanding issues. Crews complete all punch list items and prepare the project for handover. 

Though closeout may feel like the home stretch of the project, it still requires meticulous organization and planning. Delays during the closeout process can create financial troubles for contractors and owners, impacting profitability and draining resources. 

What is construction project management software?

Construction project management software helps construction companies simplify collaboration with teams and track project milestones in real time. It serves as a centralized platform where organizations can monitor project progress and optimize outcomes. 

With a project management solution, companies can plan more effectively, manage tasks and allocation of resources, and keep communication flowing throughout the project lifecycle. A robust project management tool eliminates a lot of manual work and can also help teams avoid making costly errors. 

However, construction project management software isn’t the only software that’s valuable to construction teams. There are other tools that can also help accelerate project delivery — like ActiveDraft

While it’s not construction project management software, ActiveDraft can keep your build on track and profitable. Throughout pre-construction, construction, and post-construction, ActiveDraft makes it easy for teams to collaborate, store, and send documents for review and approval. Teams can manage documents from one central location, so everything they need is always just a few taps or clicks away.

Best practices for managing a construction project from start to finish

When all parts of a construction project are in motion, keeping things running smoothly can feel impossible. Here are some best practices to help make the entire project more manageable. 

Plan thoroughly

Before you break ground on a project, you need a well-crafted plan. It’s the project roadmap that will guide you if you veer off course. As part of your construction plan, you’ll want to define the project scope, project objectives, required resources, and estimated project budget. 

Costly on-site changes can leave project teams scrambling, but with a proactive digital planning phase, you can eliminate those unwelcome surprises. Tools like ActiveDraft help you catch and address these issues early on, significantly reducing project delays and project cost overruns. 

Establish clear communication channels

Since there are so many stakeholders involved in a construction project, clear, effective communication is essential. Maintaining open communication with all stakeholders, including clients, general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers, allows everyone to make better decisions. 

It’s a good idea to schedule regular meetings and updates to make sure everyone is aligned with project goals. No matter their role, teams should always know the status of the project.

When you work to prevent miscommunications, you help everyone avoid the bottlenecks and confusion that can plague even the most well-planned projects. 

Use the right tools

Just like construction crews need the right tools and equipment, project managers also need effective tools to do their jobs well. Project management software is one of the most important tools in their kit. This software allows you to track project milestones, manage budgets, schedule tasks, and identify potential issues early. 

When used alongside project management software, ActiveDraft works to further streamline your project, making it easier than ever to collaborate. Using this simple yet powerful document markup and collaboration tool, teams can annotate documents, assign tasks, and ensure follow-ups, all from within their web browsers. 

Proactive risk management

When you identify project risks ahead of time, you can create a plan to address and mitigate them. Teams often fail to recognize financial risks before a project is way over budget. 

Likewise, safety hazards and environmental concerns are much harder to address after an injury or major incident on the job site. This is why it’s important to have a proactive risk management plan and regularly review and update it. 

Implement quality control measures

A lapse in quality isn’t just a matter of cutting corners. On a construction site, failure to maintain the proper quality control measures can lead to accidents and injuries. 

After the project is complete, the stakes are even higher. Poor quality work can make structures unsafe and put many lives in danger as buildings take on greater loads with more occupants. 

With regular inspections, you can make sure completed work adheres to best practices. These quality control measures are vital practices within the construction industry — the sooner you can catch a potential issue, the better. 

Change management

Changes are inevitable in a construction project. Whether the client requests a last-minute change order or there’s a shortage of materials needed to finish a project, flexibility is an asset. Teams must be ready to change direction at a moment’s notice. 

Anytime there’s a change in project scope, materials, or timelines, it should be clearly documented, approved, and communicated to all parties involved. This helps minimize disruptions to the project, and if questions arise later on, this documentation will give stakeholders a decision-making trail to reference. 

Elevate your construction project management processes with ActiveDraft

Creating and refining your project management processes and exploring project management tools can seem overwhelming. But the time you invest in improving your processes now will pay dividends later on. Your construction company will be able to deliver more projects on time and within budget. 

ActiveDraft helps eliminate the chaos of scattered documents, project uncertainties, and siloed communication so you can lead projects with greater confidence and clarity. 

See for yourself how ActiveDraft can help simplify your construction project management process. Try it free for 30 days!

Jeff Mack is the Head of Marketing at ActiveDraft, where he is responsible for developing the brand and telling the ActiveDraft story.

ActiveDraft

The missing link in Construction Collaboration

Company

© 2024 ActiveDraft, LLC. All Rights Reserved.