Have you been to a circus and watched the performers execute a balancing act? You will notice how they somehow manage to hold multiple plates up in the air very gracefully. It looks like they are using magic. But the reality, balancing does not require magic, just intense focus and skill. If one of the performers misplaces his hold on a single plate, all plates might come crashing down.
And just like a circus performance, construction management is a balancing act. And during the project life cycle, you will encounter different constraints, including risks, costs, and time. As an effective construction manager, part of your job is learning how to balance these constraints to increase your overall project performance.
In this blog post, we will cover some of the most common project management constraints in detail and introduce some ways in which you can best deal with each.
But What Exactly are Project Constraints?
Project management constraints are the general limits you must recognize and account for during the project life cycle. For instance, the cost constraint means that you are limited to a certain construction project budget, while the time constraint means you should complete the project within a particular timeframe.
The majority of project constraints impact each other. And this is the reason why constraint management is critical to the success of your project. If you then decide that you must expand your project timeline, you will most likely need a lot of money to complete the project as well.
The scope of your project also expands when the cost and time of your projects expand.
Construction Management Constraints You Will Most Likely Encounter
Here is a closer look at the most common construction management constraints that might significantly impact your project outcomes.
1. Project scope
The scope of your project is not an estimate but rather a more guaranteed set of deliverables. So, for your project to become successful, the milestones and deliverables identified in the project scope should be achievable. These deliverables need to be agreed upon by the key stakeholders. Let’s say, in a house construction project, the scope then includes building one kitchen, one hall, and two bedrooms. However, flooring and interior design are not included. As the project manager, you should indicate which exact deliverables will be provided and which will not. In this way, everyone involved in the project knows what they will achieve.
Conducting a thorough assessment of the scope is also one of the primary things you should do. It is very important to ascertain project success. The last thing you must carry out under the project scope is the project scope statement, and this determines what can be involved in your projects and what will not.
The time constraint is a critical element to your project’s success. There are different time constraints you will encounter during the phase of your construction project. And whenever you try to increase your project timeline, there can be a lot of consequences, such as adjustments to the team calendar, extended deadlines, and less time for planning.
The time elements of your project may lead to constraints that include:
- Hours worked on the project
- Overall project timeline
- Internal goal posts and calendars
- Time allotted for strategy and planning
- The number of project phases
With time constraints, as a project manager, you need to make your project timeline as accurate as possible. Relying on your previous projects and using the data is also necessary. Moreover, possible change requests, delays, uncertainties, and untimely risks are another set of many factors you need to consider. A reliable contractor scheduling software is all you and your team need to save you from all of this, especially when handling multiple projects. The software solution has the best features that serve different purposes, helping you navigate your projects while ensuring you complete and deliver the project on time.
3. Project Costs
The cost or budget is the amount of money being invested in your project to achieve the desired results. As the project manager, you should plan the project well so you cannot cross the estimated budget. You also have to control costs within your proposed budget, resulting in a budget overrun.
It is crucial to estimate the project costs as precisely as possible, even before formulating the project plan. It allows you to build a baseline to compare your spending throughout the project cycle and track your progress. You can best track costs and budget spending with online construction management software. Deploying such a software solution can help you control costs and time, allowing for a more seamless tracking and smooth collaboration between you and your stakeholders.
This software tool can make cost control as effective as possible. And effective cost control is vital to the success of your projects.
This constraint depends on the characteristics of the deliverables provided. The quality of your project is evaluated by how closely the outcome matches the expectations. As the project manager, you should always ensure to maintain the project quality since it directly affects your client’s satisfaction.
This strong connection between all three significant constraints mentioned above, i.e., cost, time, and scope, affects the project’s quality. For example, the changes on your project scopes will spiral down your budget and timeline, resulting in more compromised project quality. In the same way, changing the quality expectations affects the three constraints. Let’s say your client wants to get the best quality projects. It increases the duration and costs and may also change the project’s scope.
Finally, these four constraints we mentioned and discussed above are all interrelated.
The critical driver of your project’s success that contribute to the budget significantly is your resources. These resources can be equipment, people, tools, assets, etc. Each of your resources has a direct impact on all other constraints. Thus, as a project manager, you should manage all your resources properly and efficiently to keep other constraints in check.
Incorrect resource allocation may compromise quality, including budget overruns and timelines. Moreover, for successful delivery, as a project manager, you should ensure that all team members are optimally used for maximum productivity and not to burn out the project.
A top-tier, suitable construction management application helps you allocate the right resources to any project, provides powerful analytics for timely decision-making, and maximizes effective utilization.
Expect risks associated with any of your construction projects. Risks can either benefit your project or perhaps derail it off the course. So, as the project manager, you must assess and foresee any possible risks at every step of project planning. You can start by determining risk management strategies and tolerance to mitigate risks when necessary.
There are two types of risks, refer as positive and negative. Let’s just say you are using the latest construction task management software that guarantees to speed up your project on time. Seizing a unique opportunity will normally involve risks, and however, at the same time, it positively affects your projects.
On the other hand, the abrupt abrasion of critical resources due to extreme stress is a negative risk and may hamper project delivery. In a situation like this, you should have a backup plan.
Ways to Manage Construction Project Constraints
The constraints mentioned above are critical to the projects; however, there are ways you can implement them to manage them effectively for successful project delivery. Here are some of the most effective ways to manage your project constraints.
1. Plan and strategize every phase of the project
Devising the right plan will help you avoid common constraints. A breakdown structure of your work where every step is broken down into tasks can help you understand the scope of your project in a detailed way. You can also organize and list all the functions in detail, including the schedules and assigned team members.
2. Understand each constraint clearly
The more you fully understand how constraints affect your construction projects, the better you can plan around them. Knowing every limitation and determining which aspects of the project will be most involved are necessary for dealing with and managing them. With that being said, you can implement tactics such as resource leveling, risk analysis, and so on to negate the opposing effects of the constraints.
3. Have a proper quality management
Sticking to your project’s timeline, scope, and budget is not enough, and the quality of your deliverables should also be up to the mark. So, you need to have effective project quality management. And to be able to improve the quality management system, your focus should be on regularly checking key points in the process.
4. Balance resource utilization
Recurrently overloading resources with work will cause extreme stress, leading to employee burnout. Under utilizing your team’s talent may also decline productivity. And as your resources are one of the most crucial project constraints, insufficient usage may cause budget overruns and project delays.
Therefore, optimal utilization of the project members is the key to business sustainability and profitability.
See Constraints in Real-Time Using Pro Crew Schedule
Always keep track of your project constraints throughout the project life cycle to ensure the project quality meets the stakeholder’s expectations. And when you encounter a certain situation where you can adjust one constraint, like the schedule, consider how it can affect other project areas, like scope and cost, and balance your constraints as necessary.
Pro Crew Schedule, an online construction job scheduling software, helps you visualize and foresee your project constraints in real time. When you need a very effective way to control all elements of your projects and share critical information with others, the built-in, sophisticated features within Pro Crew Schedule can make it easier and seamless.