Construction projects make up the largest industry in the world. They are the backbone of our world’s social, economic, and technological developments and advancements. The quality of our buildings and our infrastructure directly affects the well-being of an individual and a community. Our industry is responsible for producing the basic infrastructures like houses, roads, railways, waterways, irrigation to luxuries like condominiums, high-rise buildings, and commercial spaces.
There are millions of ongoing construction projects in different parts of the world, with varying degrees of specific deliverables or durations. This means that there are hundreds of moving workers, materials, and equipment. All are required to finish the tasks or activities needed for the construction phases.
As the construction project manager, your primary responsibility is to manage construction projects during the entire duration of the project. Starting from the initial planning stages of the project up until the final turnover and acceptance with the client. You are essentially monitoring and managing all aspects of the project, including crew, inventory, and workflow management. However, one of the challenges that even experienced project managers face today is construction crew management.
Handling a whole construction crew and assigning tasks and activities to every worker may seem like a daunting task. But, it can be easily accomplished if you break down your workflow processes into specific work activities. In turn, each activity can be broken down into simple workable and achievable tasks that you can assign to your crew.
In this blog, we will be tackling how to effectively manage your construction crew by outlining your deliverables through proper project task management. But let us first define what a construction crew is in the next section.
What Makes Up a Construction Crew?
A construction crew is composed of a group of construction workers that specialize in skilled and physical labor. They are the construction foreman, skilled labor, and unskilled labor. In managing construction projects, the project manager needs to know the capabilities of each worker to be able to assign the right person for the right task. In this section, we will discuss the responsibility and role of each individual.
A construction foreman is a skilled worker or tradesperson that takes charge and acts as the team leader of the construction crew. He monitors all aspects of the construction onsite, directly coordinating with the project manager regarding the progress updates and quality control. He serves as the liaison between the project manager and workers and should handle the following duties:
- Supervision of all construction activities onsite
- Scheduling training for all employees and workers
- Organization of all workers, material, and equipment
- Monitoring of worker attendance and hours
- Record accomplishments through a construction daily log
- Ensure that tasks are done correctly and within the standard quality control
These include workers with specialty skills, knowledge, and abilities on which they have learned through on-the-job training, vocational school courses, or years of experience. Listed in this section are some categories of skilled labor often seen in a construction site.
A carpenter oversees the building of the framework and structure of the building. Part of his functions is installing wall, floor, and roofing systems, as well as installing fixtures like doors or windows.
Unlike carpenters who often work on wooden elements or the framework of the structure, masons are the ones who work with cement-based materials such as concrete hollow blocks and tiles. Examples of a mason’s tasks include brick layering, tilling works, and interior and exterior wall plastering.
A rodbuster or a rebar worker oversees the reinforcing steel bar fabrication for structural systems. They cut the steel bars or shape the steel based on the plan specifications and requirements.
The electrician is responsible for the electrical system of the structure. He must have a good understanding and background on the electrical plans. His responsibilities include laying out the wirings and installation of rough-ins, devices, and fixtures. Testing and commissioning are also part of his duties to ensure that the system works.
The plumber should have a good background in plumbing systems. He is responsible for assembling pipes, valves, fixtures, and other equipment for the waterline systems, sanitary systems, and drainage systems. They also need to do testing and commissions. Flood or flushing tests are some examples of tests to ensure that the system is free from plumbing problems like backflows or leaks.
Painters often work during the final stages of the project as they are involved in the finishing works of the structure. They are the ones that prepare the surface area for painting and finishing. They ensure that the final product is free from any construction punch list such as uneven painting, paint bubbles, or misaligned paint cutting.
Though unskilled labor does not require any special skills, they are just as important as skilled laborers in the construction industry. They perform many rigorous and physically demanding tasks. To name a few, here are some of their daily activities:
- Clearing and preparation of the worksite
- Loading and unloading materials and equipment
- Providing assistance to other crew members
How To Deconstruct Your Project for An Effective Tasks Management
Now that we have defined what a construction crew is composed of, managing construction crews can be effortlessly done using these seven crucial strategies. These aim to help increase your workforce productivity and guarantee a smooth project flow.
Define Your Project Scope
As a project manager – even as a newbie, or an experienced one, you may have probably heard about this tip a hundred times already. Defining your project scope is a fundamental step to kickstart an effective management style. Gather all documents essential to the project – plans, specifications, budget, and timeline. It is crucial to know what your deliverables to clients are – from the general picture down to the micro details. From here, you will be able to establish your work breakdown structures.
Outline Your Work Breakdown Structures
The goal of establishing a work breakdown structure (WBS) is to define all activities required to complete specific project scopes. Confirm that everything in the project scope is included in your outline. Here, the activities are further broken down into smaller tasks, making it easier to assign to an individual worker. We can also include the schedule, cost, and inventory needed for better monitoring and control.
Create Your Workflow Process
Once you have your activities and tasks defined, create your workflow by connecting them in the proper sequencing. You can visualize your workflow process. You can identify which ones would have critical impacts on your timeline, cost, and inventory.
Assign Individual Tasks to the Right Workers
The best way to handle your project task management is to assign and distribute tasks daily or weekly. Here, you can plan out the required workforce for specific activity or task – considering the relationships of one activity to another and the abilities of your workers as well.
You can also distribute the workload equally amongst the crew -preventing them from becoming overloaded with the work. This is to utilize our labor correctly and maximize productivity to ensure no delays in the project.
Monitor Your Material and Equipment Inventory Daily
Mismanagement of materials and equipment is one of the common causes of delay in construction. No material stock or equipment would result in workers being idle with nothing to work on. By using inventory management software, you can easily do the following:
- Request deliveries of materials ahead of time
- Keep track of the materials or equipment used by the workers
- Monitor material stocks and quantities needed for a work task
- Allocate equipment equally to limit hogging
Keep an Open Communication Between the Office and Field
Communication is essential for any type of business industry. As you are a project manager, your schedule often requires you have to allocate half of your time in the office and half on the site.
Having open communication with your workers means that they can easily update you with project progress, site conditions, or any impending concerns. By doing so, you can immediately solve any unexpected problems and prevent them from being causes of delay.
Utilize a Construction Scheduling Software
Lastly, there are so many digital and technological advancements designed to make our jobs easier. The construction industry has always stuck to the traditional ways – from paper document transmittals to manual communications, but now we are slowly becoming digitalized.
One of the available technologies that can help with construction management is by using construction scheduling software. Everything is available for all team members through the web – online documents uploads, calendar tasks assignments, and project accomplishment updates, to name a few. These can prevent any lapses of information and ensures that everyone is on the same page.
Your construction crew is one of the fundamental tools to the success of your project. Effectively managing construction crews may seem complicated. Deconstructing your project into smaller tasks and subtasks is a great way to assign jobs to your workers and increase productivity – streamlining your way to hitting your project milestone.