As a project manager in the construction industry, your primary function is running and managing the project from start to end. This responsibility requires technical knowledge, management and coordination skills, and practical strategies to fulfill this role as smoothly as possible. However, it is essential to remember that you are not alone in this project. Instead, you have a team of highly skilled and trained professionals as your project stakeholders to work with – the owner, the design architect or engineer, the general contractor, and the subcontractor – to name a few.
In any industry, one must always consider the possibility of failure. Of course, the construction industry is no exception to that fact. Many departments and teams are involved in a single project, and many items are to be monitored, making it hard to keep track of all the changes and progress. One of the main culprits in failing to meet your construction targets is poor project visibility from within the team. Increasing your project visibility is one way to overcome this problem by bridging information and communication gaps between the team’s core members.
Today’s blog will discuss why you should increase your project visibility as a construction manager and how each daily construction log and progress reports fit into the bigger picture, resulting in the project’s highly coveted success or disappointing failure.
What is Project Visibility?
In a nutshell, project visibility means that everyone involved has a clear picture of the project and its status. Essentially, this is more than just sending a weekly email, updating monitoring sheets, and preparing reports. Nowadays, project managers have steered away from the traditional and old-fashioned way of managing construction. They are more focused on learning from previously handled projects and gearing toward creating a sustainable and optimized standard operating procedure to control better and ensure success for the next project – and this is where project visibility plays an essential role.
Ideally, project visibility means that every person in the team should know the exact status of the project in any given period of time. Data should always be available and presented precisely and accurately, easily understandable even to someone who is not an expert on technical matters. The following are the fundamental foundations of project visibility:
- Project Scope and Deliverables
- Employee’s Responsibility and Task Accountability
- Material, Crew, Resource and Inventory Allocation and Management
- Budget and Running Cost Status
- Visual Construction Timelines and Milestones
- Possible Delays and Risks
Why Should You Aim for Higher Project Visibility?
Construction projects are highly prone to delays and risks that almost everyone expects would happen eventually – sooner or later down the road. Often, these delays result in vast amounts of losses from time, money, and effort invested in the works. Be it from an owner-initiated change of plans and specifications, material lead time deliveries, or a labor shortage. However, we should steer away from this mindset and devise a strategy to minimize these delays and risks by creating good project visibility.
This section has listed down five reasons why project visibility plays a vital role in your project’s success.
Optimized Standard Workflow Processes
How your workflow processes go is one of the most critical aspects when managing a construction project. Essentially, your workflow dictates the sequences of activities and steps needed for the project from start to finish. Understanding their relationships and how they affect one another is required to keep your project from falling apart.
With excellent project visibility, we can devise and optimized the standard workflow processes in the project by seeing and analyzing the status of the workflow. From here, we can identify the critical areas of focus and devise ways to improve these by setting which activities should be prioritized and breaking them down into more workable tasks – creating a new and improved workflow process.
Task Accountability and Ownership for Each Project Contributor
Ensuring task accountability and ownership is one way to improve your team’s productivity and efficiency when handling their responsibilities in the project. Therefore, effective task management plays a vital role in construction – each duty should be assigned to the right person based on their skills, strengths, and work attitude.
Having good project visibility means that every individual contributor can see each of their responsibilities and how it affects the project. If they can see and understand how their contributions – big or small, fit into the bigger picture and helps shapes the way the project will progress, they will be more motivated in doing their assigned tasks. You will get the best work quality from your team while keeping the overall morale high and satisfied.
Better Time and Communication Management
Bridging communication gaps between team members is the core purpose of project visibility. However, this does not mean that you should be scheduling regular coordination meetings for updates on a daily basis. Rather than looking at the frequency of these meetings, focus more on the content and details included in your progress reports. These can reduce the recurrence of redundant back-and-forth communication, leading to more time freed up to do other significant tasks.
Of course, meetings are still an essential part of the process. The best way to make the most out of these meetings is always to prepare a meeting agenda and take valuable input from the team if they want to include a subject for discussion. In that way, every concern will be raised and addressed accordingly.
Improved Delay and Risk Management
As discussed earlier, construction projects are prone to delays – which is why the aim of a project manager is always to minimize these to deliver the task promptly without compromising quality. Thus, having a good view of the project’s progress helps you identify and predict any potential risks and roadblocks early on. Project visibility gives you ample time to create a contingency plan or solve the problem, helping keep your project scope, budget, and timelines in line.
Fast Decision-Making Process
Decision-making has always been part of any business in all industries. The decision-making level varies per member of the team, depending on what role you are in. For example, the top management team may need to make business-level decisions to ensure good cash flow and profit for the company. A project manager, on the other hand, makes project-level decisions regarding site and construction management. Having access to all aspects of the project can help you make informed decisions to guarantee your project’s success.
How Can You Increase Your Project Visibility?
Given everything we have discussed in the earlier sections, the next question that is probably on your mind is increasing your project visibility. Yes, the thought of aiming for high project visibility may seem troublesome. Still, there are many ways that you can achieve this goal without being too overbearing with updates or micromanaging the whole team. We have listed down five tips on helping you increase your project visibility.
Aim for Higher Transparency within the Team
Always check and re-check your company’s capacities and your team’s workload. Transparency helps your team in the long run by encouraging them to layout out every problem in the open instead of keeping them to themselves in hopes of solving them independently. This tip also gives you a chance to allocate several resources to those who urgently need them.
Ensure Team Collaboration
Each team member plays an essential role within the project. As discussed earlier, everyone must provide updates on their assigned tasks to get an overview of the project’s progress to increase visibility from within the team.
Create Comprehensive and Detailed Progress Reports
A progress report should be able to provide complete details to ensure adequate information transmittal and communication. The progress report should include project identifiers, summaries, milestones, possible difficulties, and action plans.
Incorporate Real-Time Construction Updates
Having real-time updates enables a project manager to be able to assess the project and strategize accordingly. It also gives the project stakeholders a clear view of what is happening within the project – how each activity is going and how it will affect the timelines. This way, everyone has an idea of which crucial areas they should be focusing on.
Employ a Construction Management Software Solution
Keeping all your work in one place is essential to achieve high project visibility. With the digital advances available to everyone, employing good construction management software can streamline all the information in one place and make sure that everyone is on the same page and has access to every bit of detail. This solution also eliminates the process of sending documents and getting approvals via email. Instead, everything is available online in a cloud-based system minimizing the risk of losing paper trails.
The key to a successful construction project has high project visibility from within the team. Everyone must have a clear view and understanding of the project’s progress and status to bridge information and communication gaps – working together in harmony through good team collaboration and decision-making. Project visibility aims to create an optimized process system where everyone has access to all information to increase your project’s level of performance.