Modern construction projects are more complex compared to the traditional buildings built 40-50 years ago. They’re much taller now; the architectural setup is more sophisticated; the requirements for fire, safety, and ventilation have evolved too. And because of these complexities, project managers also need to level up, making their construction project management more detailed.
This fact puts more pressure on the project manager who’s already wrapped up with an overwhelming amount of tasks. He’s the main person-in-charge in all processes at the site and still handles the construction crew management part. All these he needs to check on a daily basis to make sure that the project is running smoothly. And now, he also needs to check on the quality of the project and whether or not the building is in compliance with the state and client’s standards.
We always hear experts talk about how a perfect construction plan and builders schedule can smoothen out the operation. But even the most experienced project manager can drown from so many tasks, making his construction project management skills less reliable. He then forgets some parts of the operation or unable to handle most of his crew members, which all makes the plan rather useless.
But with digital technology, he can work on all of his tasks without difficulties and even enhancing the quality of his construction project management.
So today, we will go over the technologies commonly used by successful construction project managers. But before that let’s have a quick review of the responsibilities of a construction project manager.
Role of Construction Project Managers
From the pre-construction stage up to the project closing, the project manager is the one who takes charge of most of the tasks in any construction work. He’s heavily involved in the planning and scheduling stages during the pre-construction as well as the site inspection. And when the operation begins, he’s the one who leads the crew members in doing their tasks, checks on daily progress and work quality, solving problems, and strategizes for a better work plan. Overall, it is his responsibility to ensure that the project is moving and that it is within the budget and schedule.
If it sounds simple, just imagine how big a construction site can be or how many crew members are needed to work at the site.
It can be more overwhelming and exhausting than you can imagine.
And his tasks don’t end there because an effective construction project management requires a lot of other things from the project manager. On top of monitoring what’s happening at the site, he still has tons of office work that involves data control, change orders, RFIs, transmittals, safety regulations, job costs, materials, submittals, inventory, labor wages, and a whole lot more.
With a load of tasks like this, hiring a personal assistant may not really be the best option. On the other hand, technology can help project managers work smarter, write better plans, and become more adaptable and efficient in their project and construction crew management. Furthermore, it provides them with the ability to change on the fly without bringing the construction to a halt or causing a negative impact on the project’s budget, plan, and schedule.
Importance of Tech in Better Construction Project Management
Customers are becoming demanding these days and they require the construction companies they hire to provide more value to the project, find ways to reduce time-frames, innovate, and come up with more cost-effective solutions all while ensuring that work quality is improved. Currently, technology is what’s making all of these possible.
Technology has been revolutionizing the construction industry in the past decades. Today, it is changing the way construction is done in ways we haven’t seen before. Digitization through Building Information Modeling (BIM) and software have made collaborating possible in real-time and anywhere. This has accelerated processes at the office and the site and greatly enhanced project management.
So if you want your construction company to remain competitive in this saturated industry, you need to embrace the new approaches in managing a project and integrate them into your usual strategy.
Tech Tools for Better Construction Project Management
While some companies are still hesitant to incorporate technology in their work, others are already enjoying the benefits of streamlining workflow with tech tools. Now, let’s look into some of the most used technologies used by fast-rising and well-established construction companies in improving their project management strategies.
Virtual Designing with BIM
In our previous blog discussing how construction companies are leveraging BIM to their advantage, we pointed out how effectively and accurately it can detect future issues, given your design and plan. Basically, it creates a multi-dimensional model of the project instead of drawings, hence giving the project team a vision of how the project should look like when they follow the design and plan. This way, the team is able to detect possible errors even before the construction begins, hence reducing a significant amount of energy, money, and time wasted on redoing the construction. That said, it helps the project manager improve the original plan and prepare better contingencies and mitigation that might not have been realized before.
Construction planning is never an easy task. Complex projects often require looking back at previous works to review processes that worked. ERP allows you to do so as this software can store a massive amount of data from your previous construction projects.
Modern construction project management software functions as ERP system that uses the cloud to keep your project files safe and intact even when the project already ended. Pulling out these files is made easy and can be viewed from any device that connects to the internet. Moreover, they have turned into a full-service ERP construction software that combines other functions vital to your project management like construction crew management, document management, communication, collaboration, file sharing, and reporting. Hence, by using this single platform, data can be shared across all facets of the project while minimizing double entry.
Document Imaging and Digitization
The office of the general contractor and project manager used to be crammed with file cabinets packed with submittals, time cards, change orders, plans, drawings, invoices, and reams upon reams of other printed documents. So when the project manager needs to find a file, it takes him a lot of time to browse through all the folders. Sometimes, they are even misplaced or accidentally trashed.
But today, project managers have learned to use document imaging where they scan files and save them as images or PDFs and organize them in folders on the computer. Some others are using electronic receipts and invoices so they can save them automatically to folders. This makes it easier for the project manager to find files and attach them to reports, communication channels, or emails.
Automated Workflow Tools
Some tasks in construction can be digitally automated like reporting and sending crew schedules. By setting up alarms, person-in-charge can be notified before the task is due so that projects can move quicker, hence reducing instances of cramming. Consequently, work quality is improved. Modern construction project management software is an example of technology for automating these tasks and helping improve collaboration between the office and the site as well as work efficiency.
Intuitive Project Dashboard
Having a project management software that’s complete with the functions you need isn’t enough. Since this will be the same software used by crew members at the site, it will be beneficial if the software dashboard is intuitive and straightforward. This will help them drill down into the data, hence saving time and eliminating confusion when navigating the menu. Most software place the most relevant data on the dashboard too so the project manager can see them right away. There are also special software that allow the contractor and subcontractor to share a single space but the subcontractor’s access only enables him to see data related to his project.
There is an explosion of smart devices and mobile phones in the current generation and apps are being designed to make life practically convenient. It’s the same with construction. The industry is now taking advantage of mobile apps for more effective communication at the site and better project management. Project managers are now able to view the project status and crew activities straight from his phone, making it possible for him to address issues no matter where he is.
Numerous construction companies are moving to the cloud to achieve real-time data. Data is crucial in the success of a construction company but it is only as good as its accessibility, relevance, and timeliness. In-premise software and paper documentation can’t guarantee timeliness and accuracy that’s why it is recommended for firms to take advantage of the cloud to send relevant data as they are made or revised. This will ensure that everyone in the project team is on the same page.
Project and Construction Crew Management with Pro Crew Schedule
Pro Crew Schedule is a suite of project management solutions specially designed for the construction industry. Being the main tool of project managers in their project and construction crew management tasks, this software serves as a single source of data, intelligence, and truth relevant to the project.
Unlike software that only offers a solution for a single need, Pro Crew Schedule is a complete ERP system out-of-the-box. Its features were designed by a contractor making them effective at seamlessly managing projects and people.
Overall, digital technology is what’s changing the way project managers handle construction works. It’s revolutionized the way project managers understand their projects and control data in an obviously easier way.