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Construction Project Management: 3 Strategies to Ensure Profitability

By Michael Benedict on November 15, 2016
Tags: Productivity

Construction Project Management: 3 Strategies to Ensure ProfitabilityAs construction projects get more complex, construction project management is growing in prominence as a discipline that can keep projects on track and on budget.

A construction project manager is someone who must know the construction industry inside and out — and also be equipped to handle the responsibilities of a traditional project manager.

According to Project-Management.com, a project manager can:

  • Minimize if not prevent scope creep by communicating clear goals and objectives
  • Assign and prioritize resources throughout the life of the project
  • Ensure the lines of communication remain open and that all stakeholders are “on the same page” with changes
  • Work to put backup strategies in place so stakeholders aren’t taken by surprise when things don't go according to plan

Project managers can also help determine whether a project is even worth taking on in the first place.

The ongoing construction labor shortage means that companies are being more selective about what projects they take on. “(Companies) are not going to overeat. They're only taking the work they can handle,” Chris Kennedy, vice president of Suffolk Construction, told Construction Dive. “It's different from the last boom, when people were signing up for work. Everybody still has those recent wounds. They’re going to be a lot more cautious about growing a firm bigger than they can handle.”

The labor shortage has left employers at all levels forced to take a closer look at the number and size of projects they can handle at once, Construction Dive reports.

Large companies may hire a person whose sole job is project management — or a whole team of project managers. Smaller companies still need to take on these responsibilities but may have to wear multiple hats to get it all done.

That’s one reason why mobile digital tools are so important: They can help busy professionals stay on top of all these project management concerns.

Here are three practical steps, taken from the world of project management, you can take to keep your projects on track — and how mobile can help.

1.) Create better estimates

Overbid on a job, and you won't get it. Underbid and you risk not meeting your margins.

The main types of estimating errors, according to BuildingAdvisor.com, are:

  • Omissions: These are items accidentally left out of the estimate — either soft costs (permits, fees, etc.) or hard construction costs.
  • Wrong assumptions: These are items that you assumed were covered under a contractor’s or subcontractor’s bid, but aren’t.
  • Inadequate allowances: You may get an estimate from a contractor or subcontractor with a material allowance that’s too low, a very common problem.
  • Price changes: Material cost or labor costs may rise between the time of the estimate and the execution of the project.

It’s the project manager’s job to ask detailed questions to make sure none of these issues crop up. Mobile estimating apps, like the pre-estimate checklist mobile app from Canvas, take some of the pressure off. The software can flag when a required field hasn’t been filled in, for example, and reduce the number of change orders required to cover additional costs once the project is underway.

2.) Stay on top of daily project costs

Tracking your daily project costs such as labor, material and equipment rental in a mobile app doesn’t take much time, and that data can be instantly exported into a file so you can keep close track of where you are trending in relation to estimates. You can then slice and dice those costs to compare by project type or by cost category, to drill down into exactly where your estimates were spot on — and where they need to be improved.

Mobile apps can also lower your risk of making an error in math, and are particularly useful for helping you to calculate measurements and efficiently create a pre-plan for construction projects.

3.) Improve communication

According to the Project Management Institute, ineffective communication is the primary contributor to project failure about 33 percent of the time. High-performing organizations have formal communication plans for twice as many projects as their lower-performing counterparts.

Mobile tools give everyone the power to keep stakeholders on the same page. With paper blueprints and change orders, it may take multiple courier requests, faxes, or phone calls to communicate changes; with a mobile app, everyone gets notified at the same time when there is an important update to a project.

Project management consultant Dan Julien concurs. “One piece of advice I could offer for those entering this field would be to ensure the flow of communication… Making sure all stakeholders in the project are aware of what is happening on the job will minimize the phone calls, emails, and conference calls in the midst of trying to fix or recover from an issue onsite.”

Get started today

Effective project management means tracking your projects daily. With project management tools — especially mobile-first, digital tools — you can plan for unexpected surprises, stay on budget and produce the best quality (and profitable!) work with a lot less effort and stress.

Get started today by trying out GoCanvas free for 30 days (no credit card or contract required). We'll help you create your first app, whether it’s to track costs, build estimates, or ensure the free flow of communications. 

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