Content Management Tips for Building Contractors
As a building contractor you could be working on a number of different projects at any given time; from finishing basements to remodeling kitchens and making additions. Contractors have to be able to plan, coordinate, and execute a construction project, across a number of industries - agricultural, residential, commercial, institutional, industrial, civil, or environmental. Besides the hundreds of tasks and multiple phases that are needed during the building process you also need to finish the work on time and on budget. Often, it can be difficult for clients to find the right contractors for the work they need done.
So, what’s the answer? An effective project management plan that puts both you and your clients in the loop on project progression. This may sound daunting at first, but as a contractor, you’re already handling elements of project management whether you know it or not. Your skills might simply need a bit of refining.
Pro tips for project management in construction
1. Get strategic. The best way to start any project is to plan and schedule tasks based on the information you have. Bare in mind, these plans should be made available to all parties to keep you accountable, and should be based on best estimates in terms of time, budget and implementation.
Before you even lay the foundations for your new job, it’s important to decide: who is going to be responsible for what, to allocate costs to tasks and materials, to set out a timeline for completion and to document and involve any other sub-contractors or third parties who are going to be helping you complete the project.
Management pros also tend to leave some margin for error, adjusting timelines and budget slightly to accommodate risk. In order to do this, you’ll need to figure out what potential hazards you might face along the way and adjust your figures accordingly. At the end of the day, it’s better to overdeliver and underspend than it is to under-deliver and over spend. Once you have a plan in place, make sure it is documented where everyone involved can see it and monitor the progress of the project.
2. Put your communication skills to good use. Establish a paper trail when change orders are necessary, and balance your comms between written and spoken channels. This way, you have something to refer to but you won’t lose the personal touch of interacting with your clients face-to-face or personally, over the phone. Communicate problems and delays and follow up on unresolved issues with suppliers and third parties to keep momentum going.
3. Treat completion on a task-by-task basis. During the planning stages, you will note which tasks need to be done in order for other sections of the build to be completed. This glorified to-do list breaks down the overall job into smaller sections. Whether you allocate a group of tasks to more than one person or tackle them one by one, it’s important that one task is completed before the next begins to ensure consistent progress. Once a task is complete, mark it off on the document and update your client on the progress (in reasonable stages).
4. Manage time by prioritising. Each day holds the opportunity to complete a set amount of tasks, with the most important being the focus and secondary tasks coming after. Allocate a specific timeline to each section during the planning stages and stick to it during implementation. Then note whether or not the timelines were realistic. If so, continue as planned. If not, adjust timelines accordingly, update your client and suppliers and continue based on new timeframes.
Part of time management is also learning to identify key talents in your team and delegating the right tasks to those team members. If you clearly communicate priority and timelines and delegate the tasks to the people with the right skills, you can create an element of trust and spend less time micromanaging and more time focusing on what’s important for you to complete.
5. Do a retrospective and look back at past jobs. Experience gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and adjust to complete more efficient home design projects in future. Sit the team down and have a retrospective, which means looking back and identifying problems, solutions, changes and reasons. With this information, create a guideline for your next project which can be adapted regularly. This should allow you to build on your experience and mitigate risks and hazards going forward. While each project is different, many of them have similar issues. As you identify these, you can begin to prepare for them.
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