The situation is easy to understand: Construction firms are facing a crisis when it comes to project management. If you run a construction organization, chances are that you’re used to spending an inordinate amount of time handling project management tasks and issues.
At the most basic level, the unpredictability in construction makes project visibility, forecasting and managing changes difficult most of the time. But these are just the entry points to the frustration facing construction firms. The even bigger issue may be—simply—a lack of project management talent.
The scale of the project management talent gap
The Project Management Institute found that the need for project management professionals across a variety of sectors is skyrocketing. Between now and 2027, the lack of project management talent could lead to a $207.9 billion loss in gross domestic product across the 11 nations analyzed in the study.
What’s more, the lack of professional project managers is expected to hobble the growth of industries around the world. The gap is most apparent in manufacturing and construction, where approximately 9.7 million project-related jobs are expected to emerge from 2017 through 2027. The next closest sector, according to the study, is information services and publishing, with the job total at 5.5 million.
The situation is dire, as evidenced by well documented studies. Construction companies can’t find the skilled project managers they need to keep up with demands. Training, succession planning and similar strategies are useful, but, at this point, it might not be enough. The solution may instead be to improve project management processes and procedures to drive efficiency and ease the workload within your organization. Instead of needing more project managers, your current experts can get more done if they’re empowered with the right tools.
Of course, updating legacy project management procedures isn’t always easy, but here’s a look at three tasks that are in desperate need of change:
1. Field collaboration
Are your project managers spending as much time on the phone or driving between sites as they are actually solving problems? It’s time to change. Mobile devices are offering construction leaders an opportunity to get the information they need wherever they are, but many builders lack the backend data and workflow management tools needed to deliver relevant data to project managers in a timely fashion.
A construction-focused enterprise resource planning system can provide the data integration, notification and alert systems needed to help project managers stay ahead of big-picture issues while they’re in the field.
2. Project implementation
Working with siloed and outdated paper-based data is preventing managers from performing adequate planning and forecasting for a project. Getting an initiative off to a good start is key to creating positive customer impressions and meeting deadlines, but it’s a huge hurdle in the industry.
A Deloitte study found that funds lost due to inefficiency in the implementation portion of a project often amount to between 30 and 40 percent of the total cost. Better controls and procedures are needed. Organizations can map their processes and workflows in an ERP system, forecast costs using reports on historic data and create a clear construction schedule quickly when managers have the information they need integrated in one place.
3. Emergency response
Construction project management isn’t just about planning and scheduling. To minimize delays, leaders must act quickly and decisively to resolve immediate problems. However, the lack of data visibility in many field settings – not to mention poor data management in the back office – leaves many project leaders to perform guesswork as the best way to respond to an issue.
ERP solutions feature dashboards, reports and data visualizations that can empower managers to gather relevant information and make decisions quickly, changing how organizations respond when something goes wrong.
Efficiency is becoming an acute need in construction project management. Embracing digital technologies, including construction-focused ERP systems with project management capabilities, can go a long way in modernizing legacy processes.