Construction executives looking at drawings and graphs 1200x800
Construction executives looking at drawings and graphs 1200x800

5 Traits of Successful Construction Project Managers

Construction project managers carry a lot of weight on their shoulders. While there are many leaders and stakeholders on the team, it ultimately falls on project managers to make sure the job gets done while meeting strict project specifications and constraints. In “Simplified Project Management for Construction Practitioners,” Dr. Tarek Hegazy explains that every construction PM has three main objectives:

  • Deliver the project on time 

  • Keep it under budget 

  • Maintain a high-level of quality 

Easier said than done. To meet these three goals, project managers use a variety of tactics, developing vastly different management styles. For example, some PMs have learned through on-the-job experience, while others have formal training. There are PMs that create a basic schedule and handle issues and challenges on the fly, and some that are married to a systematic approach to planning, scheduling and execution.

Whatever your style, it’s important to stay up-to-date about the best practices that have helped PMs create better plans and more accurate forecasts. Here are five traits that all successful project managers have in common:

1. They Anticipate the Future

One of the most important elements of project management is foresight, and nowhere is foresight more important than with resource planning. The most successful PMs use resource-based scheduling to make sure that they incorporate employee and equipment availability into their project planning process.

To merge resources and scheduling, PMs need strong software that allows them to anticipate project needs. CMiC’s Resource Planning tool, for example, combines three pillars of data and presents that data in dashboards that give PMs at-a-glance insights, such as:

  • Employee and payroll information

  • Job costing

  • Project schedules and timelines

If for instance, a PM needs a site foreman with certain certifications, they can search within the Resource Planning tool for employees that meet these requirements. The tool pulls information about employees from payroll and HR such as, where they live, their project history, their hourly rate and the markup on their billable hours. PMs can check how much it will cost to have that employee on site, and by viewing a visual heat map, they can see if the employees that meet their search criteria are available for a job.

Finally, the Resource Planning tool is also connected to the Opportunity Management tool. This means that teams can look ahead at resource availability during the opportunity phase before they bid on a project. With advanced notice, companies can anticipate staffing shortages or overages and make the necessary adjustments for keeping a project on-schedule and running smoothly.

2. They Stay on (or Under) Budget

Managing construction costs all comes down to using the right tools, and the best PMs leverage technology to make sure that every aspect of financial management is transparent. This means using a software platform that provides team members with accurate, real-time financial data.

Project managers must conduct regular budget reviews and look at financial information from multiple vantage points. For this to happen, they need regular access to data from the accounting department. And this works both ways: the accounting department relies on regular financial updates from the project manager. For example, if a PM receives a change order, they need to submit that information to accounting who adjusts the budget accordingly.

When construction firms use completely different software systems for accounting and project management, they’re forced to manually enter project data into multiple programs. Unfortunately, manual entry increases the likelihood of human error and conflicting data. If either the project manager or the in-office financial team is working off inaccurate information, there will be discrepancies between financial reports.

The best way to keep stakeholders on the same financial page is with a unified construction software platform. With unified software, all the applications within the system are connected to one database. So, while the accounting department and the project manager are using different applications for daily tasks, these applications communicate with one another and auto-populate real-time financial data.

3. They Make Communication Their #1 Priority

Construction is a highly collaborative industry and project managers act as the hub for communication and teamwork. Project managers are tasked with funneling the right information to the right people, facilitating discussions and helping stakeholders make crucial decisions. In a fast-paced world where getting everyone in the same room for in-person meetings is nearly impossible, the only way for PMs to manage communication is with technology.

Armed with advanced construction software, project managers can be effective communicators. They can send and receive RFIs in real time, track all project-related communications and create regular stakeholder reports quickly and easily. Most importantly, with mobile tools, they can manage these tasks from their smartphone or mobile device.

Construction software also helps PMs tailor their communication style by audience. The project schedule, for example, needs to be in different formats depending on who’s using it. Executives may want to see the critical path, while work crews will need simple task list with deadlines. With the right technological tools, project managers can adapt information for different audiences and provide project views that are relevant to individual roles.

4. They Set High Standards for Quality Control

Project managers that push their team to continually improve their skills and reach for greater levels of craftsmanship tend to be the most sought after by construction firms. Not only does setting high expectations ensure that the final product exceeds stakeholder expectations, it also motivates employees to take pride in what they do.

The construction industry has been slow to digitize the quality control process. Many firms are still using pen and paper to check-over their work: they print out QC sheets, check off the items and scan the sheet when they’re back at the office. This process wastes time and makes archiving the information difficult.

On the other hand, companies that use quality control applications are setting their PMs up to do their best work. With construction software, project managers can create quality control checklists and use mobile devices to complete daily QC checks. For example, during the concrete pouring phase, they can check and log whether a core sample has been tested, what the temperature was when the concrete was poured and how long the concrete was left to cure.

What’s more, with unified software solutions all the QC data is stored in a central database that team members across the organization can access easily. When PMs spot any deficient items, they can take a photo and attach it to an issue report that’s emailed to the contractor. Not only does recording the issue create a paper trail for legal purposes, it allows PMs to monitor the status of repairs or corrections.

5. They Use Technology to Monitor the Job Site Like a Hawk

Skilled project managers are multi-taskers, keeping their eye on the big picture while also monitoring the minute details of day-to-day operations. They understand that it’s their job to make sure employees are adhering to quality standards and staying on-track.

To keep a close watch on work crews, some PMs spend a significant amount of time on the job site so that they can monitor progress, quality and productivity with their own eyes. Sometimes, being physically on-site is necessary, but project managers must also be able to track day-to-day job site activity remotely.

With software like CMiC Field, project managers can check in on their team with their mobile device. Whether it’s a quick snapshot of the project progress or a more detailed look at the work completed, mobile construction software lets project managers lead their team whether they’re on site or not.

To learn more about how technology is helping construction project managers keep up in this highly competitive industry, check out How Construction Software Has Reinvented Project Management.