Below are some of the skills I think it takes to manage a construction project. See if you agree. What skills do you think it takes to successfully manage a construction project? How did you learn your skills and how can we improve the skills of our future Project Managers?
Skills required to manage a construction project
· To manage a construction project requires technical skills and knowledge (an electrical project would require knowledge in the electrical field, while managing a concrete project would require knowledge of concrete structures).
· You may need to understand the performance of various types of equipment and machines. Some of these are used in the construction process while others will be included in the facility.
· The Project Manager should be able to read and understand drawings, see their interrelationship, and be able to visualise the construction process.
· You should be able to plan the construction process to ensure the project is completed in the shortest possible time, meeting the client’s milestone dates and access requirements.
· The Project Manager has to procure materials and place subcontract orders, and then manage the delivery process and the subcontractors’ performance.
· Project Managers must ensure that none of the workers, visitors, or members of the public, are injured or harmed in any way while on the project, or by any activities related to it. You require a sound knowledge of safety standards, procedures and legislation, which can vary between countries, clients and industries, and in some cases more than one set of safety regulations will apply.
· In addition, an understanding of the applicable environmental legislation may be required.
· You have to ensure that the construction project is delivered to the required quality standards, and in order to do this must be familiar with the project specifications, quality control documentation and testing procedures.
· One of the most important aspects of managing a construction project is to be able to manage, work with, and interact with people. Construction projects involve a number of different parties, such as the client, subcontractors, the public, Designers, project staff, workers, suppliers, local businesses and building inspectors. Many of these people come from diverse countries, cultures, languages, socio economic backgrounds, and educational backgrounds.
· Project Managers have to use all their people skills to negotiate, persuade, and lead the people working on the project, while at all times remaining calm.
· You have to establish and maintain relations with the client, the design team and their own team.
· You also have to be a coach, a teacher and mentor to their team.
· Project Managers require a knowledge of industrial relations procedures so that labour harmony is achieved without jeopardising the project’s productivity, or profitability. You need to be familiar with the company’s procedures and requirements, specific project requirements, and possible union agreements, as well as legislation governing industrial relations.
· You need an understanding of basic financial principles, be able to read and produce cost reports, and ensure the project operates profitably.
· An understanding of legal and contractual requirements, and obligations, is a necessity since they are required to put together claims and variations for changes that occur on the project.
· The Project Manager needs to take action to prevent problems from occurring, and solving those that do occur.
· The Project Manager has to manage risks on a daily basis, making judgement calls which can have large repercussions. Decisions must be made every day, everything from minor decisions to major ones that could impact on the safety of the workers, or cost the project millions of dollars. Yet many of these decisions must be made in a hurry.
· Project Managers also have to be salesmen selling themselves, and the company to clients and their teams, so as to enable the company to win and be awarded the project, and further work.
· You also have to positively influence the contractor’s reputation.
Even when there is help
In some cases, on large projects, there may be a team to assist the Project Manager, consisting of specialist resources, such as Planners, Quality Control Managers, Safety Managers, Engineers, Contract Administrators, clerical staff, and so on. But even in this fortunate position they must manage the processes, and ensure there is full compliance on the project, therefore they’ll need to understand these processes. The Project Manager will have to delegate and motivate their team, using the skills of the individual members and guiding them towards the common goal.
Then just as you have mastered all the problems on one project and successfully completed you move to a new project and do it all over again. Often the new project is for a new client in a different location, working with a new team, with different subcontractors and suppliers. The project could be completely different and result in you using different skill sets. No construction project is exactly the same as the previous one; each is unique, with its own set of problems and parameters.
What do you think makes a great construction project manager?
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(Written by Paul Netscher the author of the acclaimed books ‘Successful Construction Project Management: The Practical Guide’ and ‘Building a Successful Construction Company: The Practical Guide’. Both books are available in paperback and e-book from Amazon and other retail outlets. This article is adapted from information included in these books. )
© 2015 This article is not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission from the author.