Become a better construction project manager: 8 skills and tasks to master
Construction project managers (CPMs) oversee and supervise construction projects from start to finish to ensure the projects are delivered on time and within budget.
Construction project management can be extremely demanding given the many variables involved. To do their jobs successfully, CPMs must have the following attributes:
- Vast knowledge of the construction industry
- A highly evolved particular skills set
- A thorough understanding of their projects
- Ability to focus on the overall big picture while balancing numerous duties and functions
- Ability to make informed decisions quickly
- The right personality and temperament to overcome obstacles
To give you a better idea of what it takes to become a first-rate CPM, here are eight skills and tasks every CPM should master.
1. Stay Organized
Managing a construction project successfully entails juggling multiple responsibilities at once, so maintaining a high level of organization is critical to ensure that everything gets done well and on time. Staying organized is the most effective way to prevent unnecessary problems and to address any issues that do arise. To stay organized, many CPMs use construction project management software such as Procore, Stack and Smartsheet.
2. Plan for Everything
CPMs must be able to plan for today, the next day and the day after, for what needs to happen and for what could happen—in other words, for everything that can be planned. The saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is true. Failure to plan for the short- and long-term often leads to project failure. CPMs should carefully examine projects’ specifications to get a true understanding of the scope of work, and make sure they have the resources they need to properly execute their plans.
3. Communicate Constantly
The importance of exceptional communication skills in construction project management cannot be overstated. A CPM must communicate many people: team members, project owners, architects, engineers, subcontractors, vendors, suppliers, inspectors, trade workers, lawyers, etc. The flow of a construction project depends on the flow of communication. Communication should be accurate, clear and timely, whether in person or in writing, by phone, email, video or a work execution platform.
4. Manage Your Time, Prioritize
Because they’re involved in almost every aspect of their construction projects, CPMs spend their days being pulled in many directions. Managing time is about being organized and prioritizing tasks so that critical issues take precedence over less important ones. By prioritizing, CPMs avoid wasting time on things that don’t need to be addressed immediately while there are more pressing tasks that need their attention.
5. Know Your Costs
CPMs must understand the costs involved in a construction project: materials, equipment, wages, permits, documents, etc. From the initial bidding activity to the project’s closeout phase, a CPM is responsible for monitoring and tracking all expenditures. Knowing the value and costs of every aspect of a construction project enables CPMs to make informed decisions and stay within budget.
6. Delegate to the Right People
It takes a village, that is, a lot of people to bring a construction project to fruition. Delegating some of the work is essential. Delegation goes beyond telling someone what to do. It involves knowing to whom certain tasks should be assigned, when and how. The person receiving the assignment should have the expertise to carry it out, and the CPM must follow up to ensure that the task was done competently. Many managers often delegate jobs to people who don’t have the knowledge, skills or authority to do them. As a result, they end up micro-managing them, which is the opposite of delegating.
CPMs must be able to negotiate and persuade people involved in different aspects of the project, from clients to workers, subcontractors and members of their own teams.
8. Visit the Jobsite
Construction projects can’t be successfully managed from an office. CPMs should visit the jobsite regularly, where they can assess the progress, quality and safety of the project. In addition, in-person meetings help nurture relationships, and good relationships help get the job done. Meeting key people face-to-face at the jobsite can also expedite matters and help manage client expectations. Personal attention matters, regardless of the size of the project.
So there you have it, the top eight. But why stop there? There are other skills and tasks CPMs should excel at, such as:
- Making timely and informed decisions
- Not compromising on quality
- Polishing their team management skills
- Obtaining tech that helps them to their jobs
- Staying calm and learning from their mistakes
The work of a CPM is complex and multifaceted. Aside from knowledge about construction, experience in project management and technical skills, CPMs also should have the soft or core skills needed to be effective, successful managers.