Successful construction management requires an organized, thoughtful, and consistent plan for how the scope of work will be performed by an organization. However, even the best laid plans can fail if they are not adequately communicated to the project team responsible for performing the work on a day-to-day basis. Written construction processes and procedures can be the best way for a construction management team to communicate its plan for how the work is to be accomplished. The best organizations in the construction industry have a wide-ranging library of standard processes and procedures they can reference from project to project and, as appropriate, tailor to address specific project requirements. The failure to implement or follow established processes and procedures is a key risk to the successful completion of any construction project. The following key areas should be included in construction management processes and procedures:
A properly planned and realistic construction schedule can facilitate timely, coordinated, and efficient project execution and provide a means to identify potential issues impacting project completion and profitability. Successful organizations manage the development of these schedules, as well as the consistent updates to these schedules, by adhering to sound procedures that can generally be applied across the varying sectors of the construction industry. Common features of these procedures include the following:
- Senior-level management engagement and development of a baseline schedule in accordance with contract requirements
- Definitions or directions on how to determine the appropriate level of detail in a schedule
- Direction regarding how to develop and include various interdisciplinary deliverables to the schedule relationships
- Checks to ensure the schedule produced and used on the project meets the contract requirements and can be effectively used as a management tool by the execution team in the field
- Checks to ensure the schedule is updated regularly and in accordance with the contract requirements
- Directions outlining when, or defining the circumstances of when, a project may need to re-baseline a schedule
Field Progress Measurement
On large, complex projects, progress measurement is a major undertaking involving coordinated efforts from all construction disciplines. For each task, it is critical to measure what you have done to date and forecast what needs to be done tomorrow in order to meet the schedule. Contract reporting requirements must also be considered when developing a project-specific progress measurement plan.
Projects that are not set up with the appropriate means to track progress, and/or experience problems performing progress measurement, routinely end up in trouble. One of the main causes of troubled projects is ill-informed management decisions based on inaccurate or absent reporting from the onsite execution team. However, in many cases, the root cause of poor progress reporting is not inaccurate data provided from the field, but rather the failure to develop or follow project procedures describing what is to be reported and the method in which it is reported.
There are numerous components common to sound progress measurement development plans and procedures, including the following:
- Instituting management checks to ensure contract reporting requirements are met
- Establishing minimum reporting requirements and processes for identifying measurables that must be tracked
- Ensuring adequate staffing is provided within reporting organizations
- Developing standard report and metrics templates that can be customized for project-specific use
- Providing descriptions for the division of responsibilities that indicate what is to be measured, who is responsible for reviewing and analyzing the data, and how the data is to be incorporated into the project schedule
The timely implementation of a progress measurement plan on a construction project helps reduce cost and schedule risk. Early in a construction program, it can be difficult to set up a system that will meet the future reporting needs of a project. However, attempting to implement an effective progress measurement system late in the execution of large project can prove to be a nearly impossible task.