How to Write an Effective Construction Management Plan
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Anything with a beginning and an end, which creates a product or service, is a project. While the basic components of building a plan to implement that project is the same, there are differences in approach from industry to industry.
Construction project management (CPM), as the name implies, is focused on projects in the construction industry. But the constraints of time, cost and quality remain the same.
When making a construction management plan, the projects tend to be larger and more complex, however, and the project manager needs to know public safety and other skills beyond the typical ones for managing a project.
What Is a Construction Management Plan?
So, what is a construction management plan? That’s a bit of a multiple-choice answer. It can be a plan delivered by the client to map out the entire project from its goals to an evaluation of the process. Sometimes the plan comes from the contractor, who focuses on the construction work primarily. Then there’s the plan that puts the project in the context of the site around it, as defined by the rules and regulations of the municipality in which it is being done.
But regardless of what type of construction project planning you’re involved in, the best way to start is at the end. You need to know what it is you’re planning for, and where it will stand in the environment in which you’re building it.
Building construction is complex. The more aligned the plan is with the objective, the less likely issues will arise as you’re executing it. You need to keep in mind the customer’s requirements, of course, but the time for tinkering is in the planning. When you break ground, your plan should be as solid as a rock.
How to Write an Effective Construction Management Plan
Construction project planning is like creating a roadmap that leads everyone through all the phases of the project. It’s a formal document that requires approval from the client or stakeholder, and shows how the project will be executed and controlled.
You’ll start with a business plan, which explains the whys of the project, including:
- Business Benefits: what is the return on investment of the project.
- Planning Permission: you must get approval and adhere to building and municipal codes.
- Project Description: outline what the project is and how you’re planning to execute it.
- PM and Team: who is leading the project and who will make up the teams executing the plan.
- Project Design: the plans, blueprints and other drawings detailing the build.
- Bid and Contract: there are a couple of different bidding methods, which should be detailed here, also the details of the contract.
- Construction Process: identifying activities and resources required to make the design a physical reality.
- Occupation and Defects Liability Period: outlining the process the client takes once possessing the development to occupy it.
- Evaluation After Occupation: like a post-mortem to note what worked and didn’t over the course of the project.
The project construction plan is made up of many documents, including:
- Scope Documentation: The scope is a list of goals, deliverables, features, functions, tasks, deadlines and costs. It’s the overall needs of the project. You’re outlining the business needs of the project, as well, by detailing the benefits among the milestones you’ll track to reach them.
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): This is the document that visualizes the key project deliverables and organizes the work your team will do when the project is started into manageable sections. Think of it as a “hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team,” as defined by the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK).
- Communication Plan: To effectively implement various aspects of your project plan, you must articulate them clearly and deliver them efficiently. That’s where this communication plan comes in. You need to define your goals and objectives, then decide on what tools and methods you’ll use to deliver them.
- Risk Management Plan: All projects have risks, but construction projects have risks on a different level. You’re going to have to provide safety management, which will include a thorough assessment of what might go wrong and how you resolve it. But the risks aren’t only physical or life-threatening, they also include time and cost estimates and other more mundane aspects of the project.
Construction Planning Tips
All construction plans have one thing in common—whether they’re for a commercial or residential build—and that is the desire to complete the job on time and within budget. Here are some tips to make sure you create the best possible construction plan.
Assemble the Right Team
Not every construction project is the same; therefore, the team you assemble to execute the various stages should have the experience and skillset to do the work properly. That includes the engineers, builders, contractors and anyone associated with an aspect of the build. Without the right team, a great plan is destined to fail.
It sounds obvious, but gather a dozen people and you’ll get two dozen answers on what “finished” means. To avoid this, you need to clearly outline the parameters of a completed task. This must also take into account the project timeline and budget, as well as the opinions of your stakeholders.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
A plan is a way to communicate, but it’s not the only way. Plans change, and those changes need to be clear. Even before plans are finalized, communication is critical. You want to hear from stakeholders, regulators and even team members to get a full picture of the project’s expectations and constraints. Create a communication plan. Stay connected and keep records.
Be Aware of Risk
As noted above, change is part of any project. There are always internal and external forces at play that will impact your plan. Create a risk management plan to anticipate potential changes and how they’ll be managed. Include this to give yourself the wiggle room you’ll need to adjust according to unplanned changes.
Always Be Planning
The project plan must not only have tasks with slack in case of delays, it should come with an eraser. A construction product plan is not written in stone. It’s a living document, one you not only refer to throughout the life cycle of the project, but continuously adapt to the reality on the site.
Maintain Your Construction Project Plan
Making a construction project plan is only the beginning. You also need to maintain it. While we touch on some things you can do, like continuous planning, the topic deserves its own section. Here are some ways to manage your construction management plan.
Create a Roadmap
Construction projects must coordinate a variety of smaller projects to reach the final deliverable (digging the foundation, laying concrete, electrical and so forth.) Each of these phases has to work together to save time and money. Orchestrating that is complex, which is why a roadmap is essential. A roadmap is a visual tool like a Gantt chart; only it can show several projects together on one timeline to help you work more efficiently.
Meet Regularly With Stakeholders
The stakeholder has a vested interest in the construction project. You share the plan with them, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of the picture until the project is complete. They might not want to go into great detail as you would with your team, however, a broad strokes approach to updates is crucial to manage their expectations. It’s likely that during the execution stage they will have change requests that will directly impact the plan. Figure out how and when to meet, as well as the frequency of those meetings.
Keep an Eye on Quality
The triple constraint helps you keep you plan on track by balancing cost, scope and time. But there’s a silent forth partner to this classic project management term and that is quality. Getting the project built on time and within budget is important, but if that’s done at the expense of the integrity of the structure the project is a failure—and likely a lawsuit. To avoid these dire consequences, quality must be on the radar. To manage the quality of your project, your project plan must identify benchmarks and measure these throughout the execution of the construction project plan.