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.

Define Done

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.

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Project Management in Construction

Project management isn’t that different, even in an industry as unique as construction. There are other concerns one must be aware of, such as quality and safety management, but overall the structure is the same. With some research, experience, and the right construction project management software, a professional project manager can handle any job.

Making Construction Plans With ProjectManager.com

Gantt charts for the Big Picture

A good construction plan requires thorough planning that outlines every step. Use our gantt to map out every task required to make your project go from point a to point b. Schedule tasks for members of the field team, and create dependencies so everything is completed in a proper order. You can attach files to tasks too, like photos of the job site.

Construction Project Plan Gantt

Punch lists for the Details

Sometimes you just need a simple to do list or punch list to get through your day. Use our task management tools to create a personal list of everything you need to take care of as a construction project manager. Plus, use our mobile app to access your task list on the job site, so you can walk through and make sure everything is taken care of when closing the project.

Task Management Tools Construction Project Plan

Resource Management Tools for Team Workload

Workload tools let you see exactly how much work is assigned to each member of your team, whether they are in the field or in the back office. The color-coded calendar shows you which day the work is assigned, and whether or not that team member is already tasked with a full day’s work. Plus you can set up project work schedules and holidays to mark off certain times as “off periods.”

resource management construction project plan

Timesheets for Tracking Their Efforts

As your team completes their assigned tasks in your construction plan, they can submit timesheets securely online. You can then approve those timesheets with just one click. Now you can have your timesheets and your planning tools together in one easy-to-use software.

Timesheet Tool Construction Project Plan

Dashboards for Monitoring Progress

Our real-time dashboards provide you with the live data that you need to make the critical decisions required from construction project managers. See task progress, workload, and more with one live view. Plus, you can share your dashboard view with stakeholders and contractors to give them a first-hand look at project progress.

project dashboard construction project plan

What Does a Construction Project Manager Do?

When you’re working in construction management, you need to stay aware of the following things:

  • What are the project objectives when planning, including scope, budget, schedule, performance requirements and participants?
  • Maximizing the efficiency of your resources by getting the best labor, materials and equipment available.
  • Coordinating and controlling the planning, designing, estimating, contracting and construction of the whole project.
  • Having effective communications and developing techniques to resolve conflicts.

The responsibilities of a construction manager, according to the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), can be boiled down to these seven categories:

  1. Project Management Planning
  2. Cost Management
  3. Time Management
  4. Quality Management
  5. Contract Administration
  6. Safety Management
  7. CM Professional Practice (defining responsibilities and structure of team, communications, etc.)

There are seven types of construction projects you might find yourself leading:

  1. Agricultural: buildings for agricultural purposes, such as barns, animal sheds, fencing, silos, grain elevators, water supply and drainage, among others.
  2. Residential: homes, apartment buildings, townhouses, etc.
  3. Commercial: relating to commerce, trade and services, such as office buildings, shopping centers, warehouses, banks, theaters, hotels, golf courses, etc.
  4. Institutional: governmental structures and other public buildings, such as schools, fire and police stations, power plans, pipelines, etc.
  5. Industrial: structures used for storage and product production, such as chemical and power plants, steel mills, oil refineries and platforms, seaports, etc.
  6. Heavy Civil: transportation infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, railroads, tunnels, airports, military facilities, etc.
  7. Environmental: this had been a subsection of heavy civil, but has recently broken out as its own category covering projects that improve the environment, such as water and wastewater treatment, sewers, air pollution control, etc.

Construction Project Management Software That’s Powerful and Affordable

Construction management is one of the more complex project management you’re likely to work on, so you’re going to need a PM tool that gives you the features to control all of its various moving parts. The cloud-based ProjectManager.com has those features to help from planning to reporting and every step in-between. More than that, it collects data in real-time, so you’re never caught off-guard. Try it and see for yourself by taking this free 30-day trial.

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