Over the years, I’ve come to learn that project management can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Most construction companies have dedicated project or construction managers to oversee their projects—the core of a contractor’s business. In my experience, nearly everyone in a company touches a project, and helps manage and move it along. So while the project manager or construction manager is indisputably the project point person, project management is really an issue that affects everyone. Here’s how many of the clients I talk to breakdown this broad discipline:
Project Scheduling and Logistics
Living squarely in the domain of the operations side of the business is the scheduling of people and other resources—the “logistics” of project management—and is what most folks think about first when they think about the subject. There’s no doubt that scheduling is a vital part of any construction project process. Project scheduling lays the foundation for project completion—what needs to be done when, who is assigned to do it, etc. Without this part of the process, a project plan wouldn’t exist, and project work simply would not get done. But as important as they are, scheduling and logistics is just the first layer of a larger, more complex business challenge.
We’ve all heard the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Without reliable project tracking, you may not even know what project information you’re missing. The best example of this involves earned value, a topic I wrote about a while back. The reason behind the creation of the earned value process was to shine a light on the full scope of project information and bring together the measurements of job progress and job cost. When these operational and financial data are combined, true job status becomes much more evident. This means that this next layer of project management is one that extends the discipline beyond the traditional realm of the project manager and into the domain of business management.
Project communication between companies, field and office workers, vendors and subcontractors is bound to happen. There’s just no way around it. But the big question is, does it happen intentionally? In other words, do you have a process or an approach for communicating with your teams?