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Top Tips For Construction Project Managers

StrategyDriven Project Management Article |Construction Project Manager|Top Tips For Construction Project ManagersConstruction projects are famously difficult to manage, and this is because there are often so many moving parts. A small issue that can arise in construction can end up having huge consequences, and this is why so many projects often end up over budget and/or past the deadline. So, what can you do if you are managing a construction project and you want it completed on time and within the pre-agreed budget? There is never a guarantee for this, but read on for a few tips that will hopefully help you to find success with the project while keeping stress levels down.

Establish Clear Plans

The first step to take is to make sure that you and everyone else are on the same page regarding plans, budgets, and timelines. Communication is key to success when it comes to construction, so you will want to make sure that you have a clear understanding of exactly what is expected of you and then that this information is communicated to everyone else involved with the project. You should never shy away from asking a question if you are unsure and encourage people to come forward with any questions or concerns that they have.

Create A Schedule

Scheduling is everything when it comes to construction projects, especially if you will be using different contractors that will only be able to work once a certain aspect is already taken care of. This is why you need to take the time to carefully review plans to get a clear understanding of the different tasks that need to get done and in what order. Once you have done this, you can then start to create a logical schedule that will fit with the deadline (you may want to give yourself some leeway with each task in case something goes wrong).

Identify Key Resources

Around this time, you will also need to start identifying and sourcing your key resources. This will include the manpower that you need, materials, tools, and any equipment that will be needed during the project. Identifying and sourcing resources can be a lengthy and time-consuming process (and never one that should be rushed), so you should always give yourself enough time for this stage.

Find The Best Contractors

Following this point, choosing the contractors for your project will be key and determine the project’s success. You should find specialists for the different aspects of the work, such as full-service drilling contractors like Earthworkz if you need directional boring, site electrical excavation, or any other drilling work done. Using specialists will ensure that the work is always completed safely and to a high standard, which could end up saving you both time and money in the long run.

Make Safety A Priority

Construction is a hazardous industry, and every year there are serious injuries and sadly even fatalities. In fact, two construction workers die from work-related injuries each day on average in the US. You will obviously need to make safety a priority to protect your workers and anyone else on site, which will help to prevent the chances of injury, keep the project running uninterrupted and provide peace of mind. There are a few key steps to keep in mind to make safety a priority, such as:

  • Carrying out a risk assessment
  • Making sure that staff are properly trained
  • Making communication easy
  • Providing sufficient PPE and ensuring that it is used at all times
  • Keeping the site safe, tidy, and organized
  • Making sure equipment and tools have been maintained
  • Using signage around the construction site

Anticipate Issues

As the project manager, you will want to anticipate what problems might arise at each step of the way. Hopefully, you will not encounter any issues, but it is helpful if you can identify what might happen so that you can find ways to prevent these issues from arising but also develop contingency plans to mitigate the impact of a problem. As mentioned before, a small issue could end up having a huge impact through a domino effect, so you need to anticipate what might go wrong and do all that you can to avoid issues.

These tips should be useful when managing any construction project and hopefully help you deliver both on time and on budget. Construction projects are amongst the hardest to manage because there are so many elements that need to be planned for, and issues can arise that can have a big impact on all other areas of the project, but knowing how to manage and prevent issues should help to deliver a successful project and reduce stress.

Improving Your Team’s Lean Project Management

StrategyDriven Project Management Article | Improving Your Team's Lean Project Management“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Vincent Van Gogh

At its core, lean project management is about delivering greater value while minimizing waste. In that sense, this approach will help you improve quality while decreasing the cost of production — but where do you begin?

If your goal is to improve your team’s lean project management, resulting in greater efficiency and productivity, you need to take a number of key steps. Here’s how to get started.

Make Your Projects Run More Efficiently and Deliver Better Results Through Lean Project Management

Lean is a business philosophy that first began within the manufacturing industry. The goal was to decrease costs and lead time while yielding greater quality. Derived from the Toyota Production System, this philosophy is applied to all business processes.

Once Toyota successfully maximized outputs while reducing waste, Lean principles were applied to many business disciplines; and in terms of project management, Lean principles help managers improve key variables. For example, just some of the benefits associated with Lean principles include:

  • Greater quality assurance and customer satisfaction
  • Improved team collaboration
  • Lower costs, as well as reduced waste

How to Apply Lean Project Management Methodology

Once you understand the core principles and benefits associated with lean project management, it will be time to apply what you’ve learned. To do so, take the following steps.

Step One: Identify customer value

When developing any project, the first step is to consider the perspective and needs of the customer. In that sense, you should focus on what the customer needs and when. Quality and price expectations are important to consider here, particularly in terms of value and waste reduction. You should strive to eliminate bottlenecks in the project process, focusing on speed while minimizing waste. You’ll want to remain particularly mindful of wasted effort, inconsistency, and overcommitment issues.

Step Two: Create a value plan

Whenever you’re about to tackle a new project, it’s important to consider the initial idea, visualizing your end goal. In doing so, you will become more mindful of the steps in between. That way, you can better understand which steps add value and which do not. For example, when designers create prototypes, this step typically adds value.

The same is true when building your design system, allowing you to eliminate inconsistencies while standardizing all ongoing processes. Design systems bring order to chaos, boosting efficiency and consistency. As a result, companies are able to create at scale. In contrast, meeting with the entire design team daily to share updates may not add a significant amount of value. Remember to think of the customer. While analyzing each step, ask yourself, does this step add value to the customer?

Read more: Lean UX: Expert Tips to Maximize Efficiency in UX

Step Three: Eliminate activities that don’t add value

This step is all about reducing waste. The ultimate goal here is for your team to end up working on activities that add value, eliminating all those that are non-value adding. Depending on the scope of your project, this may be easier said than done. However, even small improvements can make a significant difference when aiming to become Lean.

Step Four: Continue to improve

It’s important to note that the step above is not a one-time job. To be an efficient, successful Lean project team, you need to continuously review ongoing activities to eliminate and reduce as much waste as possible. It’s also important to empower your team so that everyone feels comfortable challenging inefficient activities.

How to Identify Waste Activities

While you may want to improve your team’s lean project management for a number of reasons, eliminating waste is at the core of this philosophy and is addressed by three Japanese concepts, known as:

  • Muda — This includes any activity that consumes resources without creating value. In relation to project management, this is often seen when resources are utilized without any sense of meaningful output. That is why you need to create a well-defined end-to-end project plan. Work closely with your team so that each individual understands what they’re responsible for.
  • Mura — This focuses on reducing unevenness without your team. The goal here is to maintain balanced progress while identifying risks in your work schedule. Within project management, Mura often evolves due to changing priorities, dependencies, poor risk management, and a lack of clarity — all of which can be avoided.
  • Muri — This involves the concept of being overburdened, relating to both humans and machines. When required to work at a higher pace, for longer, this can lead to low-quality output. To avoid this, establish clear boundaries regarding work-life balance and encourage breaks when needed.

Implement Lean Six Sigma (DMEDI)

DMEDI is a structured, measurable, and highly proactive method. The purpose of this approach is to identify issues upfront so that you can prevent waste in terms of your time and resources. The five phases of this method include:

  • DEFINE
  • MEASURE
  • EXPLORE
  • DEVELOP
  • IMPLEMENT

These phases essentially act as a blueprint when setting up a project.

So, whether your goal is to reduce the number of useless activities or would like to address overburdened team members, lean project management will help you reduce wasted efforts and become more productive. It’s a win-win!

Want to learn more? Check out the following resources:

The Benefits of Time Blocking

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Time Blocking|The Benefits of Time BlockingTime is one of the most important factors when it comes to business. Too little of it and you rush, anxiety levels increase, and you can miss vital bits of information. Too much of it and you can overwork your ideas or slip into the world of procrastination.

Managing your time will increase productivity and also help you unwind and relax, giving you a healthier work-life balance. It promotes productivity and is particularly useful for people who work remotely or are separated from their team.

One of the most effective ways of creating efficiency in your days, and reaching project deadlines, is time blocking.

The method really is as simple as it sounds. Unlike a timetable, you set your calendar and tasks into dedicated blocks. You are committing a set amount of time to each task. Colour coding will help you differentiate between projects and personal tasks.

Not only does this help you to structure your day, but it can also help your team understand how you are working and structure their time blocking around you too—giving you maximum team productivity.

Every business, small or large, should make time management the foundation of their working day, learning this simple method is the cornerstone of a more successful and productive atmosphere at work or home.
Does time blocking really work?

The simple answer is yes, even the easily distracted among us benefit from time blocking.

Making To-Do lists is a great start. However, most of us will recognize that a to-do list doesn’t always help us manage our time effectively. There are specific tasks that we know should take a couple of hours, but end up taking a full day because we are distracted or interrupted. We also tend to rush through tasks at the end of the day to ensure we complete them, or forget to reply to emails and lose potential business.

Time blocking for remote workers or sole traders is particularly useful for days you have family members around. If your family can see the blocks of time you have set to work on specific projects, they know not to disturb you, giving uninterrupted hours for you to dedicate to the task set.

If you are part of a team in a busy office, the method can be very effective. Sharing your time blocking calendar enables your colleagues to see your timeline and to avoid disrupting you. It’s like a friendly ‘do not disturb’ sign. It will make the whole project management team more dynamic and effective, giving you a positive pathway to your deadlines.

A team of individuals can be hard to manage on group projects. Every person naturally has a different time in their day when they are least, or most, productive. Establishing these times and creating a team time block will help you to get the most out of all team members, leading you to your deadline and allowing for contingencies too.

An important thing to remember is that time is fluid. You should be able to adapt your time blocking to any unexpected issues that arise in your day. The method makes this simple as you can effectively move blocks around the remaining hours of your day.

What are the main benefits?

When a team leader works out how to manage projects successfully, they often will be working on simultaneous project briefs. With time blocking, you are prioritizing the most critical tasks first.

With extended deadlines and a simple to-do list distractions slip in, and workers may be tempted to help a colleague with something or agree to a meeting with a potential new client. The process of time blocking gives accountability and a mini deadline. There is a clear directive, and everyone understands that certain hours will be dedicated just to one task.

Breaking a to-do list into daily, weekly or even monthly time blocks makes sure that those high priority tasks are completed, and everything else comes second.

When you create your team’s time blocks, always add a contingency into the timing. Tight turnarounds can increase pressure on individuals, and while some may thrive on this, others will crumble. The contingency should be a small amount of extra time in each block; up to 30 minutes is usually a good starter.

Another benefit is with fewer distractions comes efficiency. If you are self-managing a time block, then it’s worth switching off all your communications devices, such as your phone or notifications. Team leaders setting high priority tasks could add this to the time block. Suggesting that during individual blocks that all communication devices are set to ‘do not disturb’ this will give even more focus to ensure projects are completed without distraction.

Time blocking is also an excellent tool for setting realistic timelines. It can be easy to be pressured into quick turnarounds on projects. Still, it is better to underpromise and over deliver on time than it is to pressurize your team or set yourself impossible deadlines. The project manager should utilize the method as part of the pitching process, to enable them to know what is possible.

Saying ‘no’ to people isn’t always easy, mainly if it is an important client asking for a quick favour or one of your bosses calling you into a meeting. Having a dedicated time block allows you to turn down any interruptions that could cause a delay in the project while allowing you to see if you could fit it in during the rest of your day or week.

Finally, it sets our reminders on a deadline too. Many businesses are guilty of not completing a quote or a pitch for new work because live projects are getting in the way. Having an effective time blocking system will help remind you to reach out to new or past clients and ensure your after sales are on point, and you are still attracting new clients and projects.

How do I start time blocking?

It’s pretty simple to get started, especially if you are already an avid to-do lister.

The process should start with a simple list of everything you need to get done. You may find it easier to start with a day, or you might prefer to do a whole week or even a month.

Once you have your list set out, you then need to work out the order of priority, which jobs are most urgent, what order is best to do them in.

It’s then time to look at your working day. This will either be the time you are in an office, or if you work from home, you may decide to set your day up into the most productive times. This depends on your personal circumstances. Some remote workers prefer to work early in the morning or late at night.

The high priority jobs need to be allocated first and should happen when you feel you are at your most productive.

Your time blocking should also include moments in your day for rest, including mealtimes or socialization. A typical working day includes trips to the restroom, cups of tea and periods of exercise, by scheduling these into blocks, you will be more productive on your priority tasks. It can also help to leave one hour free, in case any emergencies or revisions come into your day. You can then move around your blocks. While the method does require commitment, it should also be able to move organically to fit with a realistic schedule.

Once you have set up a rough version of your time block, it’s time to move it onto a calendar. There are lots of different ways you can do this, including making your own and printing it out. Having a hard copy helps us access and stick to our tasks much easier. Setting the alarm on each time block will also help you know when its time to move on to the next project.

When you start to add your tasks to the calendar, use a colour-coded system. It helps to have a theme for personal and for work, then different colour selections for high priority and lower priority.

As you get used to working this method, you may find you complete tasks quicker than expected. If this is the case, you should move all your tasks back. You can use any time you have at the end of the day to complete lower priority tasks or to pat yourself on the back and take a well-earned rest.

The more you use time blocking, the more productive you will become. It may seem a little complicated to begin with; however, once you have formed the habit, you’ll make light work of building your projects into time blocks.

So, if you have been struggling with deadlines or managing multiple projects and people, this method is an excellent foundation for driving your business forward, building new strategies and helping guide your workforce and clients towards a healthier working day.

Tips To Improve Your Business and Project Management Skills

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article | Tips To Improve Your Business and Project Management SkillsBusinesses need managers to run successful operations at various levels and across various departments. These managers efficiently plan, manage, supervise, control and monitor business operations. Senior managers need to develop communication, motivational, and leadership skills to further the success of the company. Self-management and time management are also attributes that successful managers display.

If you want a corporate career as a business manager or a project manager, you are aware that meeting and exceeding goals and objectives are key to your success. Efficient project managers and business managers are required to have a set of unique skills that enable them to execute their tasks better and meet deadlines well within time. However, developing these skills is not matter of joke. They need dedication and time on your part and a focused guidance to help you achieve your career goal.

Here are some handy tips to improve your management skills:

Master the art of time management. It makes for a loss as a manager to waste time since time is a limited resource. You just have 24 hours in a day. Time management skills come helpful in optimising time to meet your project deadlines. Allocating jobs skillfully to team members is a key responsibility area of a manager. Displaying good time management is evidence that, as a manager you understand the significance of productivity.

Learn from the past. There will be time in your career when your project will be halted due to unforeseen reasons. This is the time to bring out the best in you to be able to take the right decision. While seeking the advice of your immediate seniors is the obvious choice of many, reviewing successful old projects to understand the current problem better is helpful. This helps to take valuable ideas from the reviewed projects to run the current project efficiently.

Get better at communication. Effective communication with your team member is vital to the progress your project. Talk, hold meetings and respond in time to build confidence in your team through communication. Communication also established transparency among the team and boosts the morale of the team to deliver the project in time.

Set Expectations and Monitor Deliverables

A part of effective communication is also about letting your team members know what is expected of them. It is imperative to set expectations, so that everyone is aware of his responsibility. This helps in the team to follow process and guidelines and deadlines.

While setting responsibilities and expectations, you should keep a watchful eye on the timely delivery of work from your sub-ordinates. Monitor productivity closely on a day to day basis to optimise operations.

A good manager will require to master a number of different skills to progress in his career. Many graduation courses in Business and Project Management are available that help you sharpen your skills. Your online courses with Learning Cloud will offer you a vast array of business management courses that will imbibe managerial skills in you so that you can reach your career milestones earlier than others.

5 Tips for Successful Project Management

StrategyDriven Project Management Article | 5 Tips for Successful Project ManagementProject management in business can be challenging and so hiring someone who knows what they’re doing and having the right tools in place can make a big difference between your project being a success or a flop. Managing a budget, resources, and the team takes some serious organizational skills so if you want your business project to be a success, here are 5 tips to help you along the way.

Making a Solid Plan

Before you can manage a project, there needs to be a set plan in place that identifies the role of every team member and the goals for the project. It should be both clear and short. Having a solid plan for your project provides you with something to measure your success from or to change tactics if what you’re currently doing isn’t working against your plan. Planning ensures clarity for all team members and can help bring you back to the main goals of a project during the busiest times.

Hire a Project Manager

If you don’t already have a project manager in your team, now is the time to get one. A project manager is trained to know how to run projects in the most efficient way. A project manager knows how to choose a team, explore their strengths and weaknesses and use these to deliver a task to each team member. They can work alongside the team to reach the goals of the project and your business. There are countless benefits of hiring a project manager for your business.

Communicate

Within any project, communication is key to avoiding mistakes and to achieve clarity throughout the team, as well as with any clients. Effective communication must take place often between your business and clients, so they are always up-to-date. The project manager should keep in contact with all team members, regularly checking in to ensure they understand their role and are working well towards their deadline. One of the biggest failures within a project is poor communication.

Use a Project Management Software

Project management software is used by companies worldwide and is there to make your project that much easier. Rather than saving file after file and using several communication platforms to speak to team members, project management software allows for everything in one place. The Digital Project Manager has compiled an expert review on the top 10 project management software that is available for your business. Within this, you can check features, price, and usability of each software.

Evaluate

This is one that many businesses forget yet evaluating can make a big difference in how you run your project next time. We cannot improve if we do not evaluate. Use your project as a learning tool. Review what went well and what didn’t and how these mistakes could have been avoided or fixed quickly. Ask team members for their opinions too, as this allows for a total evaluation.

Successful project management is all about clarity and communicating well together. Hiring a project manager will ensure that all your projects are a success.