Whether you’re a large-scale residential or commercial developer or an independent remodeling contractor, project management is an always-on, constantly-evolving, time-consuming challenge that must be managed on a daily basis to keep projects on track. While larger contractors may have sophisticated tools, systems, and staff to help monitor project progress, all contractors should aim to be better at project management since it makes you look better customer-facing, and saves you time in the long run. We’ve gathered some simple tips for improving your project management process. Let us know if you find these tips helpful!
Monitor Your Project With Tools
Keeping a notebook or file folder in the truck is helpful for paper trail, but is it easily searchable and can it be viewed and managed by multiple people in the organization at once? We recommend selecting a tool as simple or as complex as your project requires. A simple Google Doc spreadsheet may be adequate for a small construction firm to keep track of supplies, subcontractors, and billing, or you can step up to something like Smartsheet.com or Trello.com to enable alerts and assign tasks to team members. Of course, there are numerous software vendors with solutions designed to help large construction firms with dedicated project managers and complex project schedules. The main takeaway here is adopting an appropriate level of technology can make your projects run that much smoother.
Have A Communication Protocol or Plan
We’ve all been there—as the contractor on site you are spending the majority of your day on the phone back and forth handling small details. You’ll never escape a certain amount of calls, but you can certainly reduce the “noise” by establishing channels of communication. It could be as simple as asking subs and suppliers to fax or email their invoices rather than calling you with a total, and requesting approval/feedback from clients in an email as a digital record of the decision.
Even if you are the only person who will see the reports, having a regularly-scheduled report show up in your inbox with a summary of project progress is extremely valuable. The visual can be Green-Yellow-Red for individual tasks, or an “up next” detail allowing you to be a proactive project manager. Of course, this tip is contingent on what tool you’re using for project management, so select one with this in mind.
Construction projects are a fluid environment: everything from supply delay to weather, to sub contractor scheduling conflicts will impact your ability to deliver the project on time and on budget. This is an area where an online tool and automated reports will help keep tabs on remaining tasks so planning can occur days or even weeks in advance rather than rely on last-minute calls to subs to step in.