The workload that comes along with managing a construction project is extensive to say the least. The knowledge and skill set the individual needs takes years of experience to cultivate in addition to a high threshold for stress. A good project manager (PM) should have the technical skills/knowledge, the communication and leadership skills to delegate to a crew of people, and business management and strategy skills. A PM needs to actively have a big picture mindset as well as a hands on, risk mitigating mentality. Most are responsible for obtaining building and city permits, hiring and managing a qualified labor crew, communicating clearly and consistently with the labor crew as well as the hiring company, estimating time and cost of a job and developing a budget, working with vendors to obtain supplies, ensuring that a job is worked up to code from start to finish, etc. With so many responsibilities, it is important to have systems set up that can help guide a PM to success.
In order for everyone to know what their responsibilities are and what is expected of them, hired labor crews should at the very least start and end their day with contact with their project manager. Most likely, there will be more contact throughout the day, probably in person, but in order for the PM to have a certain level of accountability not only with them, but also to his or her hired company/stakeholders/etc, this contact needs to be consistent and thorough. An open line of communication facilitates a culture of trust and transparency that is necessary for these jobs to run smoothly. The ability to upload and share information is very useful to help allow this to happen, so an account for a data sharing site like google drive or drop box can really come in handy, especially paired with commonly used devices that can offer real time, 360 degree views of a site.
Know the Plan, but be Flexible
A project manager should know the ins and outs of a job well before it begins. They should have ready access to plans that can be referred to and thorough knowledge of the job site before the work begins and also what the site will be upon completion. This thorough knowledge of the environment and the plan will come in handy when issues inevitably arise. It is almost impossible to control every factor that might come into play and affect the work process. There are a lot of moving parts ranging from plumbing to electrical, to scaffolding, to carpentry. As issues arise, it is important to be flexible in order to account for all of these systems to successfully work together. Sometimes, this might call for a design change or a refined timeline. This, again, would bring us back to our first point of having clear communication as any shifts or changes need to be clearly communicated and justified to the powers that be.
While this might seem like a given, it is important to understand what is at stake in this job title. A project manager is responsible for the entirety of a job from start to finish. With so many people being managed and depended on, at the end of the day, it falls on the shoulder of the PM. Every person that is hired and every direction that is given must be owned solely by the PM, for better or worse. Again, this is where the need for complete transparency comes into play. Often times, companies have hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars wrapped up in the completion of a project, and they are trusting the PM to be responsible for the finished product. There are decisions that must be made throughout the process that have to be made decisively, quickly, and with the confidence that he or she is able to own the outcome of that decision. This confidence, the ability to communicate well, and thorough preparedness is key for a dependable, successful, and effective project manager.