When overseeing a property development or construction project, managing and maintaining productivity is of crucial importance. Most projects operate according to strict time schedules; delays cost money and negatively affect key players across the supply chain.
When a construction project loses momentum in one area it inevitably leads to delays in another; for example, if the bare shell of a building is not completed on time, plumbers, electricians, painters and decorators expecting to start work will have to be put off. As many construction workers are self-employed, they may have difficulty rearranging their schedules, so the knock-on effect can be devastating. Similarly, if a delivery of materials does not arrive on time crucial elements of the project may be delayed, resulting in a knock-on effect that can take weeks to overcome.
What causes productivity to lag in construction projects?
There are a number of key factors that can hinder productivity on a construction project; these include an unskilled or under motivated labour force; this covers not only various tradespeople, such as builders, plumbers and electricians, but also architects and project managers. Other common issues relate to the supply chain, building permits, lack of compliance with local regulations and cash flow.
The project manager’s areas of responsibility
Ensuring that all these elements work in unison is a complex job, which is why it is always recommended that a competent and experienced project manager should be employed to oversee all medium to large development and construction projects. A skilled project manager (PM) understands the way all these factors hang together and will ensure that all permit requests, for example, are submitted well in advance; that the correct quantity of materials have been ordered; that the goods delivered to site are correct and free of defects or omissions, and that the budget is realistic and being complied with.
Managing a diverse workforce
Any construction project will inevitably involve having a range of tradespeople and labourers on site simultaneously. Subcontractors will directly employ some while others may be self-employed; the salaries and wages paid will be equally wide ranging and terms of employment and pay structures will vary considerably. The project manager must manage this diverse collection of workers and is likely to be called upon to settle disagreements between them. The PM must ensure that all employees are on site when expected and that mandatory health and safety and working environment guidelines; from the wearing of hard hats in designated areas to not being allowed on site when in a state of intoxication, are strictly complied with.
The use of drugs and alcohol while working on a construction site not only affects productivity, it also endangers the life of the employee in question, and those around him or her. Being on site while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol is in direct contravention of UK Health and Safety regulations. Therefore, ensuring it does not happen should always be considered a priority. Fortunately, there are simple and non-invasive procedures available, such as oral fluid testing, which is a quick and efficient way of ascertaining if a particular individual has consumed alcohol or drugs.
Project managers have to be jacks of all trades; one day they may be called upon to attend a meeting with the site owner to discuss budget over runs and the next they may be up to their armpits in mud helping to free a broken down JCB. Whatever the challenge a good project manager will do everything in his or her power to ensure the construction project is completed on time and to budget.