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Construction Project Management

101 Checklist
Construction project management has become a modern valuable skill. In-depth technical
insight, tools, software, techniques and knowledge are required to deliver today’s complex
and quality building projects. Managing complex data in intersecting tasks and teams include
confirming a project’s justification, developing project schedules and goals, maintaining
commitments for a project, holding people accountable, and avoiding common project
pitfalls. Additionally, the basics and essentials of budgeting, finance, organisation,
scheduling, conflicts, and legal issues are also covered by the project manager. In order to
execute said complexities in the ever-changing construction work environment, a
construction project manager has to have a set of skills and abilities to manage multiple
projects and teams.

Construction Management 101

Technically, the Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as “the art
of directing and coordinating human and material resources throughout the life of a project by
using modern management techniques to achieve predetermined objectives of scope, cost,
time, quality, and participating objectives.” For the definition of a construction project
management, it’s basically PMI’s definition in the construction context. It encompasses all
the planning, coordination, processes and controls over the myriad of tasks involved in a
construction project. And it can be any type of construction project — residential,
commercial, institutional, industrial, civil, agricultural, or environmental. Managing a
construction project is a complicated role dealing with complex tasks that get modified from
project to project. A construction project manager has to be skilled in communication and
knowledgeable in building processes and problem-solving.

The Construction Project Manager

Construction project managers make sure that a project is going according to plan. They
oversee that projects get built on time and budget and according to specifications and
building regulations. Included in their job description are but not limited to specifying scopes,
budgets, and schedules, choosing subcontractors and workers, developing communication
strategies between shareholders, and resolving conflicts. Construction management
certification bodies have identified 120 responsibilities of a construction manager and they
have categorised them into seven categories:
 Project management planning
 Cost management
 Time management
 Quality management
 Contract administration
 Safety management
 Construction management practice
After the completion of the design phase, a bidding process takes place that allows the
construction project manager to assign contractors to a project. The selection process
involves any of these three common methods: low-bid selection, best-value selection, or
qualifications-based selection. Contractors handle decision-making, math, drawing, human
resources, public safety, time and cost management, and quality management.

The Basics
Construction project management is not a simple job — a construction project manager has to
be knowledgeable in finance, mediation, law, and other disciplines.
A construction management project starts with a project owner sharing project information to
contractors and subcontractors in order to solicit bids. Contractors and subcontractors give
project owners their cost estimates for the project to be completed. This may be open
(inviting all contractors) or closed (inviting only a select number of contractors).
Once the project owner receives all the bids, a contractor is then selected based on the lowest
bid, best qualifications, or of best value to the company. After that, payment contracts can
then be agreed upon and could be lump sum (the most common contract), cost-plus-fee,
guaranteed maximum price, or unit price.
The bidding process remains the same with different types of construction project. The
business models, though, are of two forms — it’s either design, bid, build where the project
owner chooses a contractor after the design phase or design-build where both design and
construction phases are done by one contractor.

The Process
The construction phase begins once the bidding process has been completed. There are
differences in the phases of a construction project when compared to traditional project
management, however, the same principles are followed. The Project Management Institute
has developed five phases of managing a project that all construction project managers
should be aware of.

1. Initiation
At the start of any project, a business case must be created and evaluated to ascertain the
feasibility of the project. Stakeholders then perform feasibility testing accordingly. Once
feasibility is determined and all stakeholders and parties agree to advance the project, a
project charter or project initiation document (PID) is then created, which includes the
business case and the business needs.
2. Planning
Following initiation, the project team creates a roadmap — the project management plan
(PMP), a formal document that outlines the project’s execution and control. The PMP also
archives baselines for scope, cost, and schedule. Aside from the PMP, the planning phase also
includes the creation of the following documents:
 Scope statement and documentation, which establishes the busin ess need, benefits, objectives,
deliverables, and key milestones.
 Work breakdown structure, which visually represents the scope breakdown into manageable
 Communication plan, which defines communication roles, tools and methods in achieving
communication goals and objectives. As there are different teams with different communication
styles involved, the communication plan outlines a basic framework to put everyone on the same
and avoid disagreements or conflicts.
 Risk management plan, which identifies possible risks like nonviable time and cost estimates,
budget cuts, regulation changes, etc.

3. Execution
All work begins in this phase. After the kickoff, the project team assigns task and activities to
befit stakeholders — allocate resources, execute plans, structure tracking systems, update the
project schedule, and refine the project plan.
4. Performance and Monitoring
As the execution phase starts, so does the monitoring phase. As the project advances,
building progress and performance are measured to see to it that everything is going
according to the project management plan.

5. Closure
The last phase is project completion. A post-mortem meeting is usually carried out to assess
what went well and what didn’t. The team then generates a punch list of unfinished tasks,
calculates the final budget, and creates a final project report.

The Construction Project Management Checklist

For beginners in construction project management, here is a basic checklist for most
reasonable size construction projects:

 Does the brief cover the purpose of the project, the scope of work, and does it identify any
relevant documents driving the project (e.g. master plan, education brief)?
 Did all relevant stakeholders provide appropriate input into the development of the brief?
 Did the client and stakeholders sign off on the project brief?
 Are all works needed to complete the project listed with a clear understanding of who undertakes
tasks and jobs, including all items to be obtained by the client?
 Are all project requirements (brief, budget, timeframes, project team standards) ready for
 Are constraints and conditions that will impact project delivery identified?

 What project procurement method (e.g. lump sum, cost-plus-fee, guaranteed maximum price, or
unit price) was selected?
 Has the selection of architectural, engineering, and other required consultants been managed?
 Are all required disciplines and specialist advisers in cluded in the project team?
 Are all appropriate contracts executed between clients and consultants?
 Are all contract progress payments to consultants being processed?
 Did the client and stakeholders provide requirements and timing of materials and services , and
are they built into the project programs?
 Are feasibility study reports, sketch drawings, and working drawings completed, coordinated,
checked, and signed off at appropriate times?
 Are tender calls, tender recommendations and contractor engagement pr ocesses managed
 Are all contract documents signed?
 Are site inspection requirements from consultants met and are appropriate instructions given to
contractors following site meetings and inspections?
 Are variations and contract instructions made on a timely basis?
 Are project completion and hand-over process managed well?
 Are dispute resolutions, contract defaults, and liquidations supervised properly?

 Are cost estimates and project budget reviewed and managed accordingly?
 Have cost issues been flagged early and discussed with all stakeholders?
 Are variations and extension of time expenditure checked?
 Are contract payments to contractors processed on time?
 Are strategies to maintain the project budget when cost pressure arise intact?

 Are client quality standards well articulated and understood by the consultants?
 Are the quality standards required by the consultants and contractors being followed?

 Are all project risks identified and are there preparation plans to address them?

 Has the project team established a project program and are key strategic activities identified?
 Is the project program monitored and updated per required and are timely provisions of materials
and services from other parties flagged?
 When delays are evident, are strategies to maintain the project program in place?

 Are there consultative mechanisms (project meetings and reporting processes) all throughout
the construction process?
 Have approval mechanisms for various sign off requirements with appropriate authority been
established and well managed?
 Are government and statutory approvals checked, archived, and managed properly?
 Are meeting minutes reported to the appropriate stakeholders?
 Are regular progress reports on project issues (costs relative to budget, progress relative to
project plan) prepared periodically?
 Did all team members understand their roles and responsibilities and ensure their ongoing

The function of the construction project manager is a recent specialist role which gives a
valued advantage to a construction project. It’s the project manager who makes the decisions
in assigning who undertakes each activity in the checklist and makes sure that the clients’
interests are maintained. Revisit related articles on the 10 key responsibilities of a
construction project manager and what are the modern characteristics of a skilled
construction project manager. Complement this construction management checklist with
a free downloadable ebook on increasing efficiency and productivity on the construction