Project Management in the Construction Industry

One of the topics we have been discussing in class is scopes of work. When writing subcontract agreements in the construction industry, writing the various scopes of work for each subcontractor is a critically important task. In general, each subcontract would include what is known as the “boilerplate” agreement, standard contract language that stays the same on every project. Then the scope of work section of the contract agreement is written, specific to the tasks you expect that subcontractor to perform during execution of that individual project. Writing the scope of work effectively tasks a lot of skill and communication, and I’m sure it is the same in many other industries. It is a balance between being too specific and too general. If you write the scope of work too specifically, and you make a mistake or omit an item, you as the general contractor bear the responsibility (and costs associated with it). If you make the scope of work too general, the subcontractor will add cost to his or her price for things you may not want him or her to do, things you may have already purchased from another subcontractor. Creating well-written scopes of work is one of the most important responsibilities of a project manager in the construction industry. Do any of you have experience writing scopes of work in industries other than construction? Do you follow any specific strategies when writing them?

There are numerous tools available to assist a project manager with organizing and managing the numerous tasks required on a large construction project. One important tool that we use is the project plan. Developing a project plan like we discussed in class is not only a good idea but a requirement at my firm. It requires a tremendous amount of work to produce, but it can be an invaluable tool used throughout the life of the project. Some of the items the project manager must determine and then include in our project plans are the project schedule, monthly gross billing projections, general  conditions budgets, project risk analysis, contingency budget, profit analysis, staffing requirements, and many other items. Clearly it takes a lot of effort to create the project plan during the start-up of a project, but it helps organize and present the critical project information in a format that is consistent and comparable throughout the firm. Is creating a similar project plan document used in your firm to manage projects? If so, have you found it useful and worth the effort to create?

While discussing project management in the construction industry, I also wanted to share an exciting new tool that is currently revolutionizing the way commercial construction projects are managed. The tool is called Building Information Modeling, commonly referred to as BIM. The benefits of BIM are limitless and have changed much of the way construction projects are managed. BIM is essentially a computer program that creates a 3D model of the construction documents (blueprints and specifications). Combined with cloud technology, the benefits of BIM modeling are tremendous. Since the tool is not applicable to all industries, I have attached a link to a short video from Devenney Group regarding BIM if you are interested in learning more.

3 thoughts on “Project Management in the Construction Industry

  1. Oh man, I feel like I can relate to this on a personal level. My husband and I just bought a fixer upper. We’ve had to hire out for jobs that are beyond our own skills, the time and communication it takes to establish all of the minute details of work needed and is amazing! Super interesting video, it made me think of the Tarlton Corporation (construction management company) chapter from the book, It’s My Company Too. I believe construction is at the pinnacle of project management.

  2. Interestingly, I thought of a different book while reading this post. The Checklist Manifesto describes how large construction firms use checklists to complete highly complex projects. I would think that those checklists would have to come from these contracts and agreements. Our manufacturing company uses these agreements as well. We call them quotes/estimates. For us, since most of the jobs are a lot simpler than putting up a building, the quote acts a building plan. During this stage we come up with a way of how the part will be build and adhere to it if the price is accepted by the customer. It is interesting to see how such different industries operate by the same set of guidelines. I bet the service industry has something similar.

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