A construction project management career can be extremely fulfilling. One of the main reasons is the opportunity to overcome many different challenges on the fly. Here are just a few of the challenges you may face:
Lack of a Clear Plan
Nothing will torpedo a construction project faster than not having a comprehensive plan in place before the job starts. If the goals of the project are not specified — or they are not communicated clearly — the project could be doomed from the start. Without a clear plan, the project could easily fall behind schedule or quickly go over budget. If workers are not given specific milestones to meet, they may not be motivated to get their work done on time.
A lack of a plan can lead to a domino effect of mistakes and other complications. These issues can easily compound to the point that the project falls hopelessly behind schedule. Even worse, it could lead to an accident that causes a serious injury or a fatality. Having a comprehensive plan in place and setting goals can help you avoid potentially catastrophic issues.
No matter how well planned a construction project may be, one thing you will always be able to count on is change. As in life, change is inevitable. This will be the case whether you are in charge of building a commercial structure, a housing development or an infrastructure project such as a bridge or a road.
Construction projects often change in scope due to budgetary reasons. You might find the budget has been reduced due to forces out of your control. Or you may oversee a project that suddenly expands due to an unexpected increase in resources. This is where your communication skills will be put to the test. You will have to quickly explain these changes to both your stakeholders and workers — and do so in a clear, comprehensive manner.
This is one of the challenges that can wreak havoc on a project. The client may suddenly request changes or a design inaccuracy could increase the time allotted for the project. Countless variables can change or go wrong, increasing the cost of the project. Cost overruns concern everyone from carpenters to bankers.
There are a variety of risks inherent in construction. In fact, construction is one of the more dangerous professions. Workers face the potential of severe injury or death daily. As a result, project managers (PMs) must have a keen understanding of all potential safety issues that could arise.
This is yet another area where communication is critical. As a project manager, you will have to spell out each risk and ensure your workers inform you of any unsafe conditions. You will need to get as much input as possible so accidents do not occur; safety issues can quickly mushroom and bring a project to a costly standstill.
Clients will sometimes become impatient with a project’s progress and may apply pressure to change the completion deadline. It’s also possible they may not have a clear idea of what they actually want and could suddenly decide they want something added or ever something completely different. Workers may be forced into cutting corners as a result to meet deadlines and budgets. Morale could suffer, as could workmanship.
This will put a project manager’s ability to advocate for his or her workers to the test. You will need to effectively negotiate with clients and convince them that any superfluous changes are not only detrimental to project deadlines, but will also increase the required amount of time and money.
Proper planning can help PMs avoid these issues. Providing clients with a detailed forecast long before the project starts is key. This forecast should include not only overall goals, but also information on how the project should progress on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
While client changes can cause chaos, indifference can be just as bad. There will be times when a client will “go dark” for days or weeks at a time, which can cause serious problems. You may need to get client approval for an unforeseen complication that will require more money. If you are not able to get in touch with the client, that project will come to a standstill.
Having a clear, well-communicated contingency plan before the project starts helps keep delays to a minimum.
How Earning an MBA in Construction Management Can Help
Earning an MBA in construction management will arm you with the knowledge you need to handle any challenges that might crop up. You will learn risk assessment, cost-benefit analysis, strategic planning and many other skills that make a successful project manager.
Even more importantly, you will learn how to solve problems — how to think on your feet and provide a solution to any issue that arises.
Learn more about Boise State University’s online MBA in Construction Management program.