A Brief Introduction to Construction Project Management

Construction management is a broader concept that deals with various aspects from project conceptualization to completion. It includes project scope, planning, assessing project risks, organizing multiple activities, controlling initiatives, scheduling, and implementing effective strategies and tools to achieve repeatable success throughout the system. There is an essential link between clients’ expectations and acceptance of a completed project. A project management company is supposed to ensure an uninterrupted and smooth transfer of a project from the design process to the completion of a project.

A project life cycle involves four stages which include planning, execution, and delivery. Project stages play a critical role in providing better control and management. A project usually starts gradually, touches the peak and then declines to final delivery of the project to the client. What follows are some of the basic construction project management activities:

Resourcing

A project manager can use bar charts to resource the project. This simple way of resourcing can help plan a logical breakdown of activities for the project and the expected time required to complete these activities. Each activity demands a different set of resources which needs to be identified. Materials, labor, subcontractor, and equipment are some of the fundamental resources required to carry out a construction project. We can adjust the chart bar by moving different activities back and forth in time to reduce the quantity of a resource required to streamline the requirements for that resource.

Material Ordering

The bar chart can help a contractor identify when a material is needed for a project and order it accordingly. Delivering a project on time is of supreme significance. Therefore, it is important to consider the delivery time when a material is ordered. This systematic approach reduces storage costs and decreases the chances of spoiling, shrinkage, and a material being damaged.

Contingency plan

Some projects can get complicated as not everything on site goes as per planning or expectations. Events like heavy rain, injuries, and absence of employees due to sickness can affect the flow of work leading to delays and pressure on the managers. The inclusion of an appropriate amount of slack time can allow a contractor to deal with contingencies. Slack time or float can be treated as a separate activity. However, float is often included in the activities themselves, adding more time than anticipated to get the work done.

Risk management

Construction is a complicated and challenging process which drives contractors to interpret and ensure compliance with codes, laws, regulations, etc. Communication and coordination among stakeholders may highlight differing interests, purposes, and expectations. Risk, therefore, should be considered as an important component of a project.

An Introduction to the Scientific Theory of Management

Scientific management theory was proposed by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the first decade of the 20th century, is the first coherent theory of administration. According to this theory the same principles of management can be applied to all social entities. The governing policies for our homes, farms, state, business, and church, have the same underlying principles. It emphasized on improvements in the lower level of the company rather than at top management. It aimed at studying the relationship between the physical nature of work and the physiological nature of the workmen. It stressed upon specialization, predictability, technical competence and rationality for improving the organizational efficiency and economy.

PRINCIPLES

Taylor gave the following four principles which according to him can be used universally:

-Construct a science for each element of a man’s work.

-Scientifically select, train, teach and develop workmen.

-Management should fully cooperate with workers.

-The division of work and responsibility between management and the workers must be shared equally.

Scientific management, according to Taylor, involves a complete mental revolution on the part of workers towards their duties, work, fellow men and their employers; and on the part of managers, towards their employees and their problems.

TECHNIQUES

The techniques of scientific management facilitate the application of principles of scientific management mentioned below:

FUNCTIONAL FOREMANSHIP: Under this, a worker is supervised and guided by eight functional foremen. Four of these are responsible for planning viz. Order-of-work-and-route-clerk, Instruction-card clerk, Time-and-cost clerk, Shop Clerk. The other four are responsible for execution and serve on shop floor namely, Gang boss, speed boss, inspector and Repair boss.

MOTION STUDY: It involves the observation of all the motions comprised in a particular job and then determination of best set of motions.

TIME STUDY: It is used to determine the standard time for completion of work.

DIFFRENTIAL PIECE RATE PLAN: Under this plan, a worker is paid a low piece rate up to a standard, a large bonus at the standard and a higher piece rate above the standard.

EXCEPTION PRINCIPLE: It involves setting up a large daily task by the management, with reward for achieving targets and penalty for not meeting it.

CRITICISM/OPPOSITION

Scientific management came to be criticized and opposed by various sections for the following reasons:

-It was concentrated on the shop floor. It did not stress on the higher levels of management.

-It was criticized as a mechanistic theory of organization as it neglected the human side of the organization. It treated worker as a machine and sought to make it as efficient as machine itself.

-It was criticized on the ground that it underestimated and oversimplified human motivation by explaining human motivation in terms of monetary aspects only.

-It was also opposed by the managers due to two reasons. First, they would lose their judgment and discretion due to the adoption of scientific methods. Second, their work and responsibilities increases under Taylorism.