Most Common Construction Management Challenges and Why they Occur


The construction industry is a big and mighty industry with a huge contribution to the world economy. As a major contributor, the construction industry has a significant impact on the US economy as well. In fact, the construction industry has more than 733,000 employers with over 7 million employees and generates approximately $1.4 trillion in revenue each year.

But what is construction management? Basically, construction management is the process of construction project management, involving the process of starting, planning, decision making, controlling, coordinating, motivating, and leading. Without construction management, nothing good will come out of the project no matter how experienced the experts are. The process is not free from challenges that construction managers have to face daily. The issues vary from basic ones that are easy to solve to simply back-breaking ones that become real headaches. Let’s discuss the biggest challenges faced by construction managers below.

Construction Management Challenges

Construction managers have a crucial role in construction procedures. They serve as a link between the on-site construction team and the client, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. They also ensure that the final product of a building project satisfies the client’s expectations making sure the projects are finished on schedule and on budget. Some construction managers are in charge of many projects at the same time, such as the construction of different residential buildings making multitasking a must-have skill for them.

As the construction managers are in charge of organizing the process and teams, they face construction management challenges of different caliber along the way on daily basis. In this article, we will discuss the construction management challenges with the highest influence on work success. For instance, workplace communication statistics show that 86% of employees and executives cite the lack of effective collaboration and communication as the main causes for workplace failures. On the other hand, teams who communicate effectively may increase their productivity by as much as 25%.

Construction Management Issues

Below let’s look into the biggest construction management challenges: 

Poor Communication In Construction Management

Communication is the key in many aspects of life including construction management, as, without clear communication, important tasks may be overlooked resulting in project failure. In fact, around 57% of projects fail because the communication wasn’t up to standard and there was not enough transparency on the client or project team’s end. For effective communication, managers need to work on their communication skills to set up proper communication channels with the team, stakeholders, and clients. This will help avoid hugely damaging issues such as falling behind on project completion. 

Communicating stakeholders’ initial expectations and feedback as well as keeping successful contact between subcontractors and clients are the main areas where communication fails resulting in huge project fallbacks. Below we will discuss them in more depth. 

  • Stakeholders’ Initial Expectations

It sometimes happens that lack of information or knowledge about construction leads to stakeholders having unrealistic or unachievable expectations. If those expectations are not managed by the construction manager in the initial stage, they may lead to: 

  • Disagreements between the team and stakeholders
  • Performance issues resulting in delays
  • Poor prioritization with unclear goals and poorly defined objectives
  • Insufficient risk management

It is the construction manager’s task to communicate achievable and realistic expectations to the stakeholders.  The most important part of managing expectations is understanding them and engaging the stakeholders in the planning procedures. Construction managers have to understand what the stakeholders are expecting to get with the completed project. After fully grasping stakeholder expectations, it is also important to be transparent and clear on which expectations the team won’t be able to meet to avoid further construction management challenges.

After communicating and setting expectations, they should be documented, so as to manage any confusions that might happen later on. 

  • Stakeholder Feedback and Change orders during the Project

Stakeholder participation is important in the construction management process as a lack of constructive feedback may influence the number of delays and reworks that would be necessary to complete the project successfully. As leaders, it is the responsibility of the construction manager to set communication with the stakeholders in a way that the team receives regular feedback from them. Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings with the stakeholders would be a great way to discuss the project progress and receive feedback. 

It is also a good idea to use software that will help maintain full oversight over the construction project. By using construction management software, everyone in the chain of management can request necessary information and receive it in a timely manner, always staying on top of the project. It will make it easier for the stakeholders to provide constructive feedback, resulting in a decreased amount of potential problems and necessary reworks.

  • The Communicative Gap between Subs and Clients 

When employing subcontractors for the project construction project managers and general constructors serve as a link between the subs and clients. While subcontractors are busy doing their job without constant communication and feedback from the clients, project details might not get shared which will negatively affect productivity, timeline, and budget. That is why it is the duty of the construction project manager and general constructors to communicate every single client’s need and project requirement to the subs in the smallest details.

The best way to deal with the situation is to create an implementation plan. The plan should include defined goals and deadlines, tasks, and responsible people for the tasks. After communicating the plan with the subs, construction managers should take steps to make sure the message is understood. If the message is not understood, there is a good chance it will result in construction management challenges in the future. 

To fill in the communication gap between subs and clients during the project, the construction project manager needs to conduct regular meetings providing feedback and sharing any new objectives there might be from the client. And to keep the consistency of communication flow, construction project management software can also be implemented allowing them to receive real-time updates that help to stay on top of the game. Some construction management software even comes with an integrated messenger that helps to streamline business communication and always stay in touch. 

Responsibility and Accountability of construction workers

Responsibility and Accountability

Accountability is a surprisingly big problem in construction management: teams don’t always have the feeling of accountability for the project and its successful compilation. Lack of accountability and responsibility within the team is not about laziness or maliciousness. It might be because the team members have too many responsibilities and too little time. Or it might be because team members are not aware of what the overall goal is. To build accountability and responsibility within team members the construction managers need to be clear on tasks and who those tasks are assigned to. 

It is also important to show the team how their tasks align with the overall project goals. The team also should be provided constant check-in to assess progress and performance. In such a way each member would have a chance to find out what areas they succeed in and what areas could use improvement feel accountable. 

Hence, poorly defined goals, the unclear scope of the project, project delays, and risk management problems are some of the main reasons for the low level of responsibility and accountability in construction management. These are the areas that construction managers need to keep a close eye on for successful project compilation: 

  • Poorly defined Objectives

Poorly defined objectives are a huge construction management challenge as, without defined goals for the projects, it is nearly impossible to lead the team, assign the right tasks and carry out successful time management. Poorly defined goals can also cause misunderstandings and issues between stakeholders and the team. 

To resolve the issue of poorly defined goals construction managers should be in constant contact with the stakeholders. Asking questions to stakeholders at the beginning of a project, receiving constant feedback, and taking it into account as well as keeping them involved during the whole process will help construction managers keep the eye on the goal. Another useful tip is to break down bigger goals into smaller targets. This way construction managers can keep the whole project up and running.

  • Unclear Scope of the Project 

The unclear scope of the project is a result of poorly defined goals. These types of projects are usually either over budget or over schedule. It is the construction manager’s role to communicate with stakeholders about the scope of the project and plan the construction procedures accordingly. They should also touch upon important factors like possible delays or budget increases that may be the result of untimely resolved issues. 

  • Project Delays 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of risk and uncertainty in construction projects making delays unavoidable. Stuff caused by faulty work, scheduling issues, and workplace accidents frequently lead to increased delays and costs. To avoid this construction management challenge, construction project managers should evaluate the situation make further scheduling decisions accordingly. The best method to cope with project delays is to implement project scheduling and tracking tools to guarantee that everything is running smoothly. Also, the project should be closely watched to identify any flaws, faults, or process challenges that could cause additional delays before the issues actually occur.

  • Risk Management Problems
Aging Workforce in construction

Many people might not realize how big and costly risks in the construction industry may be. Challenges of risk management in construction also involve hazard management. This is why risk and hazard management are crucial and need to be taken care of. It is critical for construction management to collect information and develop mitigation strategies ahead of time. It is also important to make sure the workers’ safety on the site is taken care of as a priority. Construction managers need to recognize and take care of possible risk and hazard issues before they can become the reason for schedule overruns or budget rise. Be those unreliable subcontractors, scheduling issues, or changes in overall project goals, construction managers need to make sure they have contingency plans.

Aging Workforce and Skills Shortage 

The labor force issue has been a humongous construction management challenge since the late 2000s. And it has been becoming a harder task through the years to find skilled workers to hire and retain. To date, about one-fifth of all vacancies in the construction sector are hard to fill because employers cannot find staff with the right skills, qualifications, or experience. The demand is forecast to rise even further.  

The skill shortage in the construction industry is a result of losing out to other sectors where they offer more stable work with more competitive pay.  Not only is there a lack of young professionals, but a lot of skilled construction specialists are soon to retire. Many construction workers aged between 50-60 are retiring leaving the industry lacking trained and skilled employees. And the rate of retirement looks set to increase as 22% of the workforce are over 50, and 15% are in their 60s. 

Basically, the aging workforce and low interest in the construction career of young people have resulted in a skills crisis. Lack of skillful professionals in its turn results in decreased productivity levels in the construction team.

Challenges in Construction management caused by COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak has affected nearly all aspects of life and all sectors of the economy. While some industries have been able to manage the damages or even profit from the situation, things have definitely changed for the construction industry.  

Protecting workers from COVID-19

When it comes to the construction industry, coronavirus has brought financial, legal and team management challenges to construction projects. The material supply process has gotten more complicated as many times the supplies are ordered from different parts of the country or even from abroad. And because of closed borders, there are a lot of delays in procedures and supply delivery. These types of delays are resulting in additional costs and time. The best solution has become to shop locally for supplies. 

Protecting workers from COVID-19 in project sites is another construction management challenge. Construction workers are at risk as most of their work is done on project sites. On the project sites, some tasks require collaboration and teamwork making social distancing impossible and putting contractors’ lives at risk. In these cases, construction managers need to reorganize tasks in a way that fewer people are required to be within a given area. Construction managers also need to take care of personal protective equipment on the site, making sure it is consistently used. Teams can also go for remote collaboration for activities such as engineering, team meetings, and management tasks. To have successful remote collaborations and improved scheduling, construction teams can try using software that is created for the construction industry. By using construction management software they can eliminate the need for face-to-face meetings, use messenger to stay in touch, and receive their tasks without the need for personal interaction. 

 Conclusion

Construction is a huge and complicated industry that continues to expand. Construction management challenges are growing in tandem with the industry’s growth and the Covid-19 challenges. Every day on the job site brings new obstacles of different caliber for construction managers to face and overcome. Construction managers need to not only manage time, schedule, and organize the job on the site, but they must also keep an eye on the team to ensure that everyone knows what they are supposed to do and to resolve any issues that may emerge. Luckily, with the tech transformation the industry goes through with the help of construction management software, it has been getting significantly easier to manage the chaos that is a construction project.

What other issues do construction managers face in the current day of age?