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 745,000 employers with over 7.6 million employees and generates approximately $1.4 trillion in revenue each year.
Still, more recent statistics show an unexpected decrease in the Construction Industry’s contributions to the US GDP. As compared to the previous years, the industry has been at 3.90%, which is much lower than the average of 4.07% in the previous years.
This decrease in the contribution is attributed to the various construction management challenges it has faced for a long time. As construction management has strict rules and regulations that need to be followed, these challenges can create serious problems in the overall process.
But what is construction management? Basically, construction management is construction project management, involving the process of managing a project from its planning and design phases to its completion. Construction managers and engineers are employees responsible for coordinating all activities related to the construction of a project.
Without proper construction management, nothing good will come out of the project, no matter how experienced your employees are. The process is not free from the challenges that construction managers face daily. The issues vary from basic ones that are easy to solve to 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 ensuring the projects are finished on schedule and within the estimated 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 an important corporate responsibility and a way to ensure quality, construction management involves the coordination of many elements, including project design and planning, budgeting and scheduling, labor tracking and coordination, site safety, materials management, and quality control. Due to such an immersive scope of responsibilities, project managers often face construction management challenges of a different caliber. Delegating and managing these tasks can become challenging task if there is an absence of proper planning and collaboration.
This article will discuss the most common construction management challenges with the greatest influence on work success. While some may be more common than others, all of these challenges can lead to significant delays and cost overruns.
Poor Communication In Construction Management
Workplace communication statistics show that 86% of employees and executives cite the lack of effective collaboration and communication as the main cause of workplace failures. On the other hand, teams who communicate effectively may increase their productivity by as much as 25%.
Communication is the key to many aspects of life, including construction management. As so many elements are involved in a construction project, communication and collaboration among everyone involved are essential. Overlooking clear communication may result in misunderstandings between team members and clients, as well as delay or even fail the whole project.
Around 57% of projects fail because the communication wasn’t up to standard and there was insufficient transparency on the client or project team’s end. For effective communication, managers must 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 a lack of information or knowledge about construction leads to stakeholders having unrealistic or unachievable expectations. If the construction manager does not manage those expectations 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 and budgeting
- A final product failing to meet the expectations of the stakeholders
These issues can become a huge challenge for the construction manager, leading to costly and time-consuming problems.
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 must understand what the stakeholders look forward to receiving with the completed project. After fully grasping stakeholder expectations, it is also essential to be transparent and clear on which points the team won’t be able to meet to avoid further construction management challenges.
After communicating and setting expectations, document the data to manage any confusions that might happen later on.
Stakeholder Feedback and Change Orders During the Project
Project stakeholders should always get involved in the process of construction management. Their feedback is essential for understanding and meeting their expectations. However, stakeholders should never interfere with day-to-day management and decision-making.
Involving the stakeholders in the process leads to better communication and understanding between them and the team, resulting in a higher-quality final product. 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 construction manager’s responsibility to communicate with the stakeholders so that the team receives regular feedback from them. Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings with them would be a great way to discuss the project’s progress and receive feedback.
Having a construction project management solution that will help maintain full oversight over the project will guarantee that all stakeholders are getting up-to-date updates and provide clear feedback on a regular basis. With advanced software, everyone in the management chain can request necessary information and receive it promptly, always staying on top of the project updates. It will make it easier for the stakeholders to provide constructive feedback, resulting in decreased potential problems and necessary reworks.
While most businesses understand the importance of construction project management, investing in a software solution to manage financial reporting is often overlooked. With Buildern’s advanced Financial Tools, businesses can now easily make informed decisions on their projects and create accurate financial reporting which will save them time, money and give a competitive edge for smoother communication.
For instance, composing work-in-progress reports may be challenging for companies lacking a proper project management solution. Buildern is the right software for those looking for a real-time overview of the current financial situation.
Moreover, providing detailed WIP reports will show a company’s proficiency and grow its reliability in the eyes of stakeholders.
The Communication Gap Between Subs and Clients
Project managers and general constructors connect the subs and clients. While subcontractors are busy doing their job without constant communication and client feedback, project details might not be shared. This may negatively affect productivity, timeline, and the estimated budget. Thus, the construction project managers’ and general constructors’ duty is to communicate every client’s needs and requirements to the subs in minor detail.
The best way to deal with the situation is to create an implementation plan. Consider including a detailed timeline, budgeting, and resource allocation. Also, don’t forget to mention the defined goals, deadlines, tasks, and responsible people.
A company will probably open bid requests based on the client’s initial request and use it as the basis for evaluating subcontractors. Viewing bidding as the initial communication of the client’s needs and ideas to the subs.
Buildern’s Bidding Module allows you to create and manage multiple requests for bids. This module allows you to establish detailed specifications, select the most suitable subcontractor, and monitor the work progress. By using the feature, construction companies can rest assured that all the participants are on the same page and work together towards a common goal.
After communicating the plan with the subs, construction managers should ensure 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, provide feedback, and share any new objectives from the client. To maintain the consistency of communication flow, construction project management software allows them to receive real-time updates that help them stay on top of the game.
Responsibility and Accountability
Accountability is a surprisingly big problem in construction management. It is the project manager’s responsibility to assign tasks and ensure everyone involved in the project understands their roles and responsibility. However, when teams don’t always feel accountable for the project and its successful compilation, many problems may come to the surface. Still, the lack of accountability and responsibility within the team is not about laziness or maliciousness. Sometimes, employees may be overloaded with tasks and have too little time for delegation. Clear communication and assigning responsibilities to the right people can significantly reduce potential issues. To build accountability and responsibility among team members, the construction managers need to be clear on tasks and to whom those tasks are assigned.
Show the team how their tasks align with the overall project goals. The team also should be provided with 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 and feel accountable.
Another tip is to employ Buildern’s advanced Scheduling and Team Management tools to assign tasks and keep track of the team’s productivity. Being able to view tasks, plan for deadlines and manage resources will help project managers stay on top of the project’s progress.
Also, the platform allows construction project managers to define and assign roles and permissions to specific team members. This is a great way to keep everyone organized. When everyone knows their responsibility scope and boundaries, they are more likely to follow them and feel accountable for their tasks.
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. Without clear goals for the projects, it is nearly impossible to lead the team, assign the right tasks and carry out successful time management. This 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. This may include:
- Asking questions to stakeholders at the beginning of a project
- Opting for feedback and taking it into account
- Keeping them involved during the whole process
- Periodically sending them project updates and reports
Another helpful tip is to break down bigger goals into smaller targets. This way, construction managers can keep the whole project up and running. Smaller chunks will help project managers in task delegation, resource management, and assigning deadlines.
Unclear Project Scopes
Unclear scopes may be a result of poorly defined goals. Such projects are usually either over budget or over schedule. It is the construction manager’s role to communicate with stakeholders about the project’s scope and plan the construction procedures accordingly. They should also touch upon essential factors like possible delays or budget increases that may result from untimely resolved issues.
When construction manager knows the potential risks and can plan, they can adequately manage resources and assign tasks to team members. Clear communication and reporting on progress can help to reduce the negative impact of a project’s scope.
Unfortunately, construction projects have a lot of risk and uncertainty, making delays unavoidable. Stuff caused by faulty work, scheduling issues, and workplace accidents frequently leads to increased delays and costs. To avoid this construction management challenge, construction project managers should evaluate the situation and 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, consider watching the project’s progress closely to identify any flaws, faults, or process challenges that could cause additional delays before the issues actually occur.
While over a quarter of projects are delivered over 250 days late, construction is a complex process, and project delays are an inevitable part of it. Managers should be prepared to take on these challenges with effective strategies and tools like Buildern to help ensure timely project delivery.
Risk Management Problems
Many people might not realize how big and costly the risks in the construction industry may be. Challenges of risk management in construction also involve hazard management. That said, underestimating the potential risks associated with a project can have dire consequences.
Suppose a business fails to properly assess the risks associated with a project. It has a pre-agreed budget and an estimation of the resources it will use. If anything goes wrong or a company fails to consider risk, it can run into long-term financial issues and reputation damage.
To prevent this, construction project managers should create a reliable risk management plan that allows them to identify potential hazards from the start. 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 rises. Be those unreliable subcontractors, scheduling issues, or changes in overall project goals, construction managers need to ensure they have contingency plans.
Aging Workforce and Skills Shortage
Labor force shortage is a critical construction management challenge as the US industry had a need to attract over 650,000 new workers in 2022 alone to meet the existing market demand. This is alerting, as the aging workforce of the industry is making it harder to find enough skilled workers.
Moreover, often people interested in this job lack the necessary industry skills and experience. This is why construction companies need to invest in the development of their workforce and create attractive career paths for potential employees. Today, 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 is 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 Caused by COVID-19
Although the Coronavirus outbreak was over 4 years ago, the world still feels its destroying consequences. The pandemic has caused supply chain disruption, work stoppages, and other challenges to various industries.
The 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.
When it comes to the construction industry, coronavirus has brought financial, legal and team management challenges to construction projects. The material supply process is more complicated as companies have had to source materials from further away due to local supply shortages. Moreover, due to closed borders, there were many 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.
While the global outbreak is almost over, protecting workers and investing in safety measures is still paramount. That’s why construction managers should develop COVID-19 protocols that address evolving health requirements as the outbreak continues.
Moreover, companies should prepare for potential fluctuations in the prices of materials and supplies, as demand is increasing globally. To prevent those, construction companies should form agreements with suppliers that guarantee the availability of resources.
Protecting workers from COVID-19 in project sites is another construction management challenges that may reoccur anytime. Construction workers are at risk as most of their work happens 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 interact within a given area.
Construction managers also need to take care of personal protective equipment on the site, ensuring it is consistently used. Teams can also collaborate remotely for activities such as engineering, team meetings, and management tasks. To have successful remote collaborations and improved scheduling, construction teams can try using software 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.
Construction is a huge and complicated industry in constant expansion and needs to keep up with the changing world. With many challenges and risks associated with it, construction project managers should aim to stay on top of their game and leverage the latest technologies and practices to ensure successful projects with minimal disruption.
By developing effective risk management plans, investing in workforce development, adjusting protocols to the ever-changing situation, and forming agreements with suppliers, construction companies can prepare for unexpected events and face any risk head-on.
As construction management challenges are growing in tandem with the industry’s growth and the Covid-19 challenges, staying cautious is the only way to success.
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 is going through with the help of construction management software, it has been getting significantly easier to manage the chaos.