How to Make Sure Your Construction Project Stays On Schedule


A surprising number of construction projects either fail, struggle to meet milestones or go over budgets or deadlines. Construction organizations can get projects completed better, faster and cheaper by following the project management tools and techniques below.

Clear Milestones
Frequent project milestones keep things on track because they are highly visible. The best way to track milestones is through traditional methods, such as office whiteboards, and digital methods, such as project management software. These programs will ensure that construction project managers consistently review and follow up on approaching and overdue tasks. Each milestone should have an associated level of risk and backup plan that ensures it’s achieved on time and within budget. Be aware that only setting long-term or import milestones is ineffective. Instead, schedule multiple, small project benchmarks to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Project milestones ensure that money, time and energy being invested in a construction project are being efficiently used and that project goals are being reached.

One of the most useful construction project management advice is that consistent results only come through consistent oversight. The best project managers are always busy and focused because they realize that constant task execution, follow up and issue resolution are hard work. “When construction projects do run into problems, the root causes can usually be traced back to inconsistency mistakes,” said Ace/Avant. For example, it’s often apparent that certain tasks are not going to be completed on time or even started. Instead of giving up, consistently use each failure or roadblock to create innate value through performing a root cause analysis. On the other hand, some construction project managers only focus on the execution phase of the project because finishing is most important. Even if the high priority deliverables are delivered, continually procrastinating on receiving approval and existing the project will waste time and money.

Ask for Assistance
Most construction project managers naturally feel that asking for help is a weakness. While it is one of the more difficult things to do in any profession, project managers who indicate that they need help ensure that serious issues are addressed. Project managers who ignore or try to downplay the seriousness of certain issues, such as budget constraints, will face even bigger problems down the road. Instead, managers who indicate that they need help will improve communication, minimize risks and create new opportunities for collaboration and problem solving. It’s also a great way to boost morale and confidence, such as when external professionals lend a hand to resolve previously unsolvable problems. This will save time in the long run because staff and managers can move onto other tasks and focus their energy on accomplishing goals.

Conflict Resolution
Construction project conflicts are a natural part of the process, but they need innovation, cooperation, compromise and professional governance. A project group’s speed and agility are seriously undermined when conflict isn’t properly resolved. There should be a clear structure and process for conflict resolution. For example, employees should first seek to solve the problem directly with the source. This will eliminate the burden of supervisors having to jump into problems that should have been solved at the lowest possible level. When it comes to supervisor or vendor conflicts, management should get involved in order to clearly establish root causes and focus on solutions. New technology and project management approaches mean that project managers should be able to monitor small conflicts before they get out of hand and create actual delays or disagreements

As a final note, every construction project should include a master plan that details the project’s overview, objectives, scope, risks, approaches and organization. This will allow the project management team to create efficient budgets, schedules and assignments. This master document should be regularly reviewed and updated if necessary. Learn more about the basic principles of project management at the Project Management Institute’s website here.