Join Jim Rogers for an in-depth discussion in this video What does a construction manager do?, part of Construction Management Foundations.
- Part business manager and part building scientist. The construction manager's main goal is to safely deliver a project on time that meets the owner's requirements and is constructed within the projected budget. Now, that might sound pretty straightforward, but when you think back to all of the steps and all of the people involved, this can be a daunting task. Now, I'm going to say that there are three components that make up every construction project, management, engineering, and construction.
In order to ensure success, each one of these components has to be present in all phases of the construction cycle, from concept and design, through building, and even onto commissioning and hand off. Now, these components won't always be present in the same proportions, but it is critical that they all remain present. So, for example, even during the programming phase where design is obviously going to play the biggest role, it's still important for the construction influence to remain in order to ensure that the design is following a path that can be executed later.
Now, the traditional project management body of knowledge discusses a concept called the Project Management Triangle, or the triple constraint, or some people call it the iron triangle. And this concept uses the analogy of a triangle where the traditional three constraints of project management, which are considered to be scope, cost, and schedule, are shown as the three points of that triangle. Now, this analogy illustrates the fact that you can't move one of these constraints without affecting the others, and these three constraints are also often competing constraints.
In other words, increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost. A tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope, and a tight budget could mean increased time and also reduced scope. Now, a project manager working to serve the interests of the owner learns to manage and keep these constraints in balance. Now, I like to use a similar analogy of a three-legged stool to illustrate the three elements that every construction manager needs to manage.
So, a construction manager working for the building team really needs to learn to balance safety, quality, and productivity as they plan and execute the project. These three elements are inextricably linked, and if one is ignored, the others will suffer. Now, I know in years past it used to be common to hear someone in the construction industry tell you that you can only have two of these elements, so pick two and be prepared not to get the other one. I'm going to tell you, years of studies and much progress within our industry have absolutely shown us that this is simply not true.
If all three of these elements are not balanced the project will suffer, and so will the construction company, just like the three-legged stool will topple over if any of the legs are shorter or longer. So, for the construction manager running a building project, that simply means that your job is to manage resources to deliver a properly completed project to the customer on-time, within budget, and without causing harm to any of the people doing the work. Now, managing the safety and health of the people building the project and ensuring they arrive every day to work in an environment in which they will not get harmed helps to ensure that their focus will really be on quality and productivity.
Now likewise, if everyone really understands the expectations for quality on the project, they can work productively at meeting these expectations without wasting time doing extra work or potentially doing re-work that could expose them to risks that weren't present the first time around. Now, I could probably continue with many of these examples and analogies, but let's just stick to the basics and say that as a construction manager it's important for you to strive to manage your resources, particularly the people working on your project at the work phase, building the facility, in a manner that's going to allow them to work productively.
Now remember, a productive work environment is one that allows people to also work safely and produce a quality product. The way to ensure all three of these elements are considered is to pre-plan your activities and tasks, and I can't overemphasize that. One of the mistakes that really gets made in construction is that sometimes we forget that our sites and working conditions are constantly changing. They change from one project site to the next, even though out overall task might be the same. And on a construction site, our conditions can absolutely change from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour as the work progresses and different trades move through the site finishing their work.
So, the job of the construction manager is to recognize these changing conditions and then develop realistic plans for execution that take actual site-specific conditions into account. Too often in our industry, we forget those first three components that I discussed all need to be present and will tend to let the construction component run free without enough influence or help from the management component. So, that gives you a pretty high level idea of what a construction manager needs to understand.
Now, stick with me as we move on and we'll hear a little bit more from construction managers as they tell us how they pull this off on a daily basis.
Whether you're a construction industry veteran looking to switch roles or a brand new construction manager trying to get your bearings, this course provides you with meaningful insights into this vital, evolving industry and your role in it. Instructor Jim Rogers explains how integrated project delivery methods work, how technology is shaking up old processes, and how lean productivity methods are being used at construction sites. Throughout the course, you'll get industry knowledge from Jim, as well as other experienced construction professionals.
- Modern construction industry overview
- The construction team
- Reviewing the many roles of the construction manager
- A day in the life of a construction manager
- Understanding how the industry is organized
- Working with alternative project delivery methods
- Understanding the role of technology in construction