Typical Pitfalls in Construction Project Management and How to Avoid Them

By: Luz Arceo – Project Manager

While every project has its unique aspects, many functions and requirements remain consistent and are made by default. Managing a project brings the need to identify which activities are to be subjected to certain standards to ensure quality work and to provide uniformity. The demand for foresight is perhaps one of the most important aspects of project management to minimize mistakes and the waste of resources.

However, there can still be a lot of circumstances where things could go wrong. While pitfalls are common in construction, there are ways and risk mitigating strategies to avoid them:

  1. If You Can’t Explain It, The Team Won’t Understand It

A key component to a successful project is starting the project well. Though it may sound like a lot of hard work in the beginning, defining the goal of the project and being clear with the requirements reduces confusion, limits the probability of redesign, and create a launch platform around which your project team can gather. In T1, we create a Design Brief that covers all aspects of a project. This is done in collaboration with the client’s team, taking consideration their specific requirements. Having a Design Brief is a great starting point for a great working experience and a smooth sailing project management.

  1. Get your Ducks in a Row (Perform Due Diligence)

It might surprise you to learn that many projects start well in the beginning, but only to be stalled by the discovery of land ownership issues or zoning problems, or boundary issues, or access issues. We recommend clients to invest in performing a Due Diligence per project to know the scope and limitations, as well as prepare for all the needed documents prior to construction.

Get a reputable geodetic engineer and survey correctly. Make sure you have a trusted engineer with the surveyors to ensure that they cover everything, especially the hard-to-reach areas. Measure surveys against your Title. Check your title certificate: Verify who owns the land; Are they the same entity that is conducting the project? Will this be a signatory issue later? Get a reputable topographic survey and geotechnical survey and make sure all of these are done properly. Make sure survey points tie back to a formal survey reference point and make sure future surveys use the same point of reference. In essence, the Due Diligence should verify that your project can deliver what you need it to deliver without inhibitors. In case there are, due diligence allows you the chance to take necessary measures before it’s too late.

  1. Resource Your Project

When we think about project delivery, we often think about what can be delivered in house and what needs to done external to the organization. In our experience, we often find clients relying on the staff who are very able but perhaps don’t necessarily have the exact skill set required. This is because of various reasons; maybe they have been employed for a different purpose, or there was a mismatch when it comes to expectations of the job.

T1 recommends taking a frank look at your team and deciding whether they can fulfil roles and satisfy the requirements while also carrying out their existing duties. The cost of overburdening or misassigning your in-house team is only likely to appear somewhere around the mid-point of construction. By this time, you may be hearing about cost overruns and delays and wondering why you didn’t bring in a professional team in the first place.

  1. Set your Budget & Program

Set your project budget early and make sure your team understands what the budget is for. Consultants design to price brackets: they know what to put in to meet the rough order of cost. Give them guidance to avoid redesigning but don’t give them all your budget. Keep a bit back for inevitable overruns.

  1. Prepare Your Contracts

If possible, use a standard form of contract for all engagements. A supplier provided contract will be written to protect the supplier, whether that is an engineer, a contractor, or even the project manager. Try to avoid using a different form of agreement with each supplier as it will become very difficult to manage in the long run.

  1. Make Coordination a Priority

If you aren’t using a BIM, then coordination can be a major issue. Consider how the design is released and know if the architect and engineer are releasing their design on the same day, it probably isn’t coordinated and may cause design lapses in the project.

  1. Anyone can Start a Project but not Everyone can Finish it

It seems obvious, but finishing a project isn’t really straightforward. Start thinking about what a finished project means to you and your team. Make sure this is discussed with your team early, to ensure expectations are aligned.

Learn more about how you can manage a construction project better. Contact Lana Kier at lana.kier@kmcmaggroup.com or call us at 0917-860-6400 for a consultation.

Luz Arceo is one of T1’s most trusted project managers. She has been successfully delivering construction projects for over 23 years with various projects throughout the Philippine archipelago.