Rethinking Construction Management

Dwayne Parkinson
Jul 7, 2022 10:02:53 AM

Over the past few years we've been working closely with a number of companies in the construction industry. While each organization specializes in a different type of construction with very unique processes, they all have some underlying common traits that are leading to their success and those traits revolve around their desire to rethink how they manage their construction projects. 

The first thing these companies have in common is that as they've grown and they've started looking for innovative ways to outperform the competition outside of the job site. They are looking beyond merely delivering completed projects on time and on budget. The process of delivering a project with high quality processes is now a focus as well. Every "transaction" that occurs whether it's a load of aggregate being delivered, setting up erosion mitigation measures, installing a window or even answering an e-mail or phone call is seen as part of a larger process which is rolled into a quality program. The result is to not only deliver a completed project but ultimately improve the reputation of the organization within the industry. The focus has shifted to recognize the importance of effectively managing communications, documentation and dates as part of delivering a high quality project.
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Another thing these companies have in common is that they started their journey by feeling a bit trapped within their own processes. There are very smart and motivated people within each of the organizations who know that things can be improved and have visions of where they want to take their organizations, however getting from where they are to where they want to be is complex. The process of  figuring out how to mold the entire organization around a vision is often overwhelming and not readily apparent. Of course they have looked at off the shelf software to help solve these issues but they have quickly discovered that a one size fits all approach is expensive, time consuming, risky and ultimately quite limiting to their vision. The feeling of being stuck and frustrated with their current situation is often what drives these organizations to seek out a better path forward.

The final thing that these organizations have in common is that they have chosen to take a conservative, multi phase approach to improvement where cost savings from one phase are used to fund later phases. Beyond taking a pragmatic approach to funding, the multi-phase approach provides these organizations the ability to learn how to change processes within their organization and more importantly it gives them a chance to figure out exactly how much change the organization can absorb at any time. It's important to remember that while the organizations are quite skilled at performing the daily transactions that run the business,  changing processes takes an additional amount of effort and dedication. Often there just aren't enough resources to do the daily work and change any significant number of processes at the same time.  

Rethinking construction management for these organizations ultimately means thinking about their organizational processes as a series of transactions and developing a plan to improve both the processes and the transactions within each process. Developing the plan starts with a foundational understanding that each activity in a highly successful organization is planned, organized and ultimately executed. Everything from managing bids, through getting contracts signed, managing design and engineering, placing orders, delivery, inspection, implementation and quality checks all become transactions which are closely monitored and closely linked. 

All of the processes and tightly related transactions within the organization are analyzed and a starting point is chosen to implement "Phase 1."  Often the starting point is not something that will make the biggest change for the organization, but something that will lay a decent foundation and have the most immediate impact. Ultimately each process will be analyzed and each transaction will become part of a much larger vision to deliver a quality result in everything the organization does. Those high quality transactions feed future data analysis and the results of the data analysis often drive more change throughout the organization. That cycle of improvement and analysis leading to more improvement creates a long term advantage for the organization.

To help these organizations realize their visions and think about construction as a series of processes containing high quality repeatable transactions, TEAM IM has developed and implemented our Construction Management and Inspection solutions for them. As they gradually phase in their long term visions for each process across the entire organization, the solutions from TEAM IM link together to provide additional functionality and a tightly integrated solution. Unlike traditional off the shelf software, the TEAM IM solutions have been designed from the ground up to be flexible and configurable to fit the processes that make each organization unique while also supporting a phased approach to implementation which minimizes risk and cost.

As you develop a vision for your construction management organization, be sure to  consider what has worked well for others within the industry. Think about the organization as processes and transactions, manage change by making incremental improvements and leverage software that molds to fit your processes rather than forcing your processes into a black box that effectively eliminates your strategic advantages.

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