As a stakeholder in a commercial construction project, it’s crucial to understand how contractors stay on track — and that’s with a robust and comprehensive approach to construction project management, something that we can trace back to the ancient Egyptian pyramids: one of the most expensive construction projects on record.
Built around 2500 BC, the pyramids of Giza took around 100,000 laborers and 20 years to complete. The project took 2.3 million blocks of stone that weigh about 2.5 tons apiece. The pharaoh who ordered it wanted the job done before he died, which established a pretty short timeline based on life expectancies. The teams used an ancient version of the organigram, which is a project management chart that defines and delegates roles for everyone in charge.
Other early construction project management examples include The Great Wall of China, the Acropolis in Greece, or the aqueducts of Italy. They all required someone in charge to oversee and manage the work and a process for everyone to follow even if it wasn’t quite yet known as the modern version of project management used today in the construction industry.
At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 20th century, mechanical engineer Frederick Taylor noticed that there was a gap between what factory owners knew and what workers did on the floor. Communication was poor and it was impacting overall productivity, which Taylor worked hard to find a way to change. His research became a book called The Principles of Scientific Management , which included these four foundational points:
- Look at each job or task scientifically to determine the “one best way” to perform the job. This is a change from the previous “rule of thumb” method where workers devised their own ways to do the job.
- Hire the right workers for each job, and train them to work at maximum efficiency.
- Monitor worker performance, and provide instruction and training when needed.
- Divide the work between management and labor so that management can plan and train, and workers can execute the task efficiently.
The Gantt Chart
Mechanical engineer Henry Gantt created a visual tool to help project teams track the schedule and progress of their work. Tasks that were dependent on each other were linked along a timeline, clearly marking which parts of the project were ahead, behind, or right on track when it came to estimated completion.
Gantt charts were so effective that they helped make the Hoover Dam a success. This approach was (and remains to be) popular because understanding Gantt charts doesn’t require special skills or training. This means that every member of a construction project team can clearly understand the visual element.
Critical Path Method (CPM)
In the late 1950s, leaders at the DuPont company were looking for ways to optimize manufacturing schedules and reduce downtime at their plants. Mathematicians Jales Kelley and Morgan Walker published their research, which then became known as CPM — and DuPont saved $1M in costs during the first year they applied this practice. Projects that used this strategy included the Manhattan Project and the construction of the Twin Towers in New York City.
CPM lets construction project managers and stakeholders identify potential delays and setbacks as a project moves forward before they cause downtime, and can help to sound the alarm for the need for resources that can be used to optimize the process. Determining CPM uses several steps:
- List all of the tasks required to complete the project.
- Note the duration of each task.
- Identify task dependencies.
- Identify project milestones.
- Create a list of your project deliverables.
- Assign resources to your project tasks.
Among the long list of construction project management benefits that scheduling software offers include less risk of delays and overruns that drive up costs. It’s also a scalable tool that can be applied to construction projects large or small. Perhaps most importantly, it facilitates better, more streamlined communication among team members.
The right contractor will have the construction project management experience and expertise to meet (and exceed) your clients’ expectations. Our 4th generation award-winning team are experts at staying on time and budget. You get clarity and transparency with us, not chaos and confusion. If you appreciate quality, efficient work instead of the commercial construction roller coaster, contact us today!
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