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Which Management Strategies Add Value to Construction Projects?

Value can be measured in tangibles… and intangibles.

Value added management strategies

In general, value measures benefits gained from goods or services relative to cost. For most of us, good value means getting (at least) our money’s worth. So what does it mean here?

In the construction field, solid strategies in construction management add value that can be measured in terms of reduced costs and time, lower risk and higher quality. Value is enhanced through innovative services that make for better projects and more creative solutions to challenges. Owners can also perceive value on a less tangible, more personal level. An example is when a skillful construction manager serves as the point person whom owners can rely on to act in their best interests. This not only gives the project more stability and security, it significantly reduces owner stress. Peace of mind is invaluable by anyone’s book.

Beginning in the early planning stages, the construction manager will work with the members of the project team to create a carefully conceived and well-defined construction plan (construction best practices). Construction managers (CMs) are responsible for integrating management of design, execution and costs, as well as monitoring progress estimates at design milestones, reviewing document progress and overseeing coordination.

Professional construction managers are all about quality management.

How do we define quality management in construction projects? Quality in construction can be defined as “achieving a completed project that conforms to the intended program and meets or exceeds the owner’s goals.” In principle, the construction manager, owner, architect and design team will establish quality standards early in preconstruction and incorporate them into the project contracts and specifications. Quality standards speak to who is responsible for what, the scope of the work, and which materials and methods will be used. Because the construction manager establishes exceedingly detailed and complete project requirements, there are fewer opportunities for expensive change orders during construction.

I’d rather not spend money on a CM. Do I really need one?

Who makes sure that a construction project is moving forward as planned? Hopefully, everyone involved. But the nature of the construction process is such that there are bound to be surprises, and they’re rarely of the “good news” kind. Many firms don’t manage themselves optimally, let alone assure smooth interplay between project stakeholders, designers, engineers and contractors.

Every project is unique. Locations vary, staff turnover happens, projects are subject to changes and delays, the supply chain is extensive and diverse, numerous companies with different visions, processes and priorities are involved and some team members may fail to deliver on their contractual obligations for whatever reason. Having to correct deficient work is expensive and avoidable. You want to deal with it all on your own? Knock yourself out. But if you want to avoid the headaches, that’s what your construction manager is for. Their project management practices are focused on optimizing value, quality and time.

A good construction manager strategically assesses and balances priorities.

Take bidding. Bidders look for work with minimal risk, particularly in busy markets where many projects compete for their time and attention. A professional construction manager will make your project more attractive to bidders by ensuring that the bid documents are as thorough, complete and clear as possible. The better the documents, the less likely it is that bidders either overestimate risk (and push the price up) or abstain from bidding in order to avoid risk entirely. Did you know that contractors typically have a dozen rolls of drawings on their desks waiting to be looked at? It’s the CM’s job to present your project so that it’s the most appealing.

An experienced construction manager will look to optimize every stage of the project.

He or she will foster a collaborative team environment starting in the early planning stages while the core design team is working to fine tune the project. After they’ve defined the client’s vision, resources and goals, the team then adds additional parameters to the mix, including input from other disciplines. For a project of scale, a construction manager facilitates the whole of this process in order to evaluate options in terms of practicality, constructability and budget. The more exchanges of ideas between the owner and core design team, the more opportunities come to light and the better able the team is to create a mutual understanding of the organizational workflow, align around project goals and work with others to achieve them. A well-defined, optimized project is more likely to meet schedule and cost targets.

Want to accomplish more at less cost? The constructability review presents the best options.

An experienced construction manager will coordinate an early constructability review to evaluate the probability of the design actually being built without incurring additional cost or duration. His or her ongoing value engineering exercises evaluate developing plans for scope, requirements, cost, schedule, involvement, communications needs and so on. Contrary to what some people think, value engineering is not about restricting scope or altering architectural intent under the pretense of a cost reduction strategy. It’s about finding better ways to build without sacrificing the owner’s program or the architect’s design intent. To accomplish this, CMs give the team the means to review potential opportunities and conflicts while there’s still time to incorporate or remedy them: before they can negatively affect the project.

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