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August 8, 2015

Construction Project Management Part II: Elements of a Successful Project

In the Construction Project Management Series #1 article, we closed by citing the Project Management Institute’s definition of project management. Just in case you missed it, the definition is, “Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” In addition to the definition, you should be aware that all projects share four important objectives. These are:

Deliver the project as definedDeliver the defined project quality requirementsDeliver it on timeDeliver it under or on budget

Although the possibility of failure is always present, a good project manager should be focused on meeting the project’s objectives. To ensure a project is successful, there are several elements and practices that should be put in place. The more of these the project manager can put into practice, the higher the likelihood the project will be successful.

People Matter

Personnel at Vertex think people really matter. In essence, every business organization is a for-profit social organization that provides some product or service to other people. A project can be seen as a “short-lived social organization” with the objective of meeting some business need. Successful projects typically are lead by a project manager with sound leadership skills. A leader is not only well instructed in management techniques, but he/she is a person who keeps the focus on the goal, develops respectful relationships among the team, is flexible, creative, communicates effectively with all the stakeholders, and develops trust and team esprit de corp. Of course, it is helpful for the project manager to possess good project management and general business skills and knowledge.

The project team should possess the right skills and knowledge for its assigned activities. A solid team starts with selecting people with the appropriate training, knowledge and skills for the assignment. Once the team has been selected, it should develop a good general understanding of the project and be in agreement on the outcome of the project. This will ensure the team is marching in the same direction and at the same cadence. In other words, team selection and cohesiveness is critical.

A Clear and Concise Plan

As mentioned earlier, a team without a plan is a plan for failure. A well-defined, documented and realistic project plan is imperative for success. This will help the team understand the scope, time and resource constraints of the project. These factors will become the baseline to measure project success. If any of these constraints change, for whatever reason, then the documented plan can be adjusted to reflect the changes. This will ensure the final project is measured against the final plan.

Project Management Tools and Techniques

The last set of success factors is the knowledge and application of project management techniques and tools. Project management techniques include activities such as understanding project phases, having some expertise in planning, budgeting, scheduling, evaluating risk, activities monitoring, progress reporting, change control, scope creep, etc. Project tools are critical, too. Tools these days are typically software applications like project breakdown and scheduling software, document control, reporting software, etc. At Vertex, we use two different project management software applications depending upon the size and scope of the project.

The next article in this series will address the traditional project phases.

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