The United States continues to increase spending on private construction, making the role of a construction project manager particularly important. Explore the five key life cycle phases in construction project development and see how the latest management software can streamline the phases and help you prepare for a successful project.
Why Are the Life Cycle Phases in a Construction Project Important?
Prior planning is key in any construction project, from small-scale residential remodeling to the most comprehensive industrial facility. An estimated 70% of organizations have at least one yearly project failure, which can be costly mistakes. Many of these can be prevented with thorough project management.
Separating a construction project into distinct phases helps you avoid delays or missed steps. Projects need to follow a strictly sequential order to avoid costly issues. Attempting to break ground before securing the proper permits or signing subcontractor contracts can result in legal issues or significant delays.
Construction Projects That Need Project Management Plans
Construction projects fall under a number of categories. Here are some of the most common that can benefit from construction project development software:
- Heavy construction
The type of construction project you’re planning doesn’t affect the importance of proper planning. Whether you design, bid and build or design and build projects, following a clear life cycle can avoid confusion and common management obstacles.
Larger projects may be more complex and come with more risks if you don’t follow each phase carefully. You can enjoy the same benefits of proper planning, however, whether you’re working on a single bathroom remodel or a multimillion-dollar industrial facility.
What Are the 5 Phases of a Construction Project?
A building project can be broken down into any number of stages or phases, but there are five broad steps that any project should follow. These sequential stages can keep your project moving forward without legal, financial, environmental or safety concerns stalling the process. Here are the five stages of a building project:
The size and scope of the project can affect the length and complexity of each phase, but every project should follow these five sequential stages. Leading construction management software can help you plan out each phase. It can also keep you, stakeholders, subcontractors and other relevant parties on the same page for streamlined communication.
Issues in one phase can delay you from moving on to the next. Failure to finalize one phase can result in costly mistakes if you continue onto the next phase without approval. Review each step in the process to see how to successfully navigate the process and how management software can help.
1. Initiate the Project
Launching a construction project is an exciting and busy time. This phase in the process typically involves at least three distinct components:
- Feasibility studies
- Contractual agreements
- Schematic design
The feasibility study determines whether the architect, construction manager and owner are in agreement and the proposed solution is in alignment with the objectives of the project. It takes into account diverse factors like budget, design, location and construction schedule.
Failure to perform a feasibility study could result in a project that doesn’t meet its intended needs. This study can also highlight objectives that will be difficult or impractical to achieve in the proposed project. A successful feasibility study culminates in a project initiation document.
Contractual agreements delineate the specific roles and requirements of everyone involved in the process. They’re essential for avoiding liability and ensuring a safe, mutually beneficial project.
Finally, schematic designs take the project initiation document and breathe life into it. Sketches can include the materials, designs, textures and colors used in the finished structure.
Without careful planning, a project could start out with a poor design or unfeasible objective. Project managers can utilize innovative software to share documents, sign contractual agreements and monitor the progress of this phase.
2. Pre-Construction Process Steps
The pre-construction process gathers contractors and stakeholders to prepare to implement the construction project. Before breaking ground, teams must coordinate to ensure that the plans meet a number of requirements.
Typically, this phase involves the contractor administrator, field engineer, project manager, superintendent and health and safety manager. This team of managers and engineers needs to prepare the construction project and complete the following steps:
- Obtain permits
- Examine the construction site
- Perform soil testing and other environmental issue tests, if necessary
- Create a health and safety plan
- Submit reports and plans to relevant authorities
- Create cost estimates
- Organize the team
These steps help avoid any delays in the project. Permits vary depending on the location and scope of the project. Local authorities must review and approve of the proposed project before any construction can begin.
Environmental concerns can delay or completely prevent the construction. Soil tests may be required with the permits before the project can be approved.
In some cases, the pre-construction phase also includes legal services. Lawyers may be necessary to review any conflicts of interest in the project that could become liabilities.
Cost estimates are the final step in the pre-construction phase and often culminate in a legally binding contract between the owner and the project manager. The cost estimation process is critical to the feasibility and profitability of the process, and construction software can play a major role in this step. Modern software allows you to calculate labor costs, input material costs and create an estimate for the entire project.
3. Procurement Stage of a Building Project
The procurement phase of the construction project life cycle involves purchasing materials, obtaining equipment and coordinating workers. Depending on the scale of the project and the size of your team, this may be the step where you reach out to subcontractors and accept bids on the project.
One of the main goals in the procurement phase is to purchase materials and organize workers at or below project estimates. Efficiency is also key since any delays in shipping, equipment procurement or hiring can delay the construction phase.
Thankfully, software for construction managers can improve communication in the procurement process. Transparent ordering, shipping and hiring processes can reduce the risk of unexpected costs and delays. You may not be able to guarantee you’ll procure materials and equipment below estimates, but you can stay alert to any difficulty in the process and react accordingly.
Cutting-edge software can also avoid overlaps in spending. Some projects go over budget due to material waste. Managing your purchases can help reduce excess expenses.
4. Construction Phase
The fourth phase in a project life cycle is when the actual excavation, renovation or construction begins. This phase is dominated by contractors and subcontractors performing daily duties to get the project off the ground.
As a construction project manager, this means you spend your time coordinating schedules, reviewing work and responding to questions in the process. You may not be the center of attention during this phase, but your managerial role is critical to keep the process on schedule and on budget.
Mismanaging schedules is a common issue during this phase. Whether you’re working with a couple of subcontractors or dozens, all those schedules and tasks need to be carefully coordinated.
On top of organizing schedules and avoiding delays, you may also be responsible for paying your contractors. Timely payments keep your team moving and happy, while delays in payments could prevent you from establishing long-term relationships with the same contractors.
The right construction software takes the stress out of calling contractors and requesting information from subcontractors. Manage schedules, send out alerts and automate payments with the same intuitive platform. Specialized software allows you to convey information and receive updates on your project from all relevant parties.
The fifth and final phase starts when the physical construction project is complete. Contractors and subcontractors clock out and head on to other projects, but you still have a few essential tasks to complete as a project manager. Here are the most common tasks during the post-construction phase:
- Tour of the project
- Create and deliver a punch list
- Return equipment rentals
The tour of a project is your personal inspection to verify the project is up to the quality you expect. This can be with the client or within your team. The tour may be a formality but often results in a punch list of areas that need improvement.
You must then reach out to subcontractors to finish the job. The punch list may include minor repairs or it could cover major oversights in the process. This list needs to be finalized before subcontractors can move on to other projects and equipment can be returned.
Finalizing rental documents and contracts can be almost as busy as completing them in the first place. Document management software helps you identify rental due dates, monitor contractual obligations and help sign off on contracts with your client and subcontractors.
What Are Common Construction Management Plan Obstacles?
A construction project comes with many hurdles. Regardless of the scope of the project, you’ll likely face one or more of these challenges as you coordinate contractors:
- Over- or under-budgeting
- OSHA violations
- Permit and environmental report issues
- Delays in procurement
Any of these issues can arise throughout the five phases of a project. From initiation to post-construction, you need to carefully manage resources and communicate clearly to avoid excessive project constraints.
Minor obstacles can be expected as part of any process, but major obstacles can seriously affect your relationship with your client and/or subcontractors. Explore the ways dedicated management software can help you overcome these hurdles and successfully navigate your next project.
How Can Management Software Benefit Your Projects?
Of all the tools in your project manager toolbox, one of the most important for efficient project completion may be your management software. Dynamic software offers the following benefits to help you leap over construction obstacles and successfully coordinate one or more projects at a time. Review these benefits of modern construction software solutions for your company.
Clear communication makes the entire process less stressful. Project managers are at the hub of a sprawling communication network that includes the following individuals and organizations:
- Zoning boards
- Equipment rental companies
- Environmental organizations
Project management software increases team communication by an estimated 55%. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the number of messages you need to send and receive, use a synchronized communications platform to keep everyone on the same page.
Electronic Document Signing
All projects require documents to be signed by several parties. Large projects include dozens of contracts and other legal documents. Management software streamlines this process with safe, secure electronic signature support. Track documents and receive real-time status reports for peace of mind.
Protect forms and important documents using password protection and two-factor authentication. State-of-the-art software gives you access to these security features to protect your documents from unauthorized access. Role-based permissions ensure only relevant parties receive access to critical contracts.
Many tasks can be automated throughout the life cycle of a project. Modern construction company software allows you to manage tasks and automate workflows in modular, configurable ways. This not only saves you time and money but also prevents tasks from slipping through the cracks.
How Can Fluix Improve the Project Management Steps in Construction?
It’s time to improve your project management capabilities with the latest software. Get started with the Fluix workflow management platform to streamline your tasks. Explore automation, security and communication support with these dynamic software solutions for your industry.