By Richard Sappe
Construction is a complicated undertaking that requires a high degree of planning and coordination to bring various elements together successfully. Many building owners and developers lack in-house construction-management experience and familiarity with construction project-management systems. Owners that construct only a limited number of buildings (e.g. their headquarters) can benefit by implementing a good construction project-management solution that provides value to them, their construction management (CM) firm, and their contractors.
One of the major challenges facing owners and developers is the need to effectively communicate with numerous parties during all phases of a project. Because each stakeholder may use their own preferred tools or systems to capture and share information, efficient collaboration can be problematic. In addition, changes are inevitable and often impossible to predict. If not properly managed, change can significantly add to a project's total cost and/or place it behind schedule. Project management becomes reactive, making it extremely difficult to mitigate cost and risk. To avoid the arduous (and sometimes litigious) claims process, all stakeholders - including owners need good visibility into their projects to avoid surprises and conflict.
Owners and developers need a common platform for project personnel to collaborate. Regardless of the role or function, an integrated construction-management solution puts everyone on the same page in terms of how they share information and dramatically improves the efficiency of communication.
Changes to construction plans, although inevitable, can also be managed within the framework of a construction project-management solution. Contractors, subcontractors, engineers, and owners can codify an efficient process for submitting, approving, and tracking changes. By doing this, accountability is ensured, costs are controlled, and everyone involved gains visibility into the project's progress. Owners and developers can use these solutions to plan for different scenarios, prepare for the unexpected, or enable value engineering to deliver a better product.
Given the dynamic nature of construction projects, owners and developers need to stay informed at all times. Success depends on the ability to make a quick decision; by having current project information at their fingertips, owners are provided with the data necessary to make proactive - albeit difficult - decisions for both short- and long-term project timelines.
By implementing a strong project-management solution, building owners and developers can not only mitigate risk, but also work more proactively in a collaborative environment with construction service providers toward successful project completion.
Richard Sappe is engineering and construction industry market manager at Bala Cynwyd, PA-based Primavera Systems Inc. (www.primavera.com).