I am a civil engineer by profession and having experience of almost 32 years in the industry. Most of my experience is in the Middle East with A-class contractors and has completed prestigious projects i.e. Royal Palaces, Military Hospital, Five Star Hotels, and High Rise Buildings.
In 2011 while working in Dubai, I met with the owner of one Delhi-based Real estate company and he convinced me that now it is the right time to move back to India and do something for the construction industry in India with Middle East experience.
Initially, I was reluctant to start my new inning as a civil engineer in India due to the experience of my few colleagues who could not fit into the Indian culture of the construction industry due to so many reasons. And the main reason that I understood that it is not construction practice in India but their family issues which were not supporting their decisions.
They used to live in a well-protected and clean environment in the Middle East but when they moved back to India, most of the friends settled their families in their native small cities where all the facilities are not available as in big cities. Burger culture is not everywhere here for the kids which is a favourite destination for them in other countries.
Coming back to my topic which is “Best Construction Management Practices”. In my opinion, the best practice followed by any leader is the one when he gets success in any assignment within the allocated time frame and budget. I have come across so many articles on this topic but cannot be applied to all the practices as a thumb rule for all.
Since I am a civil engineer, let me elaborate on construction projects. As per my experience, the most important management of any good Project head is to take the project’s timeline very seriously from the very first day of the project. People get relaxed during the early stage of the project and don’t bother about delays and cannot anticipate its impact during the final stage of the project.
No project gets delayed at the eleventh hour but we become so desperate to meet the deadline and thus resulting in taking unwanted decisions and sometimes even compromising on the quality of the end product. Therefore, as good construction managers, we should make sure that all the approvals of drawings, end-user requirements, material approvals, and procurement are streamlined on time.
The most important thing is the coordination of all the trades with each other before the first fix which is the provisions for all services in the concrete work. “It is often said that a wrong decision taken at the right time is better than the right decision taken at the wrong time.”
The role of any good manager is to keep his team motivated all the time to ensure the project is completed to a high quality on time. All the technical information should be shared from top to bottom even among junior most staff at the site.
Before discussing any new practice in the construction industry, I want to raise my concern about the alarming trend of compromise on product quality. Due to overrun on budget, negative cash flow, high salaries, and changes during the construction phase, owners of the project have started looking for cheap options for finishing material, and service equipment which ends up in high maintenance costs in the long run.
I have personally experienced this situation where we had to change material specifications at a very advanced stage of the project. That delays the project while selecting new material and its procurement due to changed specifications which are usually not available in bulk with the vendors.
I also want to draw attention that it is also a very common practice among developers to utilize funds from one project to start new projects. They buy new properties to increase their land bank which affects the progress of ongoing projects, especially during the finishing stage.
It is a very wrong perception being circulated by developers to their customers that once the structure work is finished, the project is near its completion. Not many customers understand that after structure work, it takes almost one and a half times the same duration to complete finishing and other works if it moves as per the project schedule.
But usually, it goes much beyond its original completion dates and that’s the reason we can see so many projects along any highway with complete structure but no blocks, finishes, or façade work.
The other most common practice nowadays adopted by developers is to award the contract on a lump-sum basis to safeguard against any cost escalation during the construction phase. They also put the clause that even if building material cost increases up to 10% during the construction period, there will be no claim from the contractor side.
In this situation to minimize losses, sometimes contractors also compromise on quality by using cheap formwork material, less experienced staff, and not following proper work sequence for the best result.
Nowadays, so many new practices are being implemented to run projects on time and within budget. In my opinion, the best practice for any good manager is to monitor the project schedule at the micro-level. Use whatever new software, system, or template but the best tool to track any project is its progress monitoring at regular intervals.
Resolving the technical issues, as early as possible, is the best remedy. Sometimes, higher management does not check project reports on a regular basis and by the time, they wake up, the dent has already been done.
Another important factor is to keep close track of the funds & cash flow. Maintaining better waste management is also a key figure in project profitability. Usually, we don’t give too much importance to wastage, housekeeping, and site safety which make big difference at the end of the project.
Maintaining a risk register also plays a vital role in avoiding any loss in ongoing and upcoming projects. The risk assessment is an activity that has to be monitored on a regular basis without any excuse and that also needs some financial allowance.
The availability of BIM (Building Information Modeling)software is technically the most useful tool to coordinate and organize the project to avoid mistakes during the construction phase. Fundamentally, the purpose of BIM is to ensure that appropriate information is created in a suitable format at the right time so that better decisions can be made throughout the design, construction, and operation of built assets.
Though a lot of things can be written on best practices the most important among all is to keep a good relationship and trust with your team who are the real executor of the project.