Managing a construction project is often a series of trade-offs and compromises to keep things moving towards a successful completion.
The three elements of any project are cost, time and scope. These elements provide the most fundamental limits on the project and how it is delivered, and a healthy balance must be found among the three.
If one of these elements is restricted or extended, the other two elements will be affected and so need to be adjusted accordingly, be it increased or reduced.
Finding the right balance of time and cost directly impacts the success or failure of a construction project. These elements need to be tightly controlled in order to keep the progress of the project on track to hit its deadline on budget.
When those responsible for planning the project are creating the schedule, achieving this balance must inform all the decisions they make.
The three key elements of a construction project are cost: the financial constraints of a project, also known as the budget; the scope: the totality of tasks required to fulfil the project’s goals; and time: the schedule for the project to reach completion.
All projects have a finite budget – the owner is willing or able to spend a certain amount of money for delivery of their project. If the project’s budget is low, this will have an impact on the other elements, and the contractor will have to reduce its scope or increase its time.
For harmony to exist between the three elements, there must be a clear understanding at the planning stage that the project scope is realistic, in terms of time and budget, as well as requisite quality standards. This requires ongoing collaboration between stakeholders from the very beginning of a project to ensure that that errors or miscommunications don’t lead to unrealistic scheduling.
If projects are planned poorly from the start, delivering on time and without cost over-runs becomes a fool’s errand. Careful monitoring of processes and costs as the work progresses is crucial to make sure the project is running on budget and on its time schedule.
Construction management software gives stakeholders the tools they need to manage both the technical and financial aspects of a project. It offers greater planning so a schedule will be more realistic and easier to stick to, and it also offers greater insights in real-time so any deviations from the schedule, in terms of cost or time, are easily spotted and ironed out.
A digital platform will help teams track assets, resources, activities and cost, as well as monitor the performance of subcontractors and progress of the entire project. It will also open up greater communication and interaction between suppliers, contractors, sub-contractors, and field workers to collaborate closely with project managers and other stakeholders.
An effective platform can enable a contractor and all stakeholders to input costs, budget changes and other calculations to keep track of a project’s finances, automating the process and removing the need to co-ordinate with every participant or to re-calculate your budget frequently.
Software features such as building information modelling (BIM) offer advanced planning methods, meaning schedules can be executed in the optimum sequence, bringing efficiency to the order that tasks are completed in. It also allows planners to spot problems or clashes before they happen, meaning there are fewer problems on-site to run up costs or cause time delays.
Greater monitoring leads to greater accountability among all stakeholders – subcontractors are less likely to cut corners in terms of the quality of their work, but they are also less likely to drag their heels when they know their performance is being closely tracked and their payment will depend on their sticking to the agreed schedule.
What a digital platform offers is insight and control – those with project oversight are able to see in granular level where costs are running high, and adjust their plans accordingly. Similarly, if one part of the job is running behind schedule and in danger of holding up the whole, this will be immediately observable – decision-makers can then funnel resources to that area and bring it up to speed.
The real-time information flowing in from all aspects of the site allow for greater ability to make adjustments before either time or money are wasted.