Well, the academic definition of a successful construction project we were given is:-
A project which finishes on time, to budget and to accepted standards.”
– so there you go : time, budget and standards.
However, as soon as the few of us mature, experienced construction professionals in the class started chatting among ourselves as to how we achieved those criteria, the academics shut up and listened avidly to what we had to say.
“Swan around in a suit and tie and look important”. “Kick ar*es and be the bad guy”. “Be nice to everyone”. “Easy innit, us lot do it and we’re der-brains”. – A bit of construction Grunt like that had the academics drooling with excitement! Then we got serious about it all.
The very first thing needed for a successful construction project is to get absolutely everyone involved, from the Client to the Site Labourer feeling that they are involved in a Team! That way everyone wants the same thing; success! My usual first approach to that was at the very first Site Meeting we had on a project:-
“We’re going to do this my way, because I say so! – But first I’d like for us all to discuss it so I can decide what my way will be.”
That simple approach established the pecking order but also had a very distinct advantage. It got serious input from subbies which high-lighted possible obstacles long before I would otherwise have picked up on them. That meant they could often be eliminated before they arose! It also meant the subbies knew they were regarded as important to the project. The other one who liked it very much was the Client’s PM, someone who usually had no knowledge of construction.
Speaking of the Client, one very important person to try and establish good relationships with is the Client’s Director who has over-sight of the project. Hiccups, intransigence or major changes? That is the person who will over-ride all others and give instant decisions that you request.
The next thing necessary for success are the project records; the paper trail. Now it is simple phycology; if everyone knows that the paper trail is comprehensive and it is easy to turn up records, they make sure everything they do is good and on time. If they fail, they know the finger of blame will point at them and they will be the ones losing a lot of money on the project! Now dealing with and storing all the project paperwork used to be a time-consuming and expensive nightmare; it isn’t any of those anymore!
Just use GenieBelt for the project! That way everything is stored in the Cloud; everyone knows everything instantly and everyone keeps focused on the project to make it successful!
Finally, let’s get to that “suit, tie and swanning around” bit. What that really means is that it is vital, for a successful project, to get out there and talk with the skilled tradesmen. Compliment their good work and try to become friends with them. If they come to trust the “Big Boss” and conclude that you are on the same side as them, you are on a definite winner! First thing is that, because they know that you are looking at their work, they’ll make sure you have few faults to find in it. More importantly, though, these are the guys who will become aware of any threatening build problems long before anyone else would do. Be their mate and they’ll tell you. That alone can save days or, sometimes, even weeks on the programme!
Getting back to the academic “blether” of “suit and tie”, what this requires are “subtle senior management skills”. That just means that the management, particularly Site and Project Managers have to make themselves accessible and approachable for everyone else, tradesmen particularly, to come to with any problems or concerns they have.
Which just leaves one final requirement for a successful construction project:-
The Site and Project Managers have to be up to the job! The harsh reality is that most of the projects I have walked onto in a project turnaround role have been in a right old state because of poor management!