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Construction Project Management
Project management in construction of a dwelling is an important factor in ensuring successful completion of the project. Construction project management is the general control, coordination, and planning of the project from inception to completion. It is designed to satisfy the requirements of the clients in order to generate a financial sustainable and functionally viable project (Maylor 2010, p. 24). The manager is responsible for ensuring that a construction project is completed within the required time. The management must also utilize tools, equipment, materials, and locations in construction project. The costruction management is also involved in genegrating project plans and objectives including choosing project participants, setting performance needs, scheduling, budgeting, and delineation of scope (Graham 2006, p. 11). In addition, through procurement of equipment, materials, and labor the manager ensures maximum efficiency of resources. They are also involved in execution of different operations via proper control and coordination of estimating, designing, planning, construction, and contracting in the general process (Auti & Skitmore 2008, p. 21). Furthermore, project managers participate in establishing mechanisms and communications for resolving disagreements. Most importantly, construction manager has several major responsibilities which include quality, time, cost, planning, contract, and safety management (Harris, McCaffer & Edum-Fotwe 2006, p. 25). These require good leadership skills.
Leadership style is one of the critical factors that determines the success of project managers. It is usually a skill that is often disregarded because it is hard to measure the leadership style of a person. By utilizing these styles and their effects, a project manager can become a successful project leader (Senaratne & Sexton 2008, p. 25). In this respect, a project manager needs to determine the most suitable leadership style for every project team. Moreover, he or she should assess the correct leadership style depending on the requirements of the project and project team (Pinto, & Morris 2004, p. 29). Decision-making styles such as consensus, democratic, laissez faire, and autocratic characters are critical leadership styles in management of construction project. Through consensus, a manager is able to solve problems and make right decisions in a team based on the group agreement (Maylor 2010, p. 33). Unlike in democracy where the leader take a vote, in consensus they lead discussions and uses the team positions to make appropriate decisions.
The leadership style is applicable where the virtual teams meet irregularly. Democratic approach allows ideas from the construction teams in the process of making decisions (Cadle & Yeates 2007, p. 13). It is also known as participative or consultative. The style leads to good decisions but minority views are left discontented. It is crucial that the project management consider the minority voters to make sure that they commit to the outcome although they disagree with decisions. However, a project manager should first consult the primary stakeholders before holding a vote by the people. Most notably, it ensures that the vote suitably focuses the issues at hand and all parties are involved (Gould & Joyce 2000, p. 9). Laissez faire means ‘leave it be’. It applies hands-off policy and the team is generally self-led concerning the process of making a decision.
Nevertheless, members of a less mature team may lead to lack of interest or involvement by the project manager. Autocratc leader makes decisions without inputs (Auti & Skitmore 2008, p. 27). However the leadership style is rarely recommended, unless the project manager clearly understands more concerning the subject matter or has immature and inexperienced members of his team (Lock 2004, p. 7). A project manager who utilizes an autocratic style outside a “life or death situation” project needs to re-evaluate his or her entire motivation and methodology.
Activity management styles such as directive, bureaucratic, coaching, empowering, facilitating, and supporting are essential leadership skills (Maylor 2010, p. 33). A directive project manager tells others what to do. However, the style is rarely used as the project manager needs to be very diplomatic and utilizes a personal authority style that will not segregate team members. It is applicable in case of immature team members or in a very critical time-critical project. It is not preferable since it does not permit adequate feedback and development of the project team (Lester & Lester 2007, p. 39). In bureaucratic styles, the managers lead the project “by the book”, and make sure that the team exactly follows the procedures.
This leadership style may demand some specific circumstances, such as regulatory requirements and government contract that must be followed. However, the style is often utilized by insecure construction managers who do not want accountability for differences from standards. Use of bureaucratic leadership styles justifies poor ability to coordinate risks (Senaratne & Sexton 2008, p. 26). Coaching leadership style motivates and instructs others to improve their skills to accomplish the maximum effect for the project and team. A coach is directive, but concentrates on team and individual development. The main responsibility of the construction manager is the project. Therefore, a good project manager needs to be willing to delay a personal development of the member of the team, if it obstructs the objectives of the project (Cadle & Yeates 2007, p. 35). Empowering project manager requires the team members to select tasks, make decisions, and assess how the tasks are carried out.
However, a good project manager determines the skills and maturity of individual team members and allocates them suitable levels of freedom and authority to achieve the project goals (Lester & Lester 2007, p. 49). A facilitating project manager coordinates others inputs. Moreover, he or she is mainly a dispenser and organizer of project information (Lock 2007, p. 23). Nevertheless, the project manager does not make choices for the team nor exert activities. In this respect, he or she is the contact point for team members to manage their individual efforts. Additionally, a construction manager uses proper communication skills for higher management (Maylor 2010, p. 36). The supporting construction manager offers assistance in the course of the project. The project manager becomes a teammate rather than a leader, which generates greater results (Winch 2002, p. 10). The construction manager does some technical work of the project and coordinates the overall project.
Personal authority styles such as organizational, charismatic, transformational, and expert are important leadership styles. For a good starting point of a project, a manager needs to possess organizational skills (Tang 2003, p. 61). As the project continues, the members of the team understand the project manager, hence the personal authority styles should shift to more active styles. Besides, he should motivate respect via personality style (Harris, McCaffer & Edum-Fotwe 2006, p. 29). If the construction manager has only organizational authority, the team members may become disrespectful or apathetic over a period.
Ultimately, the project will derail. A charismatic leader leads a team via personality magnetism. They inspire enthusiasm and help to accomplish short project (Lock 2004, p. 22). Charismatic leaders should concentrate on the team development and project goals. However, they should avoid leading the construction project in the wrong direction due to personal ego. If combined with empowering, coaching, consensus, and democratic can very effective (Kleim, & Ludin 1992, p. 9). A transformational leader inspires his team for the future with a common vision. The leader’s vision offers motivational aspects. The main advantage of transformational leadership style is the commitment level and enthusiasm it produces to the team (Walker 2007, p. 6). Motivated teams require minimum supervisions and are likely to be innovative and proactive. A professional leader acquires cooperation of the team as a result of their respect of personal expertise of the project manager in subjective matter (Senaratne & Sexton 2008, p. 31). A project manager equipped with knowledge concerning the project will gain more outcomes, cooperation, and respect.
Construction projects are often considered high risk operations due to harmful environment. Due to the nature of construction, there exist many potential risks. Risks can potentially have a destructive effect for the construction projects (Auti & Skitmore 2008, p. 30). The construction projects are unique and risks occur from different sources such as quality risks, design risks, environmental risks, construction risks, and project management risks. The cost of risk cause huge expenses to the firm hence deserve appropriate management (Senaratne & Sexton 2008, p. 40). Risk response plan enables the main project participants such as supplier, consultant, developer, and contractor to satisfy their commitment and reduce negative effects on construction.
The objectives of risk response management is to plan and mitigate high risk identified in the construction site (Cadle & Yeates 2007, p. 29). Risk response effort needs set policies, responsibility, standards, goals, and procedures. Risk analysis, assessment, and identification exercises creates the foundations for sound risk response options. Risk response efforts can assist the construction manager to avoid or mitigate the risk in the sites (Walker 2007, p. 9). In construction, there are various categories of risks, which include unrecognized, ignored or unmanaged risks, and recognized risks, but no appropriate steps are taken. In addition, it includes avoided, transferred, and reduced risk category (Rumane 2011, p. 79). The risk management planning aims to produce actions and strategies that involve avoidance, transference, mitigation, and acceptance.
In avoidance, the construction team makes appropriate changes in the plan of the project in order to eradicate the risk or safeguard the project aims from its effects (Lock 2004, p. 89). Avoidance can be achieved by increasing resources, time, and changing the scope, thus reducing the triple constraints. In transference category, the construction team transfers the financial effects of the risk by using some contractors in some aspects of the work. Transferences only minimize the risk if the contractor has the capacity to take appropriate measures to minimize the risk (Walker 2007, p. 59). Besides, risk mitigation is a very crucial step in response planning. The construction manager is determined to minimize the consequences and probability of a risk event to a tolerable threshold. It is achieved through a variety of means that are particular to the risk and the project (Senaratne & Sexton 2008, p. 56). However, the process of mitigation is expensive and time consuming. Nonetheless, it is preferable to working with construction site unmitigated risk (Winch 2002, p. 12). Furthermore, risk acceptance can be applied in the risk response plan.
The construction project manager may choose to accept certain risks. The project manager does not change the plan of the project to focus on a risk or recognize any resonse strategy instead of accepting to address the risk as it takes place (Rumane 2011, p. 50). Due to information the manager has about a risk, their degree, and alternatives of response, information of project risk will emerge. Consequently, it will enable thoughtful risk planning.
Risk planning encompasses the thoughtful monitoring, implementation, and development of suitable response approaches. Response planning is a comprehensive development of a plan of action for risk management. Risk planning involves a process of developing and documenting an interactive, comprehensive, and organized risk management strategy (Auti & Skitmore 2008, p. 39). It also involves determination of methods of be utilized to implement risk management strategy. Besides, it requires adequate allocation of resources. Planning starts by establishing and documenting the risk management strategy. Early efforts develop the objectives and purpose, allocate duties for particular areas, recognize extra technical required expertise and explain the assessment process (Senaratne & Sexton 2008, p. 31). Risk response planning needs to consider evaluation of abilities of potential sources.
Since construction site requires high levls of uncertainites, it needs comprehensive and unique risk management plans (Maylor 2010, p. 39). The plans consider all factors of risk identification, planning, analysis,assessment,information systems, allocation, reports, and documentations. The construction of a dwelling place requires documentation of a red flag item list. A red flag list is developed the inception stage of project development and it is applicable as checklist in development of project. It offers simple and easy way of risk management and risk identification (Rumane 2011, p. 48). Additionally, it is used in the qualitative risk management process.
It is also a technique to identify risk and address critical items that may affect the schedule and cost of project. Items and issues that have the potential to cause harmful effects on the schedule and cost are recognized in a list and the risk will be updated as the construction progresses (Cadle & Yeates 2007, p. 37). By listing the risk, the construction team will be able to initiate contingencies and controlling risks. It also enables clear communication between construction project manager, engineers, and planners concerning these items.
The project manager should ensure that total quality control is maintained after completion of the house. Quality control in construction encompasses ensuring compliance with all standards of materials and labor to protect the house’s performance, according to design (Winch 2002, p. 10). For protecting compliance, statistical strategies and random samples are utilized which helps to either reject or accept the completed work and collections of materials (APM 2012, p. 7). Material rejections depend on violation or non-conformance of appropriate design stipulations. Total quality control ensures that no defective material is allowed to exist in the construction process (Senaratne & Sexton 2008, p. 43). It assists in ensuring that only materials that meet acceptable quality level are supplied and used in construction.
Supplied materials are inspected and allowed in the sites if they have defective percentage that meets the acceptable quality level (Rumane 2011, p. 69). Correction of problems is carried out after product delivery. The project manager will carry out total quality control using International Organization for Standardization (ISO 9000). It advocates for proper documentation, quality goals, and suitable circles of review, implementation, and planning.
The major elements of total quality in construction are to carry out design reviews for effective and safe construction procedures (Clough, Sears & Sears 2000, p. 10). Other elements include adequate training of workers, regular maintenance of equipment, and inspection of defects by workers. In addition, worker’s engagement in enhanced quality control is often used via formalized quality circles where a team of workers meets on a regular basis to discuss about quality enhancements. Zero defects delivery of materials is also the responsibility of suppliers (Cadle & Yeates 2007, p. 43). Suppliers who deliver quality materials are certified and do not receive a complete inspection on regular basis. However, suppliers with poor records are blacklisted, not certified. Therefore, improvement of quality increases the competitive advantage.
However, in construction, total quality is difficult to achieve. Therefore, it calls for commitment of project manager and enthusiasm of workers. It is also crucial to invite the US Occupational Safety and Health administration personnel (Tang 2003, p. 52). They help to conduct inspection and provide quality assurance to the ongoing projects. The experts do not only conduct on-site inspections, but receive samples of materials to be tested for quality compliance in laboratories. Work quality specification is a crucial feature for housing designs (Rumane 2011, p. 62). Total quality demands adherence of material specifications. Construction standards normally involve a range of prohibtions or instructions for certain operations. Performance specifications refer to the needed quality and performance of completed dwelling.
A suitable quality control program may assess all work and materials on a certain facility. Small samples of materials may be used to develop the basis of rejecting and accepting a certain piece of items or materials (Burke 2013, p. 29). Sampling procedures are used for quality control and also to eliminate defects in construction materials.
The construction industry has many hazards and leads to a lot of injuries and lost workdays. The work related illnesses and injuries are very expensive. Visitors of the construction site are also injured by construction accidents (Shao, Wang & Chen 2011, p. 24).
Therefore, the project managers should focus on illness, injuries, and accident reduction. The sources of injuries in the construction sites include falls from heights, struck by falling or moving objects or vehicles, and drowning. The construction project manager should consider using appropriate technology for the safety of the work place. The manager can also educate workers on proper procedures for avoiding the hazards in the construction site (Winch 2002, p. 15). Besides, regular safety meetings and safety inspections should be applied as a standard meassure in the site of construction.
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