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CAN BUSINESS RESCUE A WORLD ON FIRE?

As we grow increasingly aware of the slew of major challenges facing global society, there is a growing conversation around the role that business can and should play in driving positive change.

In a recent GIBS Flash Forum led by Rabbi Gideon Pogrund, director of the GIBS Ethics and Governance Think Tank, GIBS spoke to Dr Leile Fourie, CEO of the JSE, and the esteemed Professor Rebecca Henderson, McArthur Professor at Harvard University and author of Reimagining Capitalism In A World On Fire.

This latest work from Professor Henderson is immensely relevant, both globally and locally, and offers sharp insights and invaluable wisdom for guiding businesses along the path of positive change. The book unpacks three major challenges facing society today:

  • Environmental degradation
  • Economic inequality
  • Institutional collapse

Henderson explains that the first seeds of this work were born from her growing concerns about climate change, which led her to create a course for Harvard Business School which focused on reimagining capitalism and examining the role of business in tackling environmental challenges. Furthermore, Henderson began to encounter more and more energy companies who were grappling with the need to transition from an oil-and-coal economy to one of renewable energy. Following discussions with the course attendees, Henderson expanded the course scope to include issues of social and economic inequality.


Henderson’s expertise in the capabilities and responsibilities of effective business provides some fascinating insights into how we, as business leaders and participants, can adapt our operations to contribute to the creation of an equal, environmentally sustainable business world. She starts off by explaining that, when it comes to tackling the major challenges facing society, business simply cannot solve these massive problems alone. And, furthermore, these problems cannot be solved without business. Henderson explains that while there are many things that business can and should do to address these big problems, real, sustainable change cannot be achieved without a healthy partnership with a democratically accountable, capable government. Additionally, business desperately needs strong support from civil society, as well as a strong political and social movement to drive the vision of inclusive capitalism.


Business at its best, explains Henderson, generates (a) jobs, and (b) innovation. Both are needed at a huge scale for transformation. She goes on to say that she is in support of a programme that generates jobs through the private sector, and she believes that what is needed is the appropriate stimulation and support of competing firms in order to create jobs and address issues such as the Great Transition. While this is no easy task, Henderson believes that private firms with the right kinds of incentives and regulations are best positioned to lead the charge.


There is a strong belief that business needs to ‘stay in its lane’ and stay away from attempting to influence social change. Henderson, on the other hands, asks how organisations are supposed to continue with business as usual as the surrounding society becomes less and less capable of buying goods and services or providing effective employees? It is incredibly difficult to break even and make payroll while simultaneously driving change, but adaptation to our brave new world is a non-negotiable.

Henderson explains that we need to rethink what it means to be a business, so that we can get to the stage where we are prospering financially in a way that contributes to the long-term health and security of our society. We have a great battle ahead of us, but Henderson remains positive, and offers hope that success in this mission is imminently possible.

Watch the Full Discussion

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HOW TO EQUIP YOURSELF FOR THE NEW WORLD OF WORK

A strange new work landscape has been born from the chaos of COVID-19, and we are all looking for answers as to how we can adapt and keep our careers thriving. The 33rd issue of Acumen, GIBS’ quarterly business journal, provides some answers in “Are You Equipped for the New World of Work?” by Lisa Witepski.

Witepski explains that the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns have squashed certain highly valued business customs such as face-to-face communication and in-person collaboration, which have been central to business since the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). This is especially challenging given the simultaneous skyrocketing of technological solutions in business. In the wake of this rapid upheaval, Witepski asks, “What are the priorities in a post-Covid workplace?”

ADAPTATION OVER PREPARATION

A beast that adapts is one that survives – a lesson made clear by all that has happened in this historic year. Witepski writes,“Industrial and organisational psychologist, Margie Viviers, maintains that 10-year plans have become obsolete; the best we can do is try to plan for the potential disruptors we can but guess will interrupt our way of working within the next two years.”

She goes on to explain that, while we may expect some “get-ahead competencies” have changed in the new landscape, Viviers theorises that “The collaboration that has been highly prized in recent years will be in even greater demand. If anything, this could be elevated to superpower status, as leaders struggle to unite people across geographic divides.”

CREATIVITY IS KEY

We all know that the rocky road is far from over, and there are plenty of challenges ahead. To not only survive, but thrive, turn your team’s focus from planning ahead to developing short-term solutions to steer the business through the shifting market and circumstances. Further to this, creativity has become absolutely crucial to business success – workers need to be empowered by leadership to confront problems and enact innovative solutions. In this light, there has been a monumental need for team members with diverse skillsets; many companies are turning to online short courses to equip their employees with the necessary skills and knowledge. This not only creates a strong workforce, but encourages the pursuit of lifelong learning – the “key that will help us identify and unlock new opportunities”, according to Witepski. She also makes the point that online courses and webinars allow students sharpen their critical thinking to expand their network, which is increasingly important in a world with diminished face-to-face connection.

GET YOUR TEAM FUTURE-FIT

Witepski continues, “More than ever, the job of the leader is far greater than simply managing, driving or controlling people.” She argues that emotional intelligence and empathy are key assets for leadership in this difficult time, as workers grapple with pressures from all sides.

BACK TO BASICS

A great place to start when figuring out how to tackle new challenges is to look to the fundamentals of leadership and management. Coordination and planning, states Witepski, are especially important, especially as employers and employees work together to keep operations running swiftly and smoothly through this transition period. Furthermore, it is important that workers are not only competent but confident using a variety of technologies and platforms – this is another area where online training can be hugely beneficial.

ARM YOUR TEAM FOR BATTLE

GET GIGGING

COVID has caused the workforce to shift focus from keeping a single job to maintaining a flow of work, leading many to consider dipping their toes into freelancing. Templar Wales, co-founder of DYDX, explains that “individuals contemplating a freelance career would do well to arm themselves with technical skills such as bookkeeping, timekeeping and other basic business competencies”. Furthermore, hopeful freelancers need to ensure they are able to work with flexibility, focus and dedication, despite changing workflow, financial pressures and physical workspaces.

The future is uncertain, but it is conquerable with the right approach and mindset. Those who will thrive in the post-COVID world are those who are currently investing in the knowledge gain and skills development of themselves and their teams.

Ensure that you do the same, or get left behind.

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What Is the Average Project Manager Salary in South Africa in 2020?

Project management is a dynamic, exciting and lucrative career… but just how lucrative is it really?

We conducted research on average South African project manager salaries across PayScale, Glassdoor, BestJobs and Indeed, and here’s what we found.

Glassdoor

According to Glassdoor, a project manager makes an average of R827 408 per year, or R68 951 per month. This data is based on 71 salaries, but does not list additional compensation such as bonuses, profit sharing or commission. Glassdoor also lists the national average salary for senior project managers as R1 060 000 per year (R88 333 per month). However, it’s worth nothing that this figure is based on just 12 salaries.

Best Jobs

BestJobs has arguably conducted the most comprehensive research, having derived their data from 18 232 sources over 12 months. According to BestJobs, a project manager salary falls around the figure of R46 937 monthly (R563 244 annually). BestJobs offers no information on additional compensation or average salaries for different experience levels.

Indeed

Indeed collected data for 272 salaries and reported an average monthly project manager salary of R31 314 or annual compensation of R375 768. Indeed has also done research on the salaries for senior and junior project managers. According to a study of 26 salaries, senior project managers earn an average salary of R34 064 per month (R408 768 annually). Junior project managers are reported to receive an average salary of R16 113 per month, or R193 356 per year – it must be noted, however, that this data is based on just 13 salaries. Indeed also lists the average salary for construction project managers as R35 079 per month (R420 948 annually), based on data from 28 salary submissions. The average salary for construction managers, which is a similar role to a construction project manager, sits at R36 675 per month, or R440 100 per year.

PayScale

PayScale reports an average annual pay of R429 450, or a monthly salary of R35 788, for project managers of the general or unspecified type. It goes on to list an average bonus of R32 799, commission earnings of R27 000 and profit sharing of R18 700. PayScale also lists the average salary of a project management assistant as R230 000 per year (R19 167 per month), with an average bonus of R23 750. Similarly to Indeed, PayScale lists the average salary of a construction project manager as R461 551 per year (R38 463), with an average bonus of R30 837, commission of R150 000 and profit sharing of R44 500. A senior project manager in construction is reported to earn R852 548 per year (R71 045 per month), with R72 500 in bonuses and R1010 736 in profit sharing. The salary of an assistant project manager in construction is R190 000 per year (R15 833 per month), with an annual bonus of R15 026 and profit sharing of R15 000. For senior project managers in engineering, PayScale reports an average annual salary of R1 040 752, or R86 729 per month, with an average yearly bonus of R64 341. Finally, the average salary for senior project managers in IT is R783 900 per year, or R65 325 monthly, with an annual bonus of R69 896 and profit sharing of R45 000.

Project Management Salary Data Notes

The above data offers some answers, but one also has to consider that relatively small sample sizes were studied in most cases. Furthermore, there are discrepancies between different websites, and it is important to remember that the job market is always in flux according to economic activity and supply and demand. Nevertheless, here is a consolidated summary of the average salary for project managers (of various descriptions) in South Africa:

Role Average Salary (per year / per month) Total Additional Compensation Reported by Number of salaries studied:
Project Manager R827 408 / R68 951 Unlisted Glassdoor 71
Project Manager R375 768 / R31 314 Unlisted Indeed 272
Project Manager R429 450 / R35 788 R78 499 PayScale Unlisted
Project Manager R563 244 / R46 937 Unlisted BestJobs 18 232
Senior Project Manager R1 060 000 / R88 333 Unlisted Glassdoor 12
Senior Project Manager R408 768 / R34 064 Unlisted Indeed Unlisted
Junior Project Manager R193 356 / R16 113 Unlisted Indeed 13
Project Management Assistant R230 000 / R19 167 R23 750 PayScale Unlisted
Senior Project Manager (Engineering) R1 040 752 / R86 729 R64 341 PayScale Unlisted
Senior Project Manager (IT) R783 900 / R65 325 R114 896 PayScale Unlisted
Project Manager (Construction) R461 551 / R38 463 R225 337 PayScale Unlisted
Project Manager (Construction) R420 948 / R35 079 Unlisted Indeed 28
Senior Project Manager (Construction) R852 548 / R71 045 R174 236 PayScale Unlisted
Construction Manager R440 100 / R36 675 Unlisted Indeed Unlisted
Assistant Project Manager (Construction) R190 000 / R15 833 R30 026 PayScale Unlisted

Last Updated: October, 2020

AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

What Is Agile Project Management?

Agile project management is a project management (PM) methodology that is rooted in the principles of agile software development, as laid out in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, which was created by a group of IT professionals in 2001.

In simple words, agile project management involves dividing a full project into small iterations or ‘sprints’. During each sprint, products are produced and then reviewed by team members and stakeholders. This iterative system creates a project process in which deliverables are continuously produced, client and stakeholder involvement is increased, and product amendments can be made with relative ease.

Agile management is well-suited to dynamic industries that need to constantly adapt to change, serve an ever-shifting market, and produce deliverables on a regular basis. For example, it caters well to software development which requires consistent adaptation.

Agile project management can be applied to any project with short production and implementation times, as well as projects that produce deliverables which can be amended or expanded upon, such as technological devices or apps. Prominent companies that use agile project management include Microsoft, Samsung, Philips and IBM.

The Four Values in Agile Project Management

The 2001 Manifesto authors begin by explaining that, through evaluating traditional project management processes, they have come to value:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan.

What Are the Agile Project Management Principles?

The above values inform the principles of the manifesto, which can be summarised as follows:

  1. Customer satisfaction: This is the top priority.
  2. Requirement changes: Should be welcomed, no matter the maturity of the project.
  3. Frequent delivery: Products should be produced often for review.
  4. Collaboration: Stakeholders and business leaders should collaborate with the project team throughout the project.
  5. Trust and efficiency: Motivated individuals should be equipped with the necessary support and resources, after which they should be trusted to get the work done without micromanagement.
  6. Face-to-face conversation: This is the optimal form of communication.
  7. Progress by means of production: This is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Sustainability is key: Agile processes should enable all parties to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Simplicity should be prioritised: Unnecessary work needs to be cut.
  10. Self-organising teams: Produce the best work.
  11. Self-reflection at regular intervals: Teams should be able to analyse their progress internally and then implement the necessary changes to maximise effectiveness.

The combination of these principles produces the core values of agile project management: trust, adaptability, empowerment and collaboration. So long as the project team is fully aligned regarding responsibilities, accountability and processes, these values allow for team members to work well together and produce quality products.

With these values at the heart of the project process, the project team is able to focus on their work, become empowered in their responsibilities, and foster personal and professional development.

Why Agile Project Management?

Agile’s focus on the continuous production of deliverables and frequent review processes offers a number of benefits including:

  1. High product quality
    The iterative structure and prioritisation of continuous product improvement produces well-functioning, comprehensively designed deliverables.
  1. High customer satisfaction
    The clients and stakeholders are likely to be satisfied throughout the project process as they have full knowledge of the project at all stages, are able to request changes at any stage, and can enjoy continuous and fast delivery of products.
  1. Reduced risk
    The iterative system of agile management allows for risks to be confined to individual sprints, to a reasonable extent. Furthermore, agile project management requires that risk analysis be a continuous process throughout the duration of the project, with frequent client feedback and ongoing opportunities to adapt the product to meet the clients’ requests.
  1. Better and faster ROI (return on investment)
    Thanks to frequent review processes, products are often market-ready in a much shorter time frame than with conventionally-managed projects. This serves to keep stakeholders happy and increase the product’s competitive edge.

Agile project plans are perfectly suited to today’s fast-paced business world as they allow you to focus on what the business needs NOW, and address any new needs in the next iteration.

Agile Project Management Characteristics

The following characteristics allow agile project management to work well when things are uncertain, the environment is changing rapidly, there are unclear requirements, and the environment is of low criticality (i.e. instances where it is acceptable for a product to fail as it can be scrapped and the team can move forward). Many startups use agile management because it allows them to get into the market, create engagement and brand awareness, and find out what customers want.

Characteristics of Agile Projects

  1. Sprints of 4-12 weeks.
  2. Face to face communication is favoured over documentation
  3. Co-location or simulation thereof using digital tools
  4. Sponsor committed to an agile process
  5. Requirement changes are anticipated and accommodated

These characteristics are specific to and essential for agile project management – however, there are a number of characteristics from traditional project management approaches that will be beneficial for the management of any project.

Characteristics of a Traditional Approach to Project Management

The characteristics from a traditional PM strategy that work well in agile plans include:

  1. A vision for the project
  2. Following a universally understood project lifecycle
  3. Requirements and acceptance criteria need to be understood
  4. A shared and managed schedule should be used
  5. A dedicated project team needs to be established
  6. Frequent and honest communication with stakeholders

Steps in Agile Project Management

The agile cycle is arranged as follows:

  1. The project is divided into several small cycles or sprints.
  2. At the end of each sprint, a portion of the deliverable or mini-project is completed.
  3. Each sprint involves planning, design, testing and the release of a mini-project, followed by a review session.

More specifically, the project process will progress as follows:

  1. Project planning
    The project team will assess project feasibility, develop the full scope of the project, break the process into sprints, and estimate the time to be taken for each sprint.

  2. Roadmap creation
    A plan of action is created for how the project should proceed and evolve over time. Required features of the final project will also be listed, as well the steps for creating these features.

  3. Release planning
    The team plans the features and/or products to be released at the end of each sprint.

  4. Sprint planning
    A sprint planning session takes place before each sprint to nail down what needs to be achieved, ensure even workload distribution and plan the steps needed to successfully complete the upcoming sprint.

  5. Daily meetings
    It is important that the project team check in frequently to share issues or frustrations, and find out what has been accomplished and what is still needed.

  6. Sprint review & retrospective
    There will be two meetings after each sprint. The sprint review involves sharing the finished mini-product with the client and discussing any issues. The sprint retrospective is an opportunity to sit with the stakeholders and discuss what went right and what went wrong.

Through this setup, agile project managers can achieve their goals of increasing the probability of product success, working with shorter project life cycles, and increasing the frequency of product releases.

Agile Project Management vs Traditional Project Management

There are a number of major and minor differences between the agile approach and traditional project management approaches, including:

AGILE PM MANAGEMENT TRADITIONAL PM MANAGEMENT
Agile managers let their team problem-solve to resolve issues which arise. This requires trust in their capabilities and makes the process more efficient. Traditional projects require managerial intervention when issues arise, which may take some pressure off of the project team, but can delay progress and put extra stress on managers.
Agile places the focus on serving the customer, even if that can throw a wrench in the process. Traditional PM favours the plan above all else.
Agile empowers all team members and encourages collaboration and proactivity. Traditional project management works with a top-to-bottom hierarchy.
Agile measures success according to the value which the final product offers the customer. Traditional approaches measure success according to a number of predetermined metrics.

Agile Project Management Frameworks

There are a number of agile frameworks in which a team can work, including:

Scrum project management
Scrum is arguably the framework most commonly used for agile PM. Scrum is the technical name for the sprint-based framework, and involves segmenting the project into sprints i.e. short timeframes in which a small part of the project is worked on and subsequently reviewed. This methodology ensures that momentum is maintained throughout the project and allows for frequent client feedback.

Kanban project management
Kanban project management is rooted in the principle of “just-in-time” manufacturing which seeks to eliminate unnecessary tasks and increase efficiency. Kanban project management makes use of a kanban board, made up of cards and columns, to visualise processes and workflow.

Lean project management
Lean project management is rooted in the prioritisation of the customer’s experience of the brand. The aim of this framework is to reduce the waste of time and resources. Lean project management works best for ongoing processes and an overall shift in business operations.

Hybrid project management
This framework combines agile and non-agile methodologies to create an optimised management approach. Generally, planning is done with a waterfall approach, while execution and delivery uses an agile approach.

Agile Project Management Software

There is a wide selection of great agile software out there, but here are a few of the most popular options:

  • Asana
    Asana is a widely-used project management software that offers a number of perks such as:
    1. Easy-to-use interface.
    2. Capabilities for creating projects and tasks and assigning them to different members, inviting new team members, hosting discussions, editing task descriptions, tagging team members, and adding tags, due dates, due times, priority status, links and images.
    3. Choose list view or kanban mode (for a kanban board).
    4. Compatible with Slack, Dropbox, Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, One Drive and other programmes
    5. Track project progress and set project status
    6. Free for teams of up to 15 people
  • Jira
    Jira is one of the most loved PM softwares out there, thanks to the following features:
    1. Easy-to-use interface with scrum and kanban modes.
    2. Strong reporting tools and a massive number of available integrations.
    3. Roadmap planning and issue-tracking capabilities.
    4. Choose between self-hosted or cloud-based premium options to best suit your team.
  • Trello
    Trello is a popular and easy-to-use option that allows you to:
    1. Create boards, lists and cards for effective management.
    2. Collaborate with team members by adding comments to tasks, uploading attachments and assigning cards.
    3. The free package offers all basic features, while the premium packages allow for app integrations, enhanced security and privacy options, priority email support, and user management tools.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT IN CONSTRUCTION: Everything You Need to Know

Project management in construction has become crucial as the industry has grown. Construction management is largely rooted in the successful development, coordination, execution and completion of projects that include, among others, those of the institutional, agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, heavy civil and environmental descriptions.

Effective project management and project managers are key to success in construction, so if this is a field you are interested in, it’s essential to equip yourself with as much comprehensive knowledge as you can.

What is Construction Project Management?

Project management in construction involves the facilitation of construction projects, whether you are building a mall or renovating a home. Relevant project management theories, tools, models and processes are used to ensure that:

  1. Everything runs smoothly during the construction process.
  2. Clients are kept up to date and informed of any mishaps on site or changes in planning.
  3. The required resources, including staff, money and time, are available for the necessary work.
  4. Staff are all adhering to the stipulated health and safety protocols.
  5. The final product aligns with the needs and wants specified in the client brief, and the client is satisfied that the project deliverables meet the acceptance criteria.
  6. The project does not exceed budget expectations or run up unexpected costs.
  7. Areas of responsibility and accountability are clear, and the chain of communication runs smoothly.
  8. Project progress is aligned with the timeline laid out in the initial project planning.

What is the difference between construction management and project management?

You may have encountered the term ‘construction management’, and might be wondering if this is different from construction-specific project management. While construction management is rooted in the principles of project management, this is a more hands-on job that involves managing the on-site portion of the project. A conventional project manager who is heading up a construction project, on the other hand, primarily handles administration. Thus, a construction project will usually have both a dedicated project manager and a construction manager.

Why is project management important in construction?

Construction projects are huge-scale and require incredibly careful, detailed and realistic planning in order for them to be successfully executed. It is important for responsibilities to be clearly outlined in any project in order to maximise efficiency and make sure that all bases are covered. Thus, a formal project management process and competent lead project manager are essential to ensure that the project is successfully, safely and economically completed.

What is a Construction Project Manager?

A construction project manager is the leader of a construction project. This means that they are responsible for the planning and execution of the project, along with the management of the project team and team members, so that the client’s needs are met and the project deliverables meet the necessary acceptance criteria.

What are the responsibilities of a construction project manager?

According to the Construction Management Association of America, the most common responsibilities of a construction project manager are the following:

  1. Project management planning
  2. Cost management
  3. Time management
  4. Quality management
  5. Contract administration
  6. Safety management
  7. CM (Construction Management) professional practice

Other responsibilities include setting goals and objectives of the project, drafting contracts and managing and mitigating risks. A project manager may choose to delegate some of the responsibilities among other project leaders.

Who does a construction project manager work with?

It takes hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people to successfully execute a construction project. Thus, each project has a project team. In construction, team members could include:

  1. Construction and building staff
    These are the labourers who physically lay down the brick and mortar and bring the project deliverable to life.
  1. Contract manager
    This person is in charge of scheduling, organising and overseeing all contractors on site.
  1. Contractors
    These include service providers and tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians, painters, landscapers and security system installers. These workers install fittings and structures necessary for a building to be habitable.
  1. Architects
    An architect is responsible for designing, planning and overseeing the construction of a structure.
  1. Site foreman
    A foreman is a senior, experienced worker who is in charge of a construction crew and oversees on-site happenings.
  1. Financial advisors and experts
    These individuals monitor the project’s budget and spending, and consult with the project manager to ensure that costs stay in line with the planned budget.
  1. HR managers
    Human Resource managers are responsible for ensuring that all workers are adhering to safety protocols, and that all working conditions are in line with labour laws and best practices.
  1. Engineers
    Most engineers who work in construction are civil engineers. It is their job to plan out the technicalities of the construction project to ensure that the building can actually be built.
  1. Inspectors
    Inspectors analyse the building and ensure that building codes and ordinances, as well as zoning regulations, and contract specifications are adhered to. It is important for them to confirm that a project is both safely inhabitable and in line with legal specifications.
  1. Design managers
    These individuals work closely with the architects and engineers to ensure that the building is perfectly designed and built to be durable, sturdy, and up to standard.
  1. Quantity surveyors
    These individuals analyse the project and construction plans to determine how much money the project is going to cost.
  1. Construction schedulers
    These individuals analyse the project and construction plans to determine how long it will take for the project to be completed.

A construction project manager will also need to work with clients, stakeholders and business seniors such as the CEO or CFO. It is the project manager’s job to ensure that the clients’ vision is delivered, and to keep everyone in the loop regarding project progress.

The general duties of a Construction Project Manager

A construction project manager will need to complete daily administrative tasks, in addition to conducting site visits and checking that everything is in order. If you pursue this career, you can expect to perform the following daily tasks and responsibilities:

  1. Administration
    Each day, you will need to check in with the relevant members of the construction team to find out if any issues have arisen in the past day, or if any assistance or further discussions are needed. Other tasks could include checking emails, looking over planning documents such as budgets, and making calls. This aspect of the job requires that you have strong technical and communication skills, as well as good time management.
  1. Conduct meetings
    You will need to have regular meetings throughout the duration of the project in order to assess progress, troubleshoot issues, keep separate departments aligned, and keep stakeholders and clients in the loop. You may not lead each meeting, but when you do, you will need to put together an agenda, set clear meeting objectives and outcomes, and ensure that the discussion stays on track and everyone has an equal chance to speak, ask questions and contribute.
  1. Site visits
    You will need to conduct site visits to touch base with your foreman, contractors, construction labourers, and other hands-on team members. You may need to inspect problem areas, advise on next steps, and meet with the client to walk them through the site and address any concerns. This area of responsibility allows you to practice hands-on problem solving, and allows you to monitor the translation of a project from paper to brick.

Being a construction project manager requires you to balance a wide range of tasks, and divide your time between administration and hands-on work. You need to be comfortable working and meeting with lots of different people, in addition to balancing your own task list and managing your time.

What are the Principles of Construction Project Management?

Principles in business are fundamental norms and values that determine an organisation’s operations, processes and decisions. In project management, these principles will play an important part in the planning of the project, as well as guiding the way when problems arise. Important construction project management principles include:

Focus on products
It is important that the project manager and project team keep their eyes set on the deliverables they need to produce. After all, at the end of the day, what matters most is that the project is completed to the client’s specifications, within the predetermined budget and timeframe. Make sure to prioritise the successful production of the product when you need to make tough decisions.

Continued business justification
As vital as it is for you to keep your clients happy, it is even more important that the project remains a viable and profitable business venture. If a project is becoming too costly, or it is suspected that the business may take a loss, you may need to make the call to abandon the project in favour of the business’ survival.

Define roles and responsibilities
Because a project’s success is so important to the business, it is essential that all involved personnel know exactly what they are and are not responsible for. It is also crucial to have a list of all persons involved and their respective responsibilities so that the right people will be involved in the right discussions.

Management by exception
It is essential for those in senior positions to be informed about what is going on, but you must also remember that they do not need to know every detail. This also applies to the general project manager – while they must be informed of any problems, they will simply be unable to manage each and every aspect. Management by exception involves asking the question “What can I delegate?”, rather than “What can I do?”. This ensures that work is spread fairly and the project manager is not inundated with an unrealistic amount of responsibility.

Management by stages
A large portion of project management involves dividing the project into manageable chunks, in a way that is aligned with the stipulated timeline. Arranging a project this way allows your team to focus on one milestone at a time, before worrying about the work that needs to be done for the next stage.

Learn from experience
You, like everyone else, will make mistakes. The most important thing for you to remember is to never make the same mistake twice. As you go through your career, you will identify the most successful ways of operating – make sure to turn to these when the time comes for you to make difficult calls. Remember the missteps of both yourself and others, and take action to avoid repeating them.

Tailor to the environment
Take care to ensure that your decisions are informed by the context in which you are making them. No two projects will ever be the same, and thus no two can be handled in exactly the same way. In this case, ‘context’ or ‘environment’ can include things such as the timeline, budget and availability of resources.

What are the 4 stages of Construction Project Management?

Although not set in stone, there are generally four standard stages, or ‘phases’, of a construction project:

Planning
This stage largely involves transforming the client’s idea or concept into a strategic plan that will bring the project into reality. This could include defining the goals and objectives of the project, evaluating the project’s viability, assessment of scope, and the early acquisition of professionals, such as engineers, who will be involved at a later stage.

Preconstruction
Preconstruction involves transforming the discussions and plans of the planning phase into reality, including drawing up contracts, creating construction documents and organising permits. This phase also involves coordinating the project team and the construction team.

Construction
This phase is the name of the game – this is when all your planning pays off as the project deliverables begin to be produced. Administrative work and hard labour come together in this phase, as you work to keep things running smoothly both on- and off-site.

Close-Out
The close-out or ‘closure’ phase of a project is incredibly important, and all too often people want to rush through this stage. However, it is essential to ensure that the correct steps are taken here, such as creating a construction close-out document list, commissioning the building to check system function, and insurance must be appropriately adjusted.

How do I become a Construction Project Manager?

Project management is an absolutely vital part of construction, and there are plenty of project management career opportunities out there. If you would like to explore the possibility of becoming a construction project manager, it is important that you possess the following:

  1. Relevant work experience
    Due to the incredible importance of successful project management, along with the long list of responsibilities of a construction project manager, it is necessary that you have fairly extensive experience in the construction industry, as well as experience in leadership roles.
  1. Good work ethic
    Project managers have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, and a large number of daily tasks. It is thus essential that you have a good work ethic, meaning diligence, attention to detail, good organisation, and working stamina. You need to be alert and active every day of the week, and always willing to go the extra mile to ensure project and organisational success.
  1. Strong technical skills
    Much of construction project management requires the use of technology such as planning programmes and team communication platforms. Furthermore, we are living through the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), and digitalisation is growing at a rapid rate, meaning that the construction industry will likely increase its use of technological tools. Thus, it is important that you have a fair level of computer literacy, familiarity with basic technologies such as Microsoft Excel, and the ability to quickly grasp and understand new technological concepts, systems and software.
  1. Strong communication skills
    One of the most important skills of a project manager is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Not only will you be required to communicate with your team, but you will also need to report back to your superiors. It is important that you are able to translate issues and concerns into clear terms, and effectively discuss these with the relevant people in order to create solutions. It is recommended that hopeful project managers do all that they can to prepare for the role by researching important skills and enrolling in courses in leadership, communication, and presentation skills.
  1. Strong leadership skills
    As project leader, you will be able to call the shots, but you will also have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders as you are essentially accountable for the success or failure of the project. You need to be able to handle this pressure, make the difficult decisions, have tough conversations and earn the respect of your team and superiors. You can enrol in online leadership courses to boost your skills and volunteer for leadership roles when they arise.
  1. Passion for problem solving
    Project management is a game of problem-solving, especially in construction. You will need to be able to spot the problems and take initiative to implement solutions. Most importantly, you need to be committed to making what needs to happen happen – whatever it takes.
  1. The ability to adapt
    The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, and organisations all over the world need to adapt accordingly. Not only is the digital revolution in full swing, but there is also a move towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable business. Both of these revolutions will have a direct impact on the operations and processes of the construction industry, so it is essential to stay up-to-date with industry updates, news and current affairs.

With all this information in mind, you might be asking yourself:

Should I become a Construction Project Manager?

Project management in construction can be an incredibly, dynamic, exciting and lucrative career. You need to possess a particular set of skills, and you do need sufficient experience, but the path to this profession is not a complicated one. You will need to develop your communication, organisation and leadership skills, and become comfortable with taking on major responsibility. If you are passionate about working in a dynamic team, taking the lead, and experiencing the satisfaction of bringing a project from paper into reality, this might just be the job for you.

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