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How to Manage a Construction Project Step By Step

Tools and step by step resources to manage your construction projects. We’re here to help with quick strategies for easy, efficient communication on and off of the job site.

How to Manage a Construction Project Step By Step

Successful construction projects can only be achieved through effective collaboration, which takes thorough planning, rigorous project management, and most importantly, open and continuous communication.

As a construction project manager, you've likely encountered miscommunications, language barriers, delivery mix-ups, and other issues that have cost a project time, money, or both. While there is no silver bullet to solve these problems, having a central place for everyone on a project to communicate and coordinate is key to reducing these issues.

At Rivet, our goal is to create a central place for everyone on a project to communicate. To meet that goal, we know that we must build something that is easy for anyone to use, accessible on every device, and comprehendible no matter what language you speak.

In this guide, we'll not only cover how construction project managers can set up a project for optimal success, but demonstrate how Rivet can help facilitate the daily execution of that project.

We’ll cover:

  1. Choosing your team
  2. Finalizing designs and contracts
  3. Scheduling
  4. Overseeing the communications in the construction process
  5. Closing out and delivering a quality product

We aim to give you a clear understanding of how integrating Rivet into your construction project process will enhance daily communications.

What is Construction Project Management?

Construction project management is the process of coordinating a construction project from beginning to end to ensure that residential areas, malls, towers, and more get built.

Construction project managers organize the long list of tasks required to get stuff done. From contracts, budgets, to schedules, construction project managers ensure clients and contractors are on the same page and that sites will run smoothly. Their responsibilities include:

  • Budgeting
  • Arranging work schedules
  • Choosing best practices
  • Communicating with clients
  • Checking in with on-site staff
  • Liaising with clients

These managers guide the project from day one of development, all the way through the closing out process. Managers often choose the construction crews who will work on the job site. Construction project managers must have top-notch organizational and communication skills, as they will serve as a liaison between many parties.

Tools like Rivet streamline communication for construction teams. We can help ease some of the load by centralizing project communications in one place. Yep, no more sifting through old emails, notebooks, and texts just to verify one detail.

Now let’s walk you through how to manage a construction project step by step while using Rivet for your daily communication needs.

Choosing Your Team: Subcontractors, Vendors, and Clients

Before any great project can begin, you must assemble a crew. On your construction project, you’ll work with lots of different folks like:

  • Property owners and clients who are building and remodeling
  • Vendors providing supplies
  • Subcontractors with trade expertise

The above list is not exhaustive. There will be lots of communication to manage. You can build a strong foundation for your construction team by being clear in initial communications.

On “A Podcast that Builds” with Ben Johnson, Sue Dyer, president of construction firm OrgMetrics, explained seven root causes of poor communication in construction project management. They are:

  1. Fear
  2. Misaligned expectations
  3. Confusion
  4. Loss of momentum
  5. Dissatisfaction
  6. Lack of commitment
  7. Unconscious incompetence

While you can’t completely control for each factor, you can reduce the risk of them occurring.

Be clear and direct about your project’s goals and expectations up front. This way, you can reduce the risk that misaligned expectations and confusion will hamper communication.

If you set a precedent of transparent and honest communication, others working on your project will follow suit. When everyone working on the project feels comfortable to express their interests and ideas, fear is also reduced as a root cause of poor communication.

Another reliable way to prevent the roots of poor communication (especially confusion) is to ensure that critical information is up-to-date and accessible to everyone on the project who needs it. This is easiest when you can find all relevant information stored in one place.

That’s why we suggest opening a project channel on Rivet as a first step in your next construction project. You can do this with the click of a button. Once the channel is open, you can begin adding all project participants to it and start messaging them through our construction app. They can choose to download the app, and reply in the channel, or simply send messages and photos directly in the text thread that is generated when someone messages people through the app.

Open Channels of Communication with Rivet

It’s easy to organize convos by project with Rivet. You can add as many conversations to a project as you’d like.

Once you’ve done this, check out the info section. Here, you can drop all the project’s critical information, including job site address, lockbox codes, permit numbers, and more. If you pay for construction management software, you can even link to folders from within those apps here as well.

Rivet’s information section is totally customizable. Our goal is to help you and your project participants organize all the information you need for daily coordination. We help you get out of personal text, notebooks, and notes apps and into one central, organized location.

Shared Directory

Beyond project site details, it is also critical for everyone to have access to the contact information for people and organizations that are critical to the success of the project.

Since it’s guaranteed in construction that you will work with players outside of your organization, we’ve created a shared directory. This helps field teams solve problems faster through quick access to project contacts. All members of your project can sync their phone’s contacts and port over work related individuals to ensure you never lose a number again, even if an employee leaves.

Other exciting features of the shared directory:

  • Organize contacts into groups (like warm leads) or companies for quicker communication
  • Add specific info to contacts (like Rob only texts, no email)
  • Quickly kick off group texts or emails directly from the shared directory
boy in orange long sleeve shirt writing on white paper
Image: This is Engineering

Finalizing Contracts

Once you’ve chosen your team, opened communication channels, and seen initial designs, it’s time to finalize everything. When you’re in the design phase, lots of important decisions are being made.

During this portion of a project, you will need to manage documents including designs, bulletins, and contracts as clients and contractors finalize expectations and working relationships.

Types of Contracts

What sorts of contracts might you need to organize as a construction project manager? We’ll discuss a few in the table below.

Contract Type

Description

Lump-sum

This is the most common type of contract. In lump-sum agreements, the owner and contractor decide on a set payment. This will remain the same even if the project costs more or less than expected.

Unit Price

In a unit price contract, the project owner and contractors agree to specific unit prices for each item that needs to get done during construction. These unit prices include:

  • labor

  • material

  • equipment

  • overhead

  • profit

This type of contract is useful when parties are struggling to come to an agreement.

Cost Plus Fixed Fee

In a cost plus fixed fee contract, contractors will not have to cover unexpected costs. The owner will need to cover project costs, contractors’ fixed fee, and any costs that arose unexpectedly during construction.

Guaranteed Maximum Price

Guaranteed maximum price contracts work much the same as cost plus fixed fee ones. The key difference is contractors and owners agree to a maximum price which owners will not be required to exceed, even if unexpected costs are higher than projected.

Managing Documents, Contracts, and More

It can be difficult for project managers to keep a record of agreements and information the team may need. Having all team members, clients, and subcontractors communicate through one platform that syncs with your text messages can help with this issue.

When you create a project on Rivet, a few folders will be automatically generated. These include a photos folder and a files folder. This means any time someone sends a file or photo into one of your project channels, it will be stored in these folders. Additionally, a project activity feed will be created, so you can see the daily progress of each project.

The bottom line? Save time and energy using a platform that can help streamline your communications. No manual organizing necessary, because Rivet can help automate your photo sort and file process.

Did your project participants sign a lump-sum or unit price contract? If the contract was sent through Rivet, you’ll be able to answer this question in seconds.

Coordinate Day-to-Day Activities

Now that you’ve approved the design, gathered your team, and finalized contracts, the pre-construction and procurement phase begins. You will need contractors to prepare the job site while you begin coordinating the delivery of equipment and materials.

By clearly communicating about material deliveries, you will be able to avoid deviations. In a master’s thesis for Chalmers University of Technology, researchers Lisa Darvik and Julia Larsson found that over 90% of the deliveries of kitchen cabinets and concrete that they studied were associated with at least one deviation. Kitchen appliances were even worse; all deliveries they studied had at least one deviation.

Darvik and Larsson explained that “lack of communication was the most common reason for delivery deviations that could be identified in the study.”

If material delivery deviations are a problem you’re running up against, having a calendar with reminders for you and your crew will resolve some of these issues.

Shared Calendar

Rivet’s shared project calendar can not only support you with daily coordination issues, including deliveries, but provide a central place anyone on a project can visit to get an idea of what’s scheduled.

You can add events and tasks to this calendar and categorize them by project. The calendar automatically color codes items based on the project they are associated with. This way, you’ll know what’s happening when.

You can also add certain project participants to events. Need your site supervisor, Mary, to oversee a delivery of cupboard doors on Tuesday? No problem. Tap the plus sign in the top right corner of your calendar to create a new event. Name it, customize the time frame, and invite Mary and your supplier. You can also select when people will be reminded of the event and add any notes you may need.

Logistics: Managing Job Site Remotely

Since you won’t always be onsite to guide deliveries and other tasks, knowing who’s onsite and who’s in the office at all times can help you manage logistics.

With Rivet, you can use the “onsite” feature to check who’s on a job site.

Team members can check into the job site through Rivet when they arrive. When they leave, they can check out. That way, if you need to contact someone onsite to confirm a delivery, you won’t need to spend time figuring out who is there. Simply open the app and tap the “onsite” tab in your project channel to view who’s on the clock.  

For project members to use the jobsite check-in feature on Rivet, make sure they enable their location permissions so that the app can remind them to check in or out when they arrive at, or leave a site.

man wearing red hard hat hanged on brown rebar bar
Image: Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa

Construction: Overseeing the Process

Continuous communication is also critical to the actual construction process. During this phase, you will need to keep everyone on the same page and establish site norms, including:

  • Policies for handling materials
  • Safety protocols
  • Areas dedicated to storage

Beyond establishing standards for how your construction site will run, positive communication helps create ease between all parties, especially subcontractors and clients. These things can be added to your project info section which can be easily accessed by any project member from any channel associated with that project.

Communication: In-chat Translation

Many construction teams include members who do not all speak the same language. According to a 2019 ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) report, 40% of construction employers said they had a foreign language skills gap at their company.

While “employees in construction and manufacturing are about twice as likely to use foreign languages exclusively among themselves compared to other sectors,” these languages are also important for external communications. 57% of construction employers reported that they used foreign languages for both internal and external communication.

In other words, if you don’t have a translator on staff, you’re in a bind. Being able to communicate with all relevant parties is key to any construction project process.

Luckily, translation is effortless with Rivet. You can translate messages, events, tasks, and more with one tap.

Did someone on your project team send a message in Spanish? In-chat translation allows you to tap a button and view the text in English. Need to contact a Spanish-speaking supplier? Send them a message in English through the app and they can translate it to Spanish on their end in moments.

Do you work with employees or contacts who speak languages besides Spanish and English? We have more translation features coming soon!

Completing Projects: Creating Tasks

If you’ve figured out communication across languages, but your subcontractors and other project participants are still struggling to keep track of what they need to get done, the task feature can help.

You can choose to create a task list that your team can easily view in the app. You can also tap to turn any message sent in Rivet into a task, so you don’t forget to get it done.

man in black jacket wearing yellow hard hat
Image: This is Engineering

Closing Out: Deliver a Quality Product

When all tasks are completed, it’s time to wrap up your project and deliver the finished product to clients. However, before you do this, we recommend creating a punch list to catch loose ends. Punch lists can include many different items, like:

  • Damages that occurred during construction
  • Incorrect installations
  • Aspects of construction that are different than planned

The function of the list is to catch all the small errors that must be addressed before money gets exchanged. Bigger errors should be resolved through a change order.

But how can you ensure that all of the minor fixes end up on one list, since many teams may have worked on separate areas? In Rivet, you can organize separate task lists by project, assuring each sub has their own list, but all those lists are organized, and viewable in one space.

Managing Your Punch Out

There are a few ways Rivet can aid your closing out process, but here we’ll focus on two.

First, the “task” section where you can create a task list. Keep things simple with a list, or add photos, dates, and reminders to your tasks. You can even transform a message sent to the group into a task with just two clicks.

You can also assign tasks to a specific person. Even team members who aren’t using the Rivet app have access to these tasks. Simply send them the item through text or email and they will be able to see those tasks, add comments or photos, and close them when they’re done.

You can watch this video on how to manage daily to-do’s for more information that will help you with your punch list.

If your team is newer to the app and prefers a more familiar feature, try creating a channel dedicated to the Punch List within your project. That way, team members can send in photos and information about unfinished elements as they notice them. One team member can take responsibility for converting these messages into tasks (with just a couple of clicks) or everyone can agree to resolve punch list items within the chat.

Get Organized Today

We understand that project management in the construction industry requires razor sharp organization and communication.

As a construction project manager, you work with many key players daily. Navigating communication across teams, managing calendars, and ensuring the legality of the building process are huge tasks. We’d love to support you here.

If you’re ready to switch your company from personal text to a single communication hub, visit joinrivet.com to get started. You can download Rivet (available on iOS, Android, and desktop) today, 100% free. No credit card information required. Have questions about Rivet? Reach out and someone from our team will call you.