What is a construction project?
Businesses use the concept of a project to refer to a unit of work containing clearly defined scope and parameters. Projects derive from specific business initiatives or client-based needs with a stated end-goal and budget in order to organize effort, delegate tasks, and stick to a timeline.
In residential construction, a project is an entity of work performed by a construction company for a buyer. These jobs typically consist of the remodels, additions, renovations, design-builds, or new homes containing all the financial details, project timelines, documentation, communication, and tasks required to bring the work from start to finish.
What are the phases to a construction project?
Construction work follows five phases:
Phase I: Lead
As soon as the phone rings or the email inbox pings with a new message from a potential client, builders and remodelers gain a lead. In this lead phase, builders and remodelers manage and track potential sales with the hopes of continuing through the rest of the process. Many firms organize their efforts using a customer relationship management (CRM) software or spreadsheet system to document discussions, save files, and delegate tasks, all with the hope of establishing a good fit.
Phase II: Prospect
In the second phase, building firms document the potential client’s wishes and their anticipated budget in order to craft a detailed estimate (or budget), generate a proposal (complete with price, scope of work, and selections), and draft a preliminary project timeline. This shows a dedication to understanding and executing their vision.
Phase III: Active Construction
If a potential client signs a contract, then comes the third phase of construction. In this active phase, builders and remodelers manage “boots on the ground” plus the trade partners and team members who work onsite, all in accordance with the project schedule and scope guidelines. Several key documents make up the backbone behind active construction: invoices ensure money comes in for completed work + change orders capture additions and variations to the original scope + purchase orders commit trade partners to costs and balance your budget. Communication is key in this phase to ensure a smooth project!
Phase IV: Post Construction
As the project winds down with just a final punch list or a handful of warranty requests, the project enters the post-construction phase. Communication with the client may wind down to just those final clean up items they notice. The length of this phase depends largely on the terms of any warranty offered - lasting anywhere from a year to several years. Keep project details organized and clear to ensure client interactions are quick and relatively painless. Everything should be easy to find so there’s no scrambling at the last minute for living room paint colors.
Phase V: Archived Project
All projects end up as archived files stored for future reference. Keep these project documents, even after the warranty period ends, in case you want to reference the information for an upcoming project. Or perhaps a client contacts you several years after the job curious about the brand and color of floors you installed. Saving these details makes for lasting client relationships and future references down the road.
How do builders + remodelers manage construction projects?
Residential construction projects contain several details to manage and track. From the project timeline, budget, scope of work, ad-hoc tasks, employee time, and much more a system is necessary for ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.
1. Manual Methods
Manila folders stuffed with all the plans, budgets, invoices, and other documents for every project provide basic solutions to organizing project details. Email and computer folders similarly organize digital files. With a clear system and consistent naming convention, organizing information into folders makes retrieving data relatively painless. While clean and easy to use, paper and digital folders often sit in certain locations, a particular team members office or computer, making it difficult to hunt down information in a timely manner. Unless a team member understands the folder system well, it can prove difficult for the whole team to work together and feel informed.
2. Project Management Apps + Software
Several applications solve the issues faced by manila folders and to a certain extent those digital computer folders. Hosted in the cloud, these systems remove the barrier faced by team members needing access to information no matter where they are. While several of these tools combine multiple functions together, such as file storage + communication + task management, they often fall short of pulling all project details together. Residential construction projects entail a wide range of details that all speak to each other in some form or another. For example, the work a subcontractor performs flows through the schedule to communicate dates but knowing the scope of that work requires a purchase order to outline the expectations which then ties directly to payment and billing processes extending the web of details even farther.
3. Integrated Construction Management Tools
An integrated construction management tool, such as CoConstruct, combines all those elements in one platform. These tools go beyond simple project management and create a holistic universe of data and single-source of truth team members, clients, and subcontractors can rely on to complete projects. Beyond each individual project, these tools pull data across the business together for business owners and leaders to use for forecasting, procedure creation, and change management.