Project managers and coordination
‘Coordination’ involves comparing documents to reduce errors, omissions, and gaps in logic. At design review meetings, the project manager must organize and communicate document coordination points to all construction team members. Afterward, it is crucial to prepare and distribute meeting minutes. All coordination meetings should be thoroughly documented, with relevant copies sent to the project owner for his or her critique. Not ensuring this coordination documentation is up-to-date will invite costly change orders during the construction phase.
Project managers should coordinate all plans and specifications for civil, structural, architectural, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) contract responsibilities. They should know who is responsible for each area of coordination, and ensure the best results are obtained where installation of one part of the work depends on installation of others. They must also coordinate installation of different components to ensure maximum performance and accessibility for required maintenance, service, and repair, while making adequate provisions to accommodate items scheduled for later installation.
Coordinating the development of a project schedule involves brainstorming by the project team, but the project manager’s expertise in the project sequencing is paramount when developing the CPM schedule. Normally, the project manager is solely responsible for this development based on his or her ability to obtain adequate input data from all contract parties and view the project estimate with a set of drawings and specifications, as well as his or her overarching knowledge. All this is particularly important during the design and construction documents phases. The contractor also has the right and corresponding responsibility to manage and control work during the construction phase.
Specifications may generally describe the contractor’s coordination responsibilities, but should not, except in special circumstances, describe specific coordination activities. Similarly, while the contract documents may specify construction milestone dates and the format of the project schedule, detailed construction scheduling as a means of achieving the specified work results is the contractor’s responsibility. Accordingly, coordination and scheduling of submittals should not be tacitly approved as construction submittals. All contract parties must critique all contract documents defining the coordination responsibilities of the architect, owner, and contractor.
Daily reports—one such document—are another crucial tool for documenting the status of the project. The project manager’s daily report will include weather, work activities tied to the CPM schedule, resources, equipment, materials received, subcontractors onsite, and visitors. In the event not enough resources are available and progress may be impeded, top management should be notified so the CPM schedule will not use up float and critical activities will be completed on time.
The daily report also shows new work on change orders, strikes, testing activities, and photo status of work in place, and can be used to monitor safety. It will also document the time required to overcome any delays, and must be signed by the project manager.
Construction project sequence
Project managers should know the construction sequence to better manage the project. The owner first hires an architect to prepare plans and specifications (i.e. contract documents), then chooses the contractor, and the project begins. Project managers should remember the architect owns the plans and specifications, but the owner is responsible for their accuracy. That said, when the contractor has questions and sends the architect an RFI to determine plan intent, the architect is the interpreter of the contract documents. This means all contract parties could have the risk, depending on the situation.
During the pre-construction planning phase, the project manager should organize the project WBS before scheduling, as defining the project plan gives the manager a capacity for risk avoidance with the project schedule. Keeping updated minutes is crucial to this.
CPM schedule planning, examination, and analysis require one to combat any whimsical attitudes regarding CPM schedules. The project manager’s responsibilities in this matter require daily vigilance and meticulous analysis abilities. He or she should be astute, articulate in CPM methodology, and able to provide timely and adequate input.
Submittals are also among a project manager’s most critical responsibilities. The sequence of all submittals is as follows:
- Approve, fabricate, and deliver.
- Install or erect.
The project manager must monitor submittals and follow up on the monthly review of the submittal log. Some submittals may be on the critical path of the schedule, so it is important to check it at each update and to coordinate with the architect to ensure all submittal data is recorded in as-built documents. The project manager must also monitor the contractor’s submittal schedule and log, as stated in American Institute of Architects (AIA) A201-1997, General Conditions of the Contract for Construction (specifically, 3.10, “Contractor’s Construction Schedules”).
Planning project closeout activities is another key aspect of project management, as a prompt and efficient closeout is financially beneficial to all parties on the project. At least 60 days before the projected substantial completion date, the project manager should have an orderly project closeout prepared, including a punch list, as-built drawings, manuals, warranties, instructions to the owner, samples, lien affidavits, surety release, and an as-built CPM schedule.