Top Weekly Activities For Project Managers


House Plan. Courtesy Caleb Roenigk

Managing building projects can be both frustrating and rewarding at times, as both internal and external forces continually seek to impact, reshape, and redefine the environment in which our project operates. Within our local construction sector, these forces can include the prevailing political and economic climates, tighter budgetary constraints, institutional weaknesses, supply chain issues, corruption, prevailing industry culture, a lack of professionalism and integrity, and access to experienced, qualified, and capable personnel.

Despite being embroiled in these challenges and issues, as Project Managers we are still expected to effectively control and report on the health and status of the key milestones and deliverables of our projects, along with the variables which influence timely and cost effective delivery. We believe that this expectation can be met through a number of techniques and practices which can and should be done on a weekly or regular basis;

Assessing The Project's Progress
Probably the most important, spend time with key members of your team, reviewing and determining the progress of planned works, updating the construction schedule or programme as required. If any deliverable is not on track for completion, assess and ascertain why, and formulate with your team an appropriate plan for immediate recovery. Be sure to hold team members and contractors responsible and accountable for any commitments made and additional resources allocated or assigned. 

Assessing Contractor Performance
You will have a number of contractors or service providers engaged on your project. Evaluate and assess their performance in terms of deliverables, quality, personnel management, safety, claims, and contractual compliance on a regular and continuous basis. Do not wait till the end of the project or its too late. If their performance is unsatisfactory, provide ample opportunities for the contractor to address or remedy any shortcomings. In the instances where keeping the contractor on the project poses a risk to successful or timely completion, seek to have them removed and replaced by another, more competent or capable. 

Updating Project Metrics
Review and update all of your project's key performance indicators, earned value, and financial metrics. These would include planned versus actual costs, cost and schedule variances, cost and schedule efficiencies, project issues, requests for information, complaints, safety incidents, number of defects, material wastage, staff turnover, and variations.  

Prepare And Distribute Reports
Nobody likes being left in the dark, especially clients. As such, compile into a clear and simple report, a brief overview of the progress of the project. This should include the project's financial status or health, schedule, issues and risks, change orders or instructions, key milestones, accomplishments, and any other item that would relevant to the client's understanding of the current state of the project. Every manager's style is different, but do try to include where possible, simple charts, timelines, and progress photos. 

Holding Construction or Production Meetings
Holding these meetings with contractors, consultants, and the client representative provide excellent opportunities for the team to receive progress reports from the contractor (in the the case of the contractor, it may hold production meetings with subcontractors to also receive updates, before reporting to the construction team), discuss and resolve any design, quality, and coordination issues, discuss progress, review and address risks, receive reports and updates from the consultants, and make decisions on key issues related to the project. 

Holding Client Meetings
Meeting with your client on a regular basis is critical to the success of your project. Keep them close. Discuss their concerns, needs, requirements, and challenges. Update them as to the progress and status of the project. Invite their input and thoughts on key decisions to be made, and issues to be resolved. Make them a part of the construction process. 

Review Risks and Issues
Review and update all of the project's risks and issues each week. These can include challenges from the weather, supply of materials and labour, client approvals, responses to requests for information, unresolved design issues, and any other factor which may negatively or positively impact upon the completion of the project. 

These are our top recommended activities Project Managers should undertake weekly. It is important to be mindful that each project and organization is different, and may require other practices which are unique to their circumstances. If there's anything that you believe should be included on this list, please feel free to include it in the comments below.