Onsite Building Construction Management Basics
The definition of onsite construction
Onsite construction, as a term, is relatively simple and self-explanatory – it is a vast array of operations performed at the physical location of the construction project, be it before or after it is completed. However, onsite construction is far from simple – and one of the biggest reasons for that is the sheer number of different stakeholders and other parties involved in every single construction project.
Every single project participant performs their own task, which is why reducing the number of participants is not the solution to this particular problem. As such, the only way to optimize onsite construction is to manage it more effectively – since proper management and collaboration directly correlate with the overall efficiency of every project’s completion.
At the same time, building a unique process sequence for every single project is extremely time- and resource-consuming, so there is a dire need for standardization of sorts for these kinds of processes. This should allow stakeholders to communicate more efficiently, increasing trust, improving performance, and learning from their own mistakes/predicting potential issues.
Traditional construction onsite
Onsite construction has been going through several drastic changes for a while now, with most of these changes centered around the ongoing digitalization and all of the benefits that come with it. However, it is important to understand how onsite construction worked before this process began to understand the importance of all these changes properly.
The sheer complexity of every single construction project should make it clear how difficult it is to properly manage onsite construction. The problem is made worse when the primary method of information sharing is via pen and paper – which makes reporting and collaboration far more difficult than they already are.
Consequently, project managers have to spend most of their work time on site for the entirety of the project building phase, managing different parts of the process and ensuring that every single participant of this process does their job correctly and on time. The price of an error here is incredibly high, and even the slightest miscommunication is capable of causing delays, budget overruns, and other issues for both the project and everyone involved.
Most issues during this stage come from miscommunication and/or lack of information for a specific party, be it one of the stakeholders or even the project manager. The lack of information about the construction process on the side of the project manager means that said manager would not be able to hold stakeholders accountable for their assigned tasks.
Elements of onsite construction
It should be rather clear by now that onsite construction management is an incredibly sophisticated process that comes with a lot of pressure and demands proper cooperation between stakeholders for the project in question to be completed in the first place. However, we have yet to talk about the different parts of the onsite construction process.
There are usually three large groups of tasks that onsite construction is comprised of – maintenance, property management, and construction itself. Knowledge of different parts of the construction process onsite makes it easier to understand why digitalization is necessary for onsite building construction management.
The most obvious part of onsite construction as a process is the actual construction – an assortment of tasks and operations that create a large part of the entire building phase of the project. This part also includes equipment selection/acquisition. The main goal of the “construction” part of onsite construction is to deliver the project per all of the client’s requirements, including schedule, cost, quality, safety, and so on.
Proper maintenance of an already-built property is an incredibly important part of onsite construction, even though it is not involved in the actual building phase at all. The lifecycle of a building depends entirely on how well it is maintained over the years, and proper onsite construction management can greatly improve the number of years a regular building can hold.
Getting back to the construction phase, property management is an essential part of onsite construction purely because it represents how well-informed the client is about the project’s current state. That way, clients have an easier way to manage their projects (especially if multiple constructions are going on simultaneously), and construction companies communicate with the client regularly, reducing the chances of a sudden change or modification late into the construction stage.
Modern onsite construction
One of the biggest advantages of digitalization for onsite construction management is that it becomes significantly easier to keep up with all the different processes during the day without overwhelming your project manager. The overall centralization of information about the project status also works wonders when it comes to collaboration and the overall productivity of a project.
Generally speaking, here are some of the more prominent benefits of onsite construction management digitalization:
- A digital source of truth that is identical for every single participant of the project, which basically eliminates miscommunication between stakeholders
- The gap between the office and the field in terms of how the project is viewed is that much easier when everyone has access to the project model via a mobile device or laptop
- It is far easier to follow the originally outlined project schedule because every participant is aware of the time constraints and knows what they specifically have to do for the entire process to be completed in time
Project delays and budget overruns are incredibly frequent in the construction industry, which is why it should not be problematic to convince different players to digitalize their processes, including onsite construction management. Unfortunately, the construction industry is well-known as one of the most conservative industries in the first place, resisting any meaningful change for as long as they can, even if the change brings in an overwhelming number of benefits, as was the case with Building Information Management, for example.
Offsite construction comparison
That’s not to say that onsite construction management is the only way to approach project creation in the construction industry as a whole. Offsite construction is a plausible alternative for that, and it also gained much traction in recent years. It focuses on prefabrication and offsite building as the means of reaching the ever-rising standard for budgeting and deadlines.
Offsite construction relies a lot on fabricating large structure parts outside of the construction site; this offers bigger flexibility in planning compared with onsite construction management. However, these parts would still have to be transported and assembled on-site, even though this process is much faster than onsite construction.
There is also the ever-present issue of skilled labor in the industry since the demand for specialists is a lot higher than the supply – it also makes offsite construction that much more preferable since a lot of pre-production is performed automatically using CNC machinery of sorts. Many companies already invest in the offsite construction industry for the sake of future-proofing themselves, with Amazon being one of the biggest examples of this strategy.
Other advantages of offsite construction include waste reduction, lower CO2 emissions, better worker safety, and so on.
Onsite construction management and software
Construction software is a significant driver of progress in the field, changing how the entire industry works, from communication to different processes. However, this software still has a lot of value that many specialists are missing out on by not utilizing it to its full potential.
There are a lot of different benefits that onsite construction software can provide, and here are just some examples:
- Visual representation of a project’s current status improves productivity and efficiency
- A single source of truth greatly improves collaboration with tasks, activities, documents, etc.
- Easier creation of reports and dashboards about current progress regularly (such as on a daily basis)
- Forcing the field team to use digital means of reporting instead of pen and paper, meaning that the centralized model would receive all of the updates and documents about the current project state in real time
- The ability to use a single solution for several tasks reduces administrative burden and makes more time for important tasks to commence instead
One of the biggest challenges of digitalization is convincing your employees to change their habits when it comes to daily work routines, offering a more convenient and transparent way to work.
A good example of such a solution is Revizto – a BIM collaboration platform with many different features, including a centralized work environment, easier collaboration, and more. The more important part of this solution is its phone app (available starting April 12) that offers a variety of desktop features as a smartphone experience, from object properties and appearance templates to issue tracking, orbit view, section cuts, and more.
These solutions are a great way of optimizing large parts of your construction process, gaining massive benefits from them without any serious drawbacks.
Onsite construction standardization and adoption
A large part of any adoption process is standardization – ensuring plenty of procedures and guidelines for all kinds of situations in place. Onsite building construction management digitalization would be a lot more difficult without a company attempting to implement some form of standardization beforehand. That software would also be able to boost the effort in question greatly.
It is also highly recommended for these kinds of digital tools be implemented at the early stages of a construction project, first and foremost, since this is where the overall effect would be much easier to notice – gathering and sharing more information about the project and using that information to improve the rest of the processes gradually.
That’s not to say that every onsite construction management software should do everything we have mentioned before simultaneously. However, one part of that software that should always be present is the ability to communicate and interact between different teams, especially if one team is onsite and the other is in the office. This exact gap creates so many issues; there is a large disconnect when it comes to the current project state between one side and the other.
There is no need for the entire digital platform to be implemented at once. This approach may even be detrimental to your entire business if you’re unaware of where your current system is and what would be easier to implement. A slow, gradual expansion of the digitalization process is a far more effective approach than sudden change for every single process in the company.
A team that already has proper communication systems in place would have a much easier time implementing these kinds of changes since both monitoring and reporting are necessary for onsite construction management digitalization efforts to go through smoothly. It helps with the workflow in general, improves the quality of work, reduces miscommunication, and so on.