Unless you’re a massive construction company, odds are each project creates a significant portion of your business’ revenue. When a project goes poorly, it’s costly. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to improve your project management practices to make sure that your job sites are running smoothly – and that you’re maximizing your profit from them.

Here are a few tips to better manage your next construction project:

Better Estimate Job Costs

When you’re bidding for a project, you obviously want to secure the work. However, inefficient cost estimates can lead to expensive adjustments later on – with your company footing the bill (or doing some awkward explaining).

Before you take on a project, make sure you do everything in your power to come up with the most accurate cost estimate you can. This includes the basics of knowing how much time and material a project will take, but also getting a better understanding of other factors that might influence the project. Are there any special permits that need to be obtained? Are there any unusual risks that might lead to costly changes during the project? It can even stem into personnel, if you’re taking on an ambitious project that will require additional staff.

Anticipate Employees’ Time

Speaking of personnel, make sure you have a handle on the amount of time your employees typically spend on tasks. Not only will this help you better estimate how much time (and therefore payroll expenses) certain tasks require for future projects, but you’ll also be able to avoid expensive overtime pay.
On a project-by-project basis, efficient management of employees’ time lets you see if you’re over- or under-performing at a job site. That way, you can move personnel around as needed – or decide if you need to bring in some fresh hands.

Prepare for Setbacks

Construction workers are all too familiar with Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will. There are just too many variables during a project for everything to go exactly as planned. Poor weather is the obvious example, but that might be the least of your worries.

The job site may have some unexpected hazards or obstacles that delay the project, a subcontractor might flake or underperform, employees might get sick or injured, equipment might break down, material might be misplaced or stolen.

There’s no way to prevent every single setback, but having a plan in place to handle snafus that do arise up is crucial for minimizing the delay and cost that comes with them. While you don’t necessarily need a step-by-step solution for any and every possibility, your employees should always know when, how, and to whom they should escalate an issue. Anticipating a couple of small setbacks can also keep your project timeline more realistic.

What other challenges have you faced when managing your construction projects?