Essential Elements of Effective Construction Management

Construction | December 20, 2023

Construction Managers (CMs) play an important role in the successful delivery of construction projects. They oversee the frontline aspects of telecommunication construction projects and work with many members of the project team including customer stakeholders, internal contributors, and third-party trades. They play a crucial role in facilitating effective communication among project team members and are instrumental in achieving successful outcomes in project environments, whether in residential, commercial, or infrastructure construction projects. They coordinate site resources, manage milestone completion, enforce safety and ensure compliance with standards while continuously promoting efficiency.

Learn the importance of site acquisition and real estate in telecommunications, wireless, and wireline projects and networks.

Understanding the Role of Construction Managers

Compared to Project Managers (PMs) who oversee the entire project, Construction Managers specialize in day-to-day operations dealing with site supervision, subcontractor coordination, and construction-specific challenges. Project Management involves overseeing the entire project, including scope, time, cost, quality, communication, risk, stakeholder engagement, and procurement management. In contrast, construction management focuses on the day-to-day operations of a construction project. CMs are more specialized, dealing with issues like site supervision, subcontractor coordination, and construction-specific challenges. PMs and CMs usually work very closely together. CMs are the boots-on-the-ground working directly with subcontractors, building managers, equipment vendors, and other stakeholders directly involved with the construction requirements. CMs often report directly to a PM. The CM spends significant time on the construction site and sometimes functions as the Site Foreman. In these cases, the CM is responsible for the entire construction site overall.

Construction Management in Telecommunications Projects

In telecom projects, CMs are utilized for both wireless and wireline projects. Their responsibilities include infrastructure deployment initiatives such as establishing new wireless sites in previously underserved areas, increasing capacity on existing sites by adding equipment, deploying fiber optic networks to boost communication speed between network sites or implementing advanced technologies like 5G to enhance speed and functionality for end-users. Telecom CMs are required to understand the fundamentals of wireless technology. This includes knowledge of radio frequency (RF) networks, microwave frequency (TX) networks, and fiber optic networks, while also being well-versed in the associated regulatory and safety considerations.

The Construction Manager’s Responsibilities in the Telecom Space

The Construction Manager’s role in telecommunication projects is complex and begins during the project planning phase. They collaborate with property owners, city planners, developers, businesses, and government entities to identify and address project constraints. CM’s often conduct feasibility studies to aid in site selection at this time. They may provide recommendations to Planning and Strategy teams that consider various factors, such as environmental concerns, zoning regulations, proximity to existing infrastructure, safety measures, site performance criteria, and cost considerations, helping guide the selection of the most suitable sites. CM’s contribute valuable insights to project planning that help to properly define scope and understand cost. They also provide inputs to engineering and design teams for the development of site plans and design packages.

Throughout the construction phase, CMs meticulously oversee progress to ensure the project delivery remains on track while ensuring strict adherence to quality and safety requirements. They monitor the completion of construction activities and coordinate acceptance procedures. When unanticipated changes introduce risk to the project scope, timeline or budget, they are required to find creative solutions that eliminate or significantly mitigate the impact. Otherwise, they must initiate a change-control process requiring formal sign-off from project stakeholders to document formal acceptance of the changes.

Upon project completion, CMs ensure the fulfillment of final quality control requirements. This includes confirmation of conformance with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure the degree to which the project achieves the customer’s desired outcome in terms of equipment performance. Additionally, at this time, the CM prepares a marked-up copy of the initial drawing package called the “As-Built” or “Record Drawings”, identifying all the design and specification changes that occurred during construction. These drawings are included in the documentation package that is stored for future reference and are crucial for purposes of planning future activities at the site including additional projects.

Construction Management—Best Practices

Success begins with the development of a thorough and comprehensive plan. This requires reference to and alignment with all applicable standards, manufacturers specifications and industry best practices. Following standards, best practices and manufacturers’ specifications helps maintain high-quality workmanship and ensures the final product meets or exceeds the expected quality standards. Good planning is the foundation of successful telecommunications project delivery. It enables efficient resource allocation, risk mitigation, budget control, and effective communication, ultimately leading to on-time, on-budget, and high-quality projects.

It is important to identify all possible risks and constraints in advance. Risk identification allows the CM to proactively eliminate or mitigate the potential impact of the risk to the project’s scope, timeline, or budget. Project risks and constraints alike can be accounted for in the construction plan, thereby eliminating the need for change management later on during project execution. A common example of proactive risk and constraint identification involves site access constraints. Telecommunications infrastructure is often installed on buildings or other structures owned by third parties. If the third-party property owner has specific requirements for accessing the site, these requirements need to be accounted for in the construction plan. A site may have a nighttime only access constraint. This scenario will require the mobilization and staging of a lighting system to support the construction activities. In another situation, the risk of bird nesting in the spring can prevent access to some areas of the site that are planned for construction activities. This can prolong construction until the nesting period is over. Another common risk involves weather. Construction crews are sometimes placed on stand-by as they wait out heavy rain, snow, or electrical storms. All of these scenarios can impact site scope, cost, and timelines and can be factored into the initial construction planning.

Good construction management involves frequent communication to all stakeholders. Progress is updated and communicated daily. Meetings are conducted on a regular basis according to the complexity, size, and nature of the project. Daily meetings involving the project team, customer, and other stakeholders are not uncommon. At minimum, meetings should be held weekly. For purposes of eliminating any ambiguity or misunderstanding, all communications are documented. Following any verbal discussions, the CM will follow up with an email summarizing what was discussed and request the participants to make any corrections that are required.

At the time of construction completion, the CM completes a walk-through with the customer to confirm acceptance. At this time, the CM reviews any changes from scope. These changes should be approved by the customer already since all scope changes are to be communicated in real-time and subsequently approved by the customer. The acceptance walk may sometimes result in the identification of exceptions or deficiencies that need to be resolved by the CM. The acceptance walk ensures that any customer concerns are identified and addressed before construction completion. There should be no disagreements following the demobilization of the construction team and associated resources, equipment, etc. from site. Transparency, professionalism and adherence to the highest standards ensure the customer’s experience is positive and the professional relationship among the CM and the customer is in good order for future projects.

For additional information, contact the Core One Consulting team. You can reach us by completing our online contact form or by calling our nearest office location. We are ready to help you with any inquiries about our services or to provide support for your unique circumstances.