Construction Project Management: Where Does It Stand
Just think back to what construction project management was like ten years ago. Fewer methods, fewer tools, smaller teams and easier-to-understand projects, with tons of paperwork and manual checking of every project detail.
Now it’s 2023 and plenty has radically changed over time. Project teams are considerably smaller, and the projects are more wide-ranging and complicated than they ever used to be.
With new technologies, tools and trends, the domain of construction project management is ever changing. And this change will endure. Let’s get right to the point and take a look at the new construction project management trends that are occurring almost everywhere.
Continued labor shortages will abound
Anyone reading about trends in construction industry publications understands they’ll often come upon content describing the problems of the continued labor shortage. And it’s a multidimensional issue.
Says Mallorie Brodie, CEO of workforce management firm Bridgit, “You can have great project management skills, but if you simply don’t have the capacity to take on the project, then you’re not going to be able to deliver it on time.”
So, what’s the problem?
Approximately 40 percent of our construction workforce are projected to retire over the next 10 years or so, meaning the industry should have the right training programs in place essential to keep the job engine running robustly. It’s certainly no secret that it takes substantial time for the required know-how to transfer between industry veterans and younger new hires.
Nick Grandy, a senior analyst of construction and real estate at RSM US, said there are around 25 percent more vacant construction positions than workers coming aboard to satisfy current and future needs. Another concern is that people reassessed their work-life balance during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many exited their positions in search of better opportunities. That occurrence impacted construction industry trends, too. After all, the public health crisis delayed or stopped many planned builds.
So, what can be done to help alleviate this shortage?
Diversify the candidate pool. According to a McKinsey study, companies are 35 percent more apt to experience financial gains by diversifying their workforce. In addition, diverse workforces boast higher retention rates, innovation and productivity levels, all of which provide both short and long-term benefits. These groups include:
Women: There’s no quick fix to the labor shortage. However, one of the trends in the construction industry that’s acquiring attention from news outlets is the mounting evidence of women moving into the sector to help fill employment-related gaps. According to the Labor Bureau Statistics, women comprise a growing percentage of the construction workforce and their increasing interest should also be a part of any continuing recruitment efforts.
Minorities: According to the National Center for Construction Education and Research, 93.8 percent of construction workers were male, and 58.7 percent identified as white in 2022. Attempts to boost diversity among minorities will help a company shape the workforce needed to support future growth.
Military veterans: Approximately 200,000 vets transition out of the military annually, but only comprise 7 percent of the construction workforce. Recruiting military veterans previously armed with leadership, technical and organizational know-how can effortlessly convert to construction careers.
Recruiting any group of employees starts with your HR team recognizing their distinct preferences. For example, applicants for construction jobs want schedule flexibility and independence in their work. Competitive wages that outstrip inflation are also greatly valued. Further tactics that you might employ to endorse the advantages of working with your construction company include:
- Local partnerships: Emphasize partnering with local schools, universities and community organizations to entice young people to the industry. Lead/take part in “construction” career workshops and create your talent pipeline.
- Team up with a staffing agency: Construction staffing agencies concentrating on construction have sizeable pools of pre-screened applicants amid assorted roles. This way, construction firms will have a better chance of finding the right fit for their specific needs. PDDM Solutions will be more than glad to discuss how they can assist in your recruiting efforts.
- Community involvement: A community-engaged construction company appreciates the significance of finishing projects and steering more progress into their communities. Community involvement is essential to acquiring relationships, networking and enrolling new employees in the construction industry.
Digital transformation is inevitable
If there’s one thing the pandemic taught the construction industry, it’s that streamlining the cooperation and communication among parties on projects is crucial. The best way to promote this mindset is to apply construction management software. More and more companies are implementing these software programs, providing them the capacity to send and receive documents for approval, distribute drawings and bring budgets up to date from almost anywhere.
Also, the shift toward building information modeling (BIM) is just firing up. Designers are employing 3D modeling programs to produce buildings for their clients, letting them perform a virtual walk through. This method will catch design concerns earlier, helping elude change orders and delays, and increasing collaboration.
As of 2020, the BIM market went from $4.5 billion to $5.2 billion but is anticipated to recover from the post-pandemic period and grow at a rate of nearly 15 percent over the next few years. McKinsey found that BIM technology has attained an adoption rate of about 60-70 percent.
Cybersecurity preparation is crucial
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year spotlighted an issue that contractors need to watch closely – their digital security.
Even prior to the war, contractors were acknowledged to be among the most highly targeted businesses for cyberattacks. And in 2022, construction was the top segment for ransomware attacks, consistent with a report from encryption software firm NordLocker, which investigated 1,200 firms across 35 industries.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises, which contractors often fall into that realm, are among the most targeted organizations, and often that is because they’re especially vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks,” says one construction industry official.
The attacks themselves are unsophisticated, he says, with ransomware and business email breaches atop the list.
These types of extortions are only becoming more troublesome as contractors go on to adopt programs like BIM, which arrive with their own intrinsic security risks.
Sustainability is garnering support
The construction industry has had a bad reputation as being one of the major carbon emitters in the world. That’s why green proposals are gaining growing government support. Between policy adjustments and government incentives, the construction industry is participating more sincerely in green design and energy-saving technology. Incorporating modularization and prefabrication into design drives this sustainability and helps firms scale with less effort.
Contractors are now including exceptional practices to make the build environment safer, sustainable and environmentally friendly, such as:
- Employing materials that can be substituted or recycled
- Reducing the volume of energy that is placed into building materials
- Cutting how much energy the finished build will consume
- Lessening the amount of waste made on-site
- Preserving natural habitats during and after construction
The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry is joining together to formulate new methods of decreasing the construction industry’s environmental impacts. One of their initiatives incorporates a collaborative attempt to enlist greater industry support for pledging to employ more sustainable construction materials.
Modular building designs are becoming more popular
Modular construction is quickly becoming one of the more prevalent ways to build in the construction industry. In modular design, a building is assembled on-site from components constructed somewhere else. This method makes it possible to build quicker, consume less energy and introduce more imaginative designs.
The modular design can cut by 50 percent the amount of time it takes to build something that contractors and their clients want Using this design process, construction is accomplished in a controlled factory setting instead of on-site, so there’s no possibility of interruptions as a result of bad weather. And since modular construction can take place concurrently with work on-site, there’s no need to pause for other teams to complete their jobs, producing a quicker and more efficient way to finish a project.
According to Dodge Data & Analytics and other sources, general contractors, trade contractors, architects and developers are learning that prefabrication and modular construction helps cut costs, speed up project schedules, shrink waste and boost worker safety. Ninety percent of respondents to Dodge’s Prefab and Modular Construction Report said these approaches were more helpful than traditional “stick-building” construction.
Says Dodge Data Analytics, healthcare facilities, hotels, motels and multi-family residential are anticipated to witness the most prefabrication and modular construction practices in the future.
Legislation is aimed at eliminating gasoline-powered equipment
California banned gasoline-powered small engines on power equipment, and that ban becomes effective by 2024. For this reason, many contractors will begin looking into electric-powered excavators, loaders and other power equipment – machines that companies such as Caterpillar are already putting on the market. If more states do likewise, these electric machines will be in high demand, and construction sites are apt to turn out to be quieter and safer.
Housing shortage will continue to challenge the industry
Housing persists in challenging the construction industry. 2023 is expected to experience a boost in large-scale residential projects such as apartment complexes. These projects will most likely be aimed at low-to-middle income families. Since financing is turning out to be less problematic to secure for these kinds of projects than it is for retail, they’re gaining the attention of bigger companies usually involved in commercial projects.
Infrastructure boom will last for several years
Infrastructure construction, boosted by the Infrastructure and Investment and Jobs Act, is anticipated to outperform residential construction for the next decade. With government spending, projects including highway, street, and bridge construction as well as telecommunications, energy, water and sanitation will continue to gain contractors’ consideration and bids.
Improving safety and training programs are a priority
Safety in construction remains a chief concern in 2023. Many contractors are beefing up their safety agendas, programs and training courses for their workforce to prepare them for the field. A number of safety experts are working jointly with construction solution providers and internal departments to streamline safety with aspects that will look after their workforce in the field.
Many contractors and owners are making safety a main concern since they appreciate the impact of a safe jobsite as opposed to an unsafe one. For starters, safer jobsites are inclined to be more productive and profitable. When an incident occurs, we only have a few seconds to react, so having just the precise technology and training in place is critical to lowering incidents in the field. To learn more about outreach training programs, visit the OSHA website.
Incorporating IA will improve performance
Artificial intelligence has been here for some time but is gradually being integrated into the construction industry, because of the slower rate of technology adoption. There is tremendous potential, however, for AI technology to enhance both performance and efficiency.
Many contractors are starting to utilize AI for machine learning, robotics, computer vision, knowledge-based systems and further data optimization.
Looking ahead to the new year
As we consider the changes and trends in the construction industry, 2023 is shaping up to be a fascinating year. As innovation endures, contractors and builders are capitalizing on new technology and solutions in the market to finish projects in a safer and less expensive way.
We invite you to learn to implement some of these trends for your company and start the new year off right.