April/May 2019 Edition
by Brittany Olssen, Raken, Inc.
Exceptional construction field management for subcontractors requires leadership skill and know- how to get the job done right. If you are just starting out in the field or have years of experience under your belt, our quick guide has all the answers you need on how you can be successful in construction field management.
What is Construction Field Management?
To put it simply, construction field management is the art of managing and reacting to all the moving parts of a construction project, including workforce, resources and corresponding tasks. Field management in construction should streamline updates from the field to the office. And this is where subcontractors come in—as the basis of the project in the field, good communication begins with the subcontractor. Updates and information originate with them, then flow upstream to the superintendent, project manager and executive, allowing all parties to be in the loop. In other words, effective construction field management is based on communication of updated progress of each individual’s tasks starting with the subcontractor.
The Functions of Construction Field Management
Construction field management at large is summarized in these main points:
- Identification and strategy of carrying out project goals
- Management through the entire process of contracting planning, estimating, procurement, design and construction
- Designation of resources, workforce and equipment
- Enabling communication across all agents; more specifically, workflow framework, task management, and conflict resolution
The Project Manager / Foreman Relationship in Construction Field Management
Construction project managers are in charge of overseeing the construction project from beginning to end. Essentially, they are the main individual supervising field management at the jobsite. From the beginning, a construction project manager (PM) will oversee budgeting and cost estimates to ultimately formulate the most efficient construction strategy. He or she is also responsible for scheduling timetables for all field workers, subcontractors, superintendents, and any other relevant groups. On a larger scale, the project manager will supervise the jobsite’s workforce as a whole. Finally, this individual will coordinate and manage all relationships with the necessary external parties, as well as relay the pertinent information and updates to the executives of the project. This job requires competency in management ability as well as technical knowledge within construction. Since the project manager has such a large range of responsibilities, he or she relies heavily on communication from the superintendent and subcontractors about specific progress on the jobsite.
It’s in the communicating clearly and effectively with the PMs that foremen can do the most to improve their relationship. A good rule of thumb to follow is “when in doubt, spell it out.” That just means that if you ever feel you are over-communicating with the superintendents and PMs on your job then it’s likely just the right amount. Always err on the side of over-communicating!
The Superintendent / Foreman Relationship in Construction Field Management
But let’s face it, as a foreman you will likely not be talking to the PM too much, depending on the size of the job. No, you are going to be working primarily with the superintendent. Superintendents are the go-to individual on the jobsite. While project managers are essentially part of the administrative staff, superintendents are much more in touch with the day-to-day happenings onsite and are more closely involved with the construction crew. The superintendent is responsible for coordinating the subcontractors chosen for the project, as well as the material and equipment for the job. This includes each employee’s roles, responsibilities, and tasks. He or she also manages the varied workflows to ensure the project finishes on schedule and within budget. In total, the superintendent coordinates all onsite activities on a daily basis and communicates these updates to the project manager.
When it comes to improving your relationship with a superintendent, the best advice we can give is to not make them chase you down for your daily reports and time cards.
A daily reporting app can save the superintendents time and save you a headache by making submitting your dailies a one-step process.
How to Improve Your Construction Field Management
For successful construction field management, communication between the foreman and the superintendent/project manager is vital. However, this is easier said than done. While the project manager is the head of the project and ensures everything is functioning as it should, they cannot always be on the jobsite; yet they need to know about everything happening. The superintendents and foremen, on the other hand, see the most up to date progress and are in the loop with everything in the project. Enabling the superintendent/foreman to pass along these significant updates to the offsite project manager (both thoroughly and efficiently) is the key to effective construction field management.
Mobilizing field management is the simplest way to enable communication between all necessary parties, and construction field management solutions can do this. Raken has a task management feature, allowing the superintendent to assign, complete, and manage tasks for subcontractors all in one interface. The superintendent can then keep track of which tasks are open or closed, receive notifications of overdue or open items and follow up on tasks to monitor and report on progress.
With many different parties of interest working on one project, it is no surprise that some things could get lost in the process.
Using software for construction field management minimizes these omissions. With the ease of managing and being aware of all jobsite workflows, foremen can update the superintendent on the most important aspects of what is happening, and pass that info on to the project manager. The project manager is then able to easily update the executive as needed.
All problems can be addressed immediately and handled quicker as to not slow down the entire project. With the ability to assign tasks to any individual, from the executive down to the subcontractors, projects become more efficient. Essentially, these streamlined functions connect the field to office. No more faxes, loose sheets of paper, or sporadic emails and calls. Everyone’s time can be used more effectively for their specific tasks and everyone stays in the loop.
Brittany Olsson is Events Marketing Manager at Raken, Inc. Raken provides innovative mobile technology to streamline field workflows for construction workers. For more information visit www.rakenapp.com