My experience managing the untaught Construction workforce

My experience managing the untaught Construction workforce

Construction workforce

“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.”  

I worked hard & partied way harder for 17 Years IT career. I then decided to take a fitness break and got into constructing my Dream House in 2014. As I was working with construction workforce (uneducated/taught), I try to relate how the Chiefs of construction able to manage the scope/schedule/dependencies and other Project Management areas. To my surprise, they excel in all Project Management processes. I realized they could have been excellent Project Managers and Program Managers considering the way they manage – Scope, Schedule, Effort, Dependency, Change and Relationship management in IT world. They do not know what is Project Management, PMP but they follow every bit of PMBOK. I learned a lot during these 1.5 years on project Management from these people. As I am back to IT world now, I am able to succeed the Projects better with some of the key learning(s) from my untaught friends.


  • Scope Management: They (Construction workforce chiefs – Mationery, Carpenter , Painter, Scaffolding) all agreed the scope with me (customer) and highlighted what will be out of scope and in scope of the work and got it signed. Most of the agreements are Fixed price with agreed schedule and specifications. Everyone was tracking the original agreement signed and they are quick enough to point out for any change in specifications (originally I agreed for 10 feet floor height for my building and later went with 11 feet) and quick enough to say the specification change will cost extra bucks. Even though all of the above actions are obvious, they are upfront, proactive and no hesitation saying it is change and they even advised alternative ways how to avoid the change. As Customer, I was not upset as the scope is crystal clear with schedule and specifications. In many IT Projects, we get into overruns as our scope statements are not detailed out and ambiguous. At times, you come across 1 line scope statements which are perilous for the project and at times can damage the Organisation, specially when the performance is linked to penalty .


  • Dependency management: They are best at Dependency Management. They used to alert me at least 2 weeks before what all I need to organize to get their work done. They used to express clearly by what date what material is needed and done steady follow ups on dependencies. They swiftly points out that if I do not meet the dependencies, their labor will sit idle and that will cost them and the expense will come on me. How many Project Managers excel at dependency management? We come across situations where customer points out that PM not communicated on the dependencies (Infrastructure, Access, third party contracts etc) upfront with sufficient advance notice and no steady follow ups. Projects will get delayed and costs dear without effective Dependency Management and eventually end up with unhappy customer.
  • Schedule overruns: My house supposed to be completed in 1 year and then got extended for 1.3 years. They quickly pointed out schedule extension and said the timeline extension will have an impact on their cost and labour availability and continuity. They originally agreed the timeline to complete the building in the agreement signed by me. As it was evident in the agreement signed by me, I eventually have to pay more as the building completion took more time. How many projects we could get the Change request signed for Schedule extension? It is predominantly because the Project Manger do not highlight the schedule extension clause in the contract and do not upfront educate customers that schedule slippage will cost customer and the Service provider.


  • Estimations: They gave me detailed cost break down at granular level whenever there is change due to above reasons (Scope creep, specification change, Dependency not met, Schedule extension). I was pretty impressed when the cost breakdown presented to me at low level details. The effort and break down is granular which persuaded me to agree the extra costs. Does PM always provide the cost justification for a CR with granular level cost and effort break up with clear justifications??


  • Relationship Management: They are loyal, good at their work, efficient, predictable and more importantly transparent. They always ensured to tell me upfront when it is going to cost me more and advised me on alternative ways to avoid the extra costs. Even though they want to make money, they have worked on win-win situations and more importantly ensured lasting relationship. How many PMs realize relationship with customer should be LONG LASTING, and not just for THAT Project? 

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