Project Management

3 (Not-So-Simple) Things You Need for Every Construction Project

Paul is the principal of Bird Advisory in Perth, Western Australia.

As the “earned” progress for the engineering and procurement components of a construction project climb, it can be tempting to “do some construction” yourself and drive to mobilize.

Be very careful. If you start before you’re ready, you may wind up in a world of pain. There are so many things that can cause delays. Optimism can sour quickly. Lost momentum is hard to recover. And the problem is magnified in remote locations.

There are some great construction readiness checklists and assessment systems available; they’re very useful if applied well. I often recall that one of my mentors used to say, “Construction is a very simple business. In order to build something, you really just need three things: people, materials and a plan.” (He’d say this while counting on three of his fingers.)

Of course, it’s never quite that simple once you start to peel the onion, but I have found this mental framework to be very useful. The three main requirements should be top of mind the day before an activity, in the weeks leading up to an activity—and also in the overall project planning.

1. Labor

There is a lead-time for getting people. It’s vital to have a solid forecast and a realistic understanding of how long it takes to get people. If the forecast is not perfect (chances are it won’t be), have …

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"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world."

- George Bernard Shaw