Project management fundamentals

Project management refers to a set of activities with different dimensions. It depends on the type of project and the requirements. The management activity could be quite challenging. We can say that it is a discipline that includes planning, organizing, managing, leading and securing resources to arrive at the goal.

It has a defined beginning and is usually constrained by time, quality, deliverables and budget.  The primary challenge of project management is to accomplish all the project objectives and goals amidst constraints and risks.

In a nutshell, we can define project management as the proper application of skills, knowledge, tools and techniques to meet certain requirements.

To achieve a successful project, one has to complete the five phases of project management and its related principles. It applies to any type and level of the project:

  1. Initiation of the project- ideas and plans related to it should be examined thoroughly. Hence, a decision-making team is needed to identify the feasibility of the project. The common goal here is “what should be done?” this question will lead to creating the structure plan. It is the phase when project managers will set a project timeline by creating milestones. It will correspond to the anticipated results and costs as milestones represent different steps of the project.
  1. Definition and planning- the ideas or project scopes should be put in writing with a detailed outline on how to carry out the tasks. It is when estimating or budgeting the cost of materials, workforce, and permits were discussed. A precise definition of the project is crucial as many projects would go wrong at this stage. Thus, the entire team should be part of it. The manager should define the goal of the project using the SMART paradigm (specific, measurable, ambitious, realistic, and time-bounded).
  1. Execution- tasks, and resources will be distributed to the rest of the team at this phase. Everyone should know their roles, commitments and responsibilities. Likewise, this is the perfect time to discuss vital information and related issues. Structure plans, flow charts, and reports should be produced at this phase. It helps everyone to determine the status and lapses of the project, and they will have the chance to come up with solutions. Risks and potential problems should also be identified early so the managing team can look for other possible approach or strategies and avoid delaying the project.
  1. Control- along with the process, project managers will check and compare the status and overall progress of their work. They might do revisions, rescheduling, and other necessary adjustments to complete the project on time. The Project Manager is responsible for managing the team and securing the approval of the client all throughout the process. It includes reports, meetings, and escalation of issues that cannot be resolved by the team. Thus, he or she needs to have strong interpersonal skills, sense of responsibilities and better understanding managerial concepts.
  1. Evaluation- after all the tasks is complete and the project is finished, an evaluation takes place which the client has to approve. It is essential to see if the team succeeds and if they were able to achieve their objectives and goals.

Project management and its process may vary from one industry to another. However, the steps above are part of the traditional elements. It also revolves in three parameters which are resources, quality and time.

Risk recognition is also a vital part of every project management activity. It is normal for any project to be confronted with risks. Thus, the team should be conscious and strict when it comes to implementation of tasks, appointments, schedules and performance.

Should we pay more if we have more rubbish?

In some cities all over the world, trash collection and recycling services are mandatory. Citizens should comply with the requirements set by the local government. Usually, garbage collection occurs once a week. One should use different types or colors of containers for various kinds of waste.

Aside from community garbage bins, various companies offer the service of skip bins. People can choose from their packages and can negotiate to come up with an arrangement. The typical terms and conditions of skip bins for hired include the following;

  • Additional charges may be applied if the waste falls under the restricted and hazardous category such as paints, oils, asbestos, gas bottles, chemical containers and insulation materials.
  • Usually, waste skip bins have a 150 kg per cubic meter weight limit. Likewise, all skip bins have restrictions on what waste materials are acceptable and what are not. Improper disposal of waste to these skip bins will have an additional cost on the hirer’s part.
  • Other companies also charge for extra rubbish of if you exceed the weight limit they set. Waste collectors these days are also charging according to weight or use a pay-by-weight method. Check if your current service provider offers this scheme.
  • Since there is a system of waste separation that garbage collectors are using, make sure that you follow them. Use color-coded containers and segregate the waste accordingly.
  • To avoid extra charges, if you have a large volume of rubbish to dispose of, bring it to landfill sites or civic amenity centers. Carpets, broken appliances, mattresses and furniture fall in this category.
  • If not, consider recycling. There are some recycling facilities where you can bring recyclable household wastes. Food wastes, plant clippings, wood dust, and eggshells could be decomposed to cut down on domestic waste.

In some cases, household waste bins have no weight limit but tend to become pricier. Likewise, some garbage collectors could refuse to accept the waste if it fills above the rim or if it includes liquid wastes and hazardous materials. Hence, manage your waste properly to avoid paying for extra charges.

While some companies offer free services for excess garbage, some will charge you for additional fees especially if they will give you extra trash containers to accommodate all your rubbish. The prices depend as well so don’t forget to ask providers first about it so you can be sure.

How to secure a major construction contract

With the continuous expansion of private companies and industrialization, there is a global market waiting for construction companies out there. The opportunity to bid is important as it can significantly increase your company’s turnover and help your business to establish its name in the industry.

While local governments are now enforcing localism or forcing local authorities to give the job to local companies, the competition is still high. You must be proactive and start planning the ways and strategies on how to secure that major construction contract.

  • First, think carefully and consider different factors to deal is feasible for the business. Can you meet the possible requirements of the clients? How confident are you and your team? Can you still handle another buyer?
  • Concentrate when writing your construction bid. While it is important to highlight the core strengths of your company, it is also best to only commit with what you can accomplish. If you are not that good in writing construction bid, you can hire professionals to do it.
  • Positive feedback and referrals are necessary so gather them from your previous clients.
  • Remember that construction projects from private firms will consider your innovative business ideas, but government contracts exist to support the people. Thus, think inside the box and apply the best practices.
  • When seeking out for construction bids, make sure that you have done your comprehensive research to your prospective clients so you can start planning your approach toward that bid opportunity.

Likewise, your knowledge of the buyer or owners is crucial in securing a major contract. These people want to deal with contractors who follow their policies and those who fit in with their culture, preferences and taste. Knowing them will put you ahead of the competition.

Aside from that, make sure that everything is well-organized with your business. Register your company, make necessary modifications in your business profile and complete all the permits and applications you needed. It will not only save you time during the bidding process but will also encourage the clients to work with you since you already have the pertinent documents.

If you are eyeing government construction contracts, it is better to get professional help to make sure that you understand the process and leave no room for errors.

Finding, bidding and fulfilling any construction contract require knowledge, expertise, and skills. Whether your construction firm is just starting or it’s already a large company, you can count on intense competitions especially if you are bidding in a “full and open competition.”

On the job training

On the job training is employee training at place of work while he or she is doing the actual job. Usually a professional trainer or experienced trainer conducts these types of activities. I remember when I first started my construction career years back I was expected to take part in 2 weeks supervised on the job training to apply my skills that I had learnt during my training. This did not stop there every now and then we are expected to do some on the job training to keep our skills are up to date.

It is the process of teaching an employee to complete the key activities that are needed for the job that they are hired for. On the job training can be done to implement a new system, changed procedure of something, added new task to jobs. Imagine a company you work for implemented a new system of production, will you be comfortable to do the job without receiving any training or demonstration on how to operate this new system. The company can teach one person and the person can be responsible to teach everyone else in different scheduled times. What are the benefits of doing this on the job training?

Conducting training in a separate environment is often avoided by several companies for various reasons. Firstly, it does not waste a lot of time as workers are trained using the equipment they are going to be using in the real job. Usually most people who do not do on the job training even if the same services are done they still need to learn things or activities that are concerned with the specific company. During this time, we can kill many birds with one stone as not only you will learn how to do things but you will get used and feel comfortable in the environment. It is the chance to learn the policies and procedures gradually without any pressure as opposed to when you are working you must comply with these with no fail.

When doing on the job training one has an opportunity to ask questions and to be held by hand throughout the day or process. There is usually a mentor who is allocated to monitor a person when they are new to a job. Without on the job training at times you are confused as of whom to contact for any questions. When doing this training you will get clarification of anything that you do not understand. Prior to on the job training, you can just view a youtube tutorial. For example like the one below on building a brick wall:

 

It is good for the company as they train the person specifically for their facility for example specific machinery. This will help save a lot of money and resources as they won’t be practicing but doing the actual job and thus adding on to production. When a person does on the job training they are working but at a slower pace but at the end of the end of the day if it’s in a construction company they would have added to the progress made.

On the job training has a couple cons that are associated with it. Firstly, the hired trainer may not be equipped enough to conduct the training. There is a person in a company that might be good in doing their job but not good in teaching someone. Teaching is a skill which is not posed by everyone. It takes more than knowing the information that you need to deliver but also the skill of effectively communicating. Furthermore these on the job trainings are rushed to get it done as soon as possible and workers are often swamped with too much information making it hard to remember.

Good work ethics for commercial builders

Work ethics are the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous and worthy of reward. It is a belief in the moral benefit and the importance of had wok and its inherent ability to strengthen character. It is not how one feels about their job but how one does his or her job. It involves attitude, behaviour, respect, communication and interactions.  They come from within a person. In this article, I am going to discuss in detail some of the good work ethics that one must possess to be considered virtuous.  These good work ethics relate to each other one way or the other. This is no different to the work ethics that are desirable for commercial builders.

Dedication is very important when working, it involves one being committed to their work. If you are dedicated you will be able to produce good in their jobs. In construction for example a dedicated worker will work in a faster pace and do his best to achieve their tasks. If workers are dedicated there are lower chances or it is highly unlikely that they will produce substandard products as they put all their effort in what they do. Dedication also includes people coming to work early, attending any meeting, doing good customer services such as helping customers in selecting of products. Dedication comes with positive attitude, there are basically two types of people that can be found at work. The ones with a I do not care attitude and the ones with positive attitudes. Research has shown that people with positive attitudes are more likely to do good at work and most employees desire this characteristic in their employees.

Respect for self and others including colleagues and customers is very important as a work ethic. If you respect other people you will find it easy for them to cooperate. Customers might forget the pace you built their double storey at but will never forget any disrespect that you showed and that won’t be good for the company’s reputation. Respect includes listening and taking orders from your supervisors, reporting incidents at work, treating clients with kindness and respecting client’s choice and their rights for example right to be informed and right to complain.

Workers should demonstrate professionalism always. This includes following the policies and procedures of a work place and acting in a way that is ethically justifiable. An example can be policies that say no phones and this gener4ally means if you use your phone whilst at work it will be breaching this ethic. Professionalism will give a good picture of a company and will also promote consistency in the services provided.

Cooperation and collaboration with other workers is very important as team work is good when people want to achieve a task. When people cooperate, they will be less disagreements and if any arise they will solve them peacefully and this saves a lot of company time and saves resources. A good worker is a self-starter and good communicator. Communication is a good aid to facilitate work. When there is effective communication there are less chances that any ,mistakes are going to made in production.

Why safety at a construction site is important

With growth of major cities and towns everyday there is a new building or project being constructed. There is need for more buildings to be constructed as the population keeps growing every year and new businesses and residential homes are constructed to cater for this. Most people see construction as the most hazardous task but because of the precautions taken in construction sites the risks are low. Let’s discuss the reasons why it is important for the construction site to be safe or practice safety precautions.

Firstly, and most importantly they need to protect their workers and the public. It is important that the workers are in good health and state as if this is not accomplished it can cause long term effects such as back pain and some cancers due to the processes done at the construction site. If the construction site is safe it can avoid some work-related deaths. In the past workers used to die in construction sites as no strict precautions were practiced. Most were caused by falling from tall buildings and this either led to death or permanent injury. The site must be safe otherwise they will have to pay workers compensation if their workers are to be injured at worker and this often very costly for most companies.

It is also a requirement from the builder’s board that the environment is safe. Safety also includes alerting people of the dangers for example signs for the public not to enter the construction sites. The builders board in each state sets out laws that constructors should be educated on site safety and personal protective equipment should be provided for them.

Furthermore, most accidents that occur in a construction site can be prevented by implementing strict health and safety protocols and ensuring these are followed. The main types of accidents which cause death or serious injury on construction sites include falls, incidents with site vehicles, collapsing materials and contact with overload power lines. Health and safety methods will ensure the construction site has good design, good planning and uses tried and tested safety techniques. Poorly implemented health and safety techniques, design and management can result in accidents, illness and even death.

Projects can be compromised if a serious accident takes place on your site, this could halt progress on the project, angering the client and potentially losing the business.

How to choose a construction company

construction people cartoon image

Be it you are building a residential or commercial facility at some point you will need a construction company to undertake this job. There are several construction companies that all seem or claim to provide the same services as the other hence it may be difficult to choose a company for construction of your project. Choosing a good construction company will not only reduce the costs (no wasting of resources) but it will also reduce your level of frustration as you will get what you desire and have less altercations with the construction company. There is no one specific answer in answering the question to how one can choose a good company but it consists of several factors to consider and steps to undertake.

The first thing you need to do is to research on your project that you need to do and know what you want, that way it will make it easier for you to identify the construction company the provides those services. For example, some construction companies solely focus on commercial construction and some residential construction. Furthermore, knowing what you want will help you reduce the costs is you won’t be charged for unnecessary things and it also saves time and material. Consider organising a meeting with different construction companies and have a set of questions prepared for them to answer during the interview. Questions might include the time they take to construct projects and asking for samples of any buildings or structures they have constructed. A good company will have some pictures or good examples.

Some people say consider checking the number of years the company has existed but this does not always work best as some companies are old but not productive or have lost quality services. In this case, I would suggest that you consider the services they have done as some new companies also provide good services as they are trying to penetrate the market.

With advancement in technology viewing company reviews has been made to be accessible. A good company will have good reviews and good website as it is the face of the company. Good companies also have 24/7 reliable customer services. Consider asking friends and family for any references of any construction companies that they have used in the past.

Work with your budget. Of course, no one wants to pay a fortune for services but at times cheaper things compromise the quality of service. If the price is too good to be true then it is. Do not let the price be the only factor that you use to decide as it can be luring by the services will be substandard.

Look for a construction company that provide the services you want and work in the certain location. To avoid high transport costs, it is best to get local construction companies. Finally, go for a company that is environmentally friendly and registered. Environmentally friendly companies are most likely to be conversant on the resources too hence saving you a lot of money.