The term “project risk” can encompass an enormous range of issues—ones that can be quite damaging to a company.
Defined as anything that threatens or limits a project’s goals, objectives or deliverables, project risk includes:
- loss of profit due to cost and/or schedule overruns, excessive changes, or procurement problems;
- contract issues;
- staff issues;
- information sharing; and
- external impacts.
The broad range of categories that entail risk, along with the sheer amount of work being performed on the average jobsite every day and the numbers of variables that come into play, mean that exposure to construction risk is a daily occurrence.
LEARN TO BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE
The good news is that many areas of risk can be anticipated and addressed, first by quantifying them, and then by proactively managing them. Quantifying risk involves systematically thinking about all possible consequences before they happen and then defining measures to accept, avoid or decrease the impact of the risk. Performed during the preconstruction phase, the analysis should be a detailed process that involves identifying margins of error and calculating probabilities, ideally using a computerized, algorithm-based process in which random variables are input and multiple simulations are run, with the results indicating the probability of certain outcomes. After the project is under way, it is a project manager’s job to constantly track and report the status of all identified risks.
New jobsite tools––especially project management software, which has a low barrier of entry for a large number of team members––are vital to the success of today’s risk management efforts.
PROJECT MANAGERS NEED TO KNOW WHO IS DOING WHAT AND WHERE
Whether managing $500,000 or $50 million on any given day, project managers need to have the ability to extensively document project occurrences, as well as have access to real-time data. They need to know who is doing what and where.
DELIVER INFORMATION TO THOSE WHO NEED IT, WHEN THEY NEED IT
This is where construction project management software shines. Best-in-class solutions are cloud-based and can deliver information into the hands of the entire project team, letting all parties know what activities are going on and even alerting key personnel when there is a problem. Proper documentation increases project efficiency, eliminates a lot of rework, boosts profits and greatly reduces errors that can open contractors up to risk.
When searching for construction project management software, consider a solution that addresses a complete range of risks and assists in identifying their potential occurrences. Look for an all-in-one platform that hosts project files in one secure location. This eliminates difficulties associated with employees who leave the company, taking information with them, or with emails that can’t be located. Having a complete set of project data is also useful in the event of litigation, which requires supporting evidence including documentation, time sheets, photos, etc.
Today, cloud-based software solutions provide the following advantages:
- secure storage of documents;
- quick sharing of documents (while maintaining security with permission levels);
- viewing documents from the field using a mobile device;
- uploading files from a computer or mobile device;
- document linking to related information (e.g., when a document is related to a change order, drawing or RFI, those relationships are saved).
IMPROVE HABITS, IMPROVE OUTCOMES
New tools also make it easier to perform inspections and quality control. Like many construction practices, it may seem that inspections are such an established part of the process that altering the system can’t result in significant added value. But the changes enabled by cloud-based tools aren’t peripheral. The inspection process is a labor and knowledge intensive one, and it can be challenging for stakeholders within the hierarchy to get insight into a project. This means that, in addition to changing on-the-ground work habits, software tools improve outcomes.
Cloud-based tools make it easy to quickly fill out forms on mobile devices. The forms are then saved via the cloud, and can be accessed instantly by other team members. File types can be digitally integrated in the field, and this becomes a key factor in keeping related information organized so it can be referred to later. A problem with paper systems, and even early electronic solutions, was that different types of information, particularly photographs, tended to become separated from the project inspection forms. This meant that valuable supporting documentation was lost in the system. Digitally stored inspections, on the other hand, offer a coordinated repository of information.
INFORMATION ON DEMAND
Having quick access to inspection information improves a firm’s security and mitigates risk by creating more inclusive and complete records. For example, when it is time for a building inspector to sign off at the end of a project, it is helpful to have ready proof that the construction management team has obtained all necessary fire inspections, utility inspections, and so on. All information is exportable, making it easy to create PDF files or other document formats as needed.
Managing risk with the help of construction management software gives contractors peace of mind knowing all parties are not only performing their jobs, but performing them properly and on time, with all the documentation to back it up.