Construction Management

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This page focuses on the unique challenges of construction management and the tools and processes needed to deliver major projects on time, on budget and to the satisfaction of stakeholders

Topics included in Construction Management:

- Improving construction management 
   - Rethinking Construction Reports 
   - Scope for Improvement Reports 
   - Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI)
   - Construction Education 
- Managing Construction Stakeholders
- Managing time
- Managing construction risk
- Causes of project failure
- Useful External Web-links & Resources.

Other related sections of the PMKI:

- The history of construction management
- Building Information Modelling (BIM)
- Construction & Engineering Case Studies
- Green building
- CIOB Resources
- Dispute management in construction/engineering 
- Claims and Forensic Analysis
- ADR and Dispute Services
- Casewatch Reports – building & contract law

Improving Construction Management

Construction management has a very long and complex history, the history section of this website looks at some elements of the evolution of construction and project management over the last 5000 years:

Carbon reduction and 'green building' are included in the Sustainability section of this website
- click through for more

CIOB Definition of Construction Management

CIOB CMCIOB's definition of construction management is: Management of the development, conservation and improvement of the built environment; exercised at a variety of levels from the site and project, through the corporate organizations of the industry and its clients, to society as a whole; embracing the entire construction value stream from inception to recycling, and focusing on a commitment to sustainable construction; incorporating a wide range of specialist services; guided by a system of values demonstrating responsibility to humanity and to the future of our planet; and informed, supported and challenged by an independent academic discipline.

Download the PDF 


Rethinking Construction

The UK government has commissioned a number of reports over several decades looking at ways to enhance the productivity and value delivery capability of the construction industry. These reports are still a valuable reference and highlight opportunities for improvement that still need widespread implementation:
- The Latham report 1994 Constructing the Team © Crown Copyright: Download the report (PDF).
- The Eagan Report 1998 Rethinking Construction © Crown Copyright: Download the report (PDF)
- The benefits and on-going recommendations updated in Accelerating Change 2002 (Egan & Crane):
   Download the report (PDF)

The Australian government issued a similar report in 2022 with virtually identical conclusions, the only significant difference being a recommendation to use BIM by default - see more on BIM.
Download Government Procurement A Sovereign Security Imperative.


Scope for Improvement

Ashurst's* Scope for Improvement series of reports focused on major Australian construction projects with an average value in excess of $400 million. Issues identified included inadequate scoping (on average 20% was omitted from the contract documents) and inefficient risk allocation.  Almost 50% of the projects finished late and experienced significant cost overruns, the trend between 2006 and 2014 was basically a flat line. Unfortunately, nothing much has changed in the intervening years and the advice and findings in these reports are still relevant today.
- 2006 report: Scope for Improvement: A Survey of Pressure Points in Australian Construction
   and Infrastructure Projects    (or, Download the 2006 executive summary).
- 2008 report: Report into Project Scoping
- 2011 report: Report into Project Risk - Getting the Right Balance and Outcomes
- 2014 report: Project Pressure Points - Where Industry Stands 
*Note: the earlier reports were by BDW prior to that firm becoming part of Ashurst.

Blg: Scope for improvement 4. A summary of the 'scope for improvement' reports.

Blg: Scope for improvement 4 pt2. The management and delivery of mega projects in Australia; focused on the interlinked topics of productivity, innovation and training.

Blg: Defining Project Scope. If a project’s client cannot ask for what it needs, the project team is highly unlikely to deliver what’s wanted!

For more on defining and managing scope see: Scope Management.

Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI)

The PDRI is a tool developed by the Construction Industry Institute™ that identifies and precisely describes each critical element in a scope definition package. It is intended for use during front end planning (FEP)* phase of a project, encompassing activities such as feasibility, concept, and detailed scope definition. It also enables project teams to identify quickly the project risk factors related to desired outcomes for cost, schedule, and operating performance. By using the PDRI method, teams can capture mitigation action items and evaluate the completeness of scope definition at any point prior to detailed design and construction. For more on PRDI see:

* FEP may also be called 'Front End Loading'

Construction Education

One key way to improve construction delivery is the continuing education of the construction and engineering management workforce after graduation. A range of organizations offer qualifications including the CIOB and PMI:


Managing Construction Stakeholders

Stakeholder CircleEffective stakeholder management is mandatory for mega-project success in all advanced economies and most emerging economies, and is a vitally important contributor to success in every other construction project. The ability of people to protest a new development has increased exponentially with the advent of mobile communications and social media. In the 21st century, a single dedicated person can quickly generate a large protest movement. This applies equally to political, environmental and social movements, and as construction projects can affect all of these different aspects, a construction project will inevitably create some opposition. As Spike Milligan is quoted to have said: Money can't buy you friends but you can get a better class of enemy, the larger the project, the more opponents it is likely to generate.

Traditional construction management has focused on the ‘iron triangle’ of time, cost and scope. Today this is not enough, ignoring the social aspects of a project will cause the project to fail! And, if the project is sufficiently controversial, the protest movement can quickly spread globally. The only ethical option to minimize opposition is authentic stakeholder engagement. Two tools developed to assist in this process are the Stakeholder Circle® methodology and the SRMM® maturity model. These tools are discussed within the framework of managing construction projects to optimize the stakeholder relationships in and around the project and minimize risk exposures.

Prs: Rethinking Construction - Stakeholder Management in the Construction Industry.
Many technically competent builders are failing to maximize the value of their work to their client organizations/employers by focusing exclusively on technology, data and processes. By including an awareness of communication and relationship management within the overall matrix of skills used to develop a schedule, cost plan, etc, the builder can transform the perception of the documents value from being seen as an ‘administrative overhead’ into a valuable resource.

To achieve the spread of effective relationships needed to succeed, the builder, must recognize that project teams and senior management have different perceptions, expectations and measures of success and customize his/her communication strategy to meet their different requirements. The relationship aware builder is trusted and relied on by both project teams and senior management, acting as an effective cultural translator between the two groups. Technical competence is still a vital requirement, if this is missing there is no point in communicating, but once the technical issues are conquered the difference between average and exceptional performance is found in the capability of the builder to effectively relate and communicate with his/her stakeholders up and down the organization. This paper outlines a number of techniques and tools, including the Stakeholder Circle® that can be used to identify and map stakeholders, understand their requirements and develop an effective communication plan. See more on the Stakeholder Engagement.

PP: Mega Projects, Mega Problems - The critical need for effective stakeholder management.
Effective stakeholder engagement can contribute to a profitable project outcome, this include stakeholders within the project team, as well as external stakeholders.

  • Within the project, stakeholder engagement encompasses the project team (workers, managers, clients and customers) as well as the project supply chain. Extending the team to engage effectively with the ‘supply chain’ has been a focus of reports since the 1994 including Latham and Egan (see above).
  • External to the project stakeholder management encompasses politicians, ‘the public’ and the media as well as people directly or indirectly impacted by the work or its outcomes.

Fortunately for both groups of stakeholders, including both the proponents of the project (supporters) and the opponents of the project, the art of stakeholder management remains the same. The key steps are:

  1. Identify all of the stakeholders that matter at this point in time – who’s who and who’s important. There are always too many potential stakeholders to attempt to manger everyone.
  2. Prioritize the stakeholders to see who is really important. For the important stakeholders assess their wants and expectations and understand what the project needs from them (mutuality).
  3. Develop specific communication plans for the key internal and external stakeholders. Develop general PR communications for the wider audience.
  4. Implement the communication plan(s).
  5. Reassess the stakeholder community at regular intervals to see what is working and what is not and adjust accordingly.

Communication within effective relationships is the only ethical way to change stakeholder perceptions and expectations to the benefit of the project. Supporters need to be encouraged, opponents need to be managed and their opposition minimized. The skill is focusing on the right people at the right time - two tools developed to assist in this process are the Stakeholder Circle® methodology and the SRMM® maturity model.


Managing time

Managing TimeDelayed completion affects IT, process plant, oil and gas, building, civil engineering, shipbuilding and marine work contracts. In fact it affects all industries in all countries and the bigger the project, the more damage delayed completion causes to costs, to reputation and sometimes, even to the survival of the contracting parties themselves. Without effective time management there can be no effective resource management, cost management, or delay management. Unfortunately, despite the obviousness of this proposition, far too many contracts and contract programs seem designed as highly detailed, ridged mechanisms for measuring failure; rather than using the schedule as a tool for proactively managing time to the benefit of all of the parties to a contract. This website's primary focus in on making effective use of the limited time available to complete a project, some directly relevant sections are:

Easy CPM Easy CPM is a course-in-a-book that provides practical training and guidance to individuals and organizations involved in developing or using CPM schedules based on the Critical Path Method (CPM). It is designed to act as both a reference, and practice guide, for people implementing CPM scheduling after they have learned to use the CPM scheduling software of their choice.

See more, free preview and buy ($35, immediate download).

PP: (The) Effective Management of Time on Mega Projects. Why there are so many problems and how to solve them? - The construction industry’s ability to effectively manage time is getting worse. In response to this challenge, the CIOB assembled an international team of project planning and scheduling experts to develop a Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects (the Guide). This paper identifies the key elements within the Guide that proactively contribute to the successful delivery of mega projects, relate these ideas to practical examples of their use on mega-projects and offer a way forward to improve time management.

Prs: Time management -v- Contract administration

Although much has been written about how to apportion liability for delay after a project has gone wrong there was, until recently, no guidance on how to manage time pro-actively and effectively on complex projects. This paper seeks to address this imbalance by focusing on the effective management of time in the 21st Century. This paper defines the standards by which project schedules should be prepared, quality controlled, updated, reviewed and revised in practice to effectively manage time. And then describes the standards of performance which should reasonably be required of a project scheduler. It will contrast the static approach to scheduling defined in most contracts with The Guide’s logical step by step procedures to manage time from inception and risk appraisal, through design and construction to testing and commissioning, to show how an effective and dynamic time model can be used to manage the risk of delay to completion of complex projects. And will demonstrate that as a practical treatise on the processes to be followed and standards to be achieved in effective management of time, The Guide is a scheduling reference document capable of wide application. It can be used in any jurisdiction, under any form of contract, with any type of project and should be identified as the required standard for the preparation and updating of contract programmes, progress reporting and time management.


Managing construction risk

Risk ManagementThe 'Scope for Improvement' surveys of major Australian construction projects with an average value in excess of $400 million identified the inefficient allocation of risk as a major factor in project failures. Almost 50% of the projects finished late and experienced significant cost overruns,and since these surveys many major contractors have gone into liquidation.
See more on the Scope for Improvements reports.

Managing risk is a vital component of project success for both the client and the contractor. See more on risk management. See also Industry Perspectives on Risk.

Geotecnical risk is one significant area of construction risk.

PP: Balanced Baselines - A Fairer Allocation of Uncertain Risks. The use of a Geotechnical Baseline Report (GBR) in the construction contract provides the parties to the contract with a mutual understanding of the subsurface site conditions (the baseline). The actual conditions encountered are measured against this baseline. If the contractor comes across a more adverse condition than that of the baseline, then the owner pays the contractor more to complete the work under those adverse conditions, and if the conditions are less adverse than the baseline, then the contractor is paid no more than that tendered. The reduced risk to the contractor should result in lower tender prices and minimizes the opportunity for contract claims and disputes.


Causes of project failure

This section looks at some of the specific causes of project failure in the construction industry. See also: Construction Management Case Studies.

Blg: KPMG hit with record fine for their role in the Carillion Collapse. In 2018 the Carillion group of companies were bankrupt owing £1.5 Billion ($2.9 billion Australian), at the time, the largest bankruptcy ever in the UK. In October 2023, KPMG was fined a record £21 million (AU$40 million) for a ‘textbook failure’ in its audits of Carillion in the years leading up to the implosion. This post looks at the failures of governance and a £1 Billion 'black hole' in the accounts directly related to project cost overruns.

Blg: Project or Management Failures? (sources of project failure). The question this blog asks is how many project failures are caused by project management shortcomings and how many failed projects were set up to fail by the organizations management?

Art: Scope for Improvement Too. If a project’s client cannot ask for what it wants, the project team is highly unlikely to deliver what’s needed! Most projects have scope missed until its too late. This article is a discussion on a series of reports focused on scope omissions in major projects.

Prs: Trust: a tale of two constructions. This blog contrasts Wembley Stadium to the construction of Heathrow Terminal 5 where collaborative contractual arrangements lead to an on time, on budget construction outcome that is unprecedented for a £4 billion airport terminal.

Art: Fairs Fair - Process & Procedural Fairness. When you have to deliver bad news to a person, the processes you use are at least as important as the decision you have made.


Useful External Web-links & Resources

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). the world's largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership:

Constructing Excellence - CE (UK) aims to achieve a step change in construction productivity by tackling the market failures and promoting continuous improvement:

Construction Industry Institute™   CII, based at The University of Texas at Austin is a consortium of more than 130 leading owner, engineering-contractor, and supplier firms from both the public and private arenas:

ACAThe Australian Constructors Association (ACA) is the national body representing Australia’s leading construction, infrastructure and services companies. 

IACCM - The International Association for Contract & Commercial Management world-class standards in contracting and relationship management process and skills: Publishes the IACCM Capability Maturity Model to benchmark contracting processes:

ICPMA - The International Construction Project Management Association (ICPMA) is an international umbrella association focusing on international Knowledge Management, the General Annual Meeting, working groups and publications:

Major Projects Association (UK). Brings together learning, innovation and good practice from many different sources such as learning legacies by major projects, other related knowledge hubs and websites: 

Strategic Forum for Construction (SFfC) UK. SFfC brings together the organisations representing the UK construction sector to work collaboratively for a better industry:

WGBCThe World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) catalyses the uptake of sustainable and decarbonised built environments for everyone, everywhere:


Easy EVM

Work Performance Management

Easy CPM

Easy Stakeholder Management

EVM Work Sheet

Stakeholder Work Sheet

Work Performance Management

Stakeholder on a Page

Communication Plan

Risk Register

Risk Management Plan

Project Charter Template

Easy CPM

Easy Stakeholder Management
Work Performance Management

Risk Register