CONTRACTOR, EMPLOYER AND SUPERVISION TEAM
Construction projects are created because employer intends to invest a lot of money to build a facility, employ people, get his money back and make profit. For the contractor, each new project is a risk, on which he can earn or lose. Our goal is to lead the project so that the Employer gets a quality product at the market price and the Contractor does the best he can and earns reasonably well. For the project to be successful, all participants need to complete their part of the work successfully. The project is not successful if one of the participants loses.
You need to find your own way to build a relationship with the contractor’s managers. Someone feels better if they are constantly at a distance. They don't talk about family, sport, they never go out for a drink with the contractor. Some get too close. I am somewhere between...
I advise you to hold short, informal meetings with the Project Manager of the contractor on a daily basis. It is good when they are at the same time every day. It can be in the morning and you can have coffee together. In that way, you exchange formal and informal information and gain mutual trust. In that way you will find out that the contractor has a problem with lack of manpower, delays in the procurement of materials and equipment or that he plans to claim additional works, etc. Many times you may be able to help or resolve some issues before they are formally asked. Keep in mind that you must always take care not to abuse trust, so many times you should not share some of the information even with the Employer or with your team.
Being fair is key for good relationships on a construction site.
Don’t be arrogant, there is no reason for that. Don't laugh at contractors' mistakes even when they are unbelievable. After all, the Contractor is in the most difficult position on the project. If you were a contractor before you became a Project Manager, you know what I am talking about.
It happens that there is someone in the team of contractor who is incompetent, negligent or incorrect. Such person should be removed from the project. However, this is usually not easy, because most often such cases are on a thin line between the decision to keep a person or not. My advice is not to react to the first one, but also not to have infinite patience.
A relationship of trust with Employer is key to the success of a project. Employer must believe that you are giving 100% of your capabilities to the project. It is good for the project if you can trust Employer that they will have an understanding for the mistakes that will surely occur, if they are not intentional or are not the result of negligence and inaction. This gives you the opportunity to concentrate as much as possible on running the project and spend the least energy on protecting yourself from responsibilities.
If Employer is a corporation, you need to understand the specific relationships within corporations. You need to understand that everyone who is part of corporation must promote himself, show that they are credited for the success achieved and that they are not responsible for the failures. Be prepared that because of this you will sometimes have to play little “games” to achieve the goal for the benefit of the project.
Whether the statutory supervising is part of your team responsibilities or supervising team is engaged by Employer directly, daily contact with the main supervisor (usually for structural and building works) is required and frequent contact with supervisors for installations. This requires your time but you must not ignore it due to other obligations. Brainstorming in the team, exchanging information, re-examining whether something was missed etc. is necessary for the success on the project. I recommend that you hold a weekly meeting with the supervision team, which must be as important to you as meetings with Employer or Contractor.
If you are in position to contract the supervisory services, think carefully when compiling the engagement schedule of supervising engineers. We know that an electrical and mechanical engineer will not sit all day on the construction site for the first few months while the construction is being carried out. But you will need them in the second part of the project, especially at the end, during testing and commissioning process. It is expensive for Employer to hire them 100% for the whole project. And when you need them, experienced engineers will not easily find time for your project because they are engaged in other projects. My experience is that you need a supervisor for structural and building works 50% of the working time for the entire duration of the project, and supervisors for installations 20 - 40%. Of course, it all depends on the size of the project and the requirements of the Employer. Be willing to compromise.
Be aware that in market conditions, all bidders on tenders minimize the price of their offers in order to get a job. This applies to designers, supervisors, contractors and consultants. The consequence is that they calculated hiring a minimum number of people on a particular project. That is why you should not overwhelm the participants in the project with unnecessary work. This means that paperwork should be kept to a minimum. Mandatory daily, weekly and monthly reports should be as short as possible and should contain only necessary information. Short-term plans should have only key issues that affect the overall Time Schedule of the project. We must not allow any project participant to be overwhelmed with requests that we know he cannot meet within the deadlines. If you think that this is not your problem, keep in mind that everything that does not lead to the realization of the project is your problem.