Construction Project Management Lifecycle: An Overview

Jackson Row
Jackson Row
February 27, 2024

Construction and capital works projects are complex ventures that require detailed planning, project management, and organization. Central to the successful completion of a project lies the construction project management lifecycle, which provides a structured framework for client side project managers and stakeholders from project inception to post-construction phases.

Let us walk you through the various stages of the construction project management lifecycle and explore the key processes, best practices, and critical considerations that will steer your project completion to success.  

1. Project Inception

There are several phases in a construction project, with the project inception phase being the first and one of the most critical stages. This phase involves:

A. Initiation

i. Identifying Project Objectives

Before undertaking anything associated with planning or design, the client side project manager must clearly define the project's objectives. This involves understanding the client's needs, project scope, and overall goals.

ii. Business Case

Conducting a thorough business case analysis helps in assessing the project's viability. At a high level, it outlines the rationale, objectives, costs, benefits, risks, and other pertinent factors associated with the project.

The Project Inception Phase is a crucial step in procuring a capital project.
The Project Inception Phase is a crucial step in procuring a capital project.

B. Planning

i. Developing a Project Management Plan

A detailed project plan outlines the scope, timelines, resources, and budget. It serves as a roadmap, guiding the project team throughout the construction lifecycle.

ii. Funding Allocation

Funding allocation involves determining the financial resources required and securing appropriate funding sources to initiate project planning and development activities.

2. Design Phase

The design phase involves creating and finalizing the project's design. This phase is crucial as it sets the blueprint for the actual construction.

A. Concept Design

The initial stage of the design phase, whereby ideas and visions are translated into design concepts. It involves open discussion/brainstorming, sketching, and exploring various design possibilities to establish the aesthetic, functional layout, and spatial relationships, all contributing to the proposed construction project. This stage guides stakeholders in refining the project vision and establishes a framework for further planning and implementation.

B. Schematic Design

Schematic design in construction is the phase where initial design concepts are developed into more detailed and refined plans, often involving rough sketches and diagrams. It aims to explore different design options and establish the project's basic structure, form, and spatial relationships. Schematic design bridges the conceptual phase and the detailed design development, laying the groundwork for further refinement and evaluation.

Finalizing the design helps pin down all the details needed for the construction phase.
Finalizing the design helps pin down all the details needed for the construction phase.

C. Detailed Design

Detailed design is the phase where the conceptual and schematic designs are transformed into comprehensive, detailed plans and specifications. It involves specifying materials, dimensions, and technical details necessary for construction, ensuring all aspects of the project are thoroughly documented. Detailed design serves as the blueprint for construction, providing the necessary guidance and instructions for contractors to execute the project accurately and efficiently.

D. Tender Documentation

Tender documentation in construction comprises a set of comprehensive documents prepared by the project team to invite bids from contractors for the construction work. It typically includes detailed specifications, drawings, terms and conditions, and other relevant information for contractors to understand the project requirements and submit competitive bids. Tender documentation serves as a crucial communication tool between the client and potential contractors, facilitating the selection of a suitable contractor for the project.

Read more: How to Win a Tender

E. Authorities & Approvals

The authorities and approvals stage in construction involves obtaining the necessary permissions, licenses, and clearances from relevant regulatory bodies and authorities before commencing construction activities. This process typically includes securing permits for building, zoning, environmental compliance, and other legal requirements mandated by local, state, or national regulations. Successful completion of the authorities and approvals stage ensures that the project complies with all legal and regulatory standards, mitigating risks and ensuring smooth progress throughout the construction process.  

3. Procurement Phase

The procurement phase of the construction lifecycle considers acquiring services, materials, and equipment necessary for construction. While often procured directly by the contractor or respective design consultants on behalf of the client, the client side project manager is still associated through overseeing and monitoring the process.

A. Material Sourcing

Material sourcing involves identifying, evaluating, and selecting suppliers to acquire the necessary materials and supplies for the project. It aims to ensure the timely procurement of high-quality materials at competitive prices, adhering to project specifications and budgetary constraints.

With all the preparation from the first two stages, it's time to win that tender.
With all the preparation from the first two stages, it's time to win that project proposal.

B. Request for Proposal (RFP)

The Request for Proposal (RFP) process entails inviting bids from potential contractors by outlining project requirements, scope, and evaluation criteria. This process facilitates the selection of a qualified contractor based on their proposed approach, experience, pricing, and other relevant factors, ensuring the best fit for the project's needs. We wrote a guide on how you can send out a winning RFP.

C. Contractor Appointment

Contractor appointment involves selecting and formally hiring a contractor to execute the construction work based on the evaluation of proposals and the negotiation of contract terms. This critical step establishes the contractual relationship between the client and the contractor, setting the stage for project execution according to agreed-upon terms, timelines, and deliverables.

4. Construction Phase

The phase everyone has been waiting for - the construction phase. This is where all the planning and preparation come to life.

A. Project Kick-Off

i. Project Kick-Off Meeting

The project kick-off meeting marks the official commencement of the project and brings together key stakeholders, including the client, project team, and contractors. This meeting aligns everyone on project goals, timelines, roles, responsibilities, and communication protocols, setting the tone for effective collaboration and successful project delivery.

ii. Site Mobilization

Site mobilization involves setting up the necessary infrastructure, equipment, and facilities at the project site to commence construction activities. This process ensures that the site is prepared for construction work to begin efficiently and safely, laying the groundwork for the subsequent phases of the project.

B. Monitoring and Controlling

Monitoring and controlling within the construction phase of a construction project involves overseeing progress, quality, costs, and risks to ensure adherence to the project plan and specifications. This process includes tracking project milestones, conducting inspections, managing changes, and implementing corrective actions as needed to maintain project efficiency and mitigate potential issues, ultimately facilitating the timely and successful completion of the construction project.

Additionally, this stage involves regular communication among project stakeholders, documentation of progress, and performance metrics to assess project performance against predetermined benchmarks, enabling proactive decision-making and effective management of resources throughout the construction phase.

All the preparation has come to this point: the construction phase. Here, you start seeing the plans come to life!
All the preparation has come to this point: the construction phase. Here, you start seeing the plans come to life!

C. Project Completion

i. Practical Completion

Practical completion marks the stage when the construction work is deemed substantially complete and ready for its intended use. Through achieving this milestone within the construction schedule, construction is completed as defined within the contractual clauses, except for minor defects that do not impede the functionality or occupancy of the building.  

Read more: How to Obtain a Practical Completion Certificate

ii. Punch List

The punch list stage involves creating a detailed list of incomplete or deficient items that must be addressed before final project acceptance. These items typically include minor defects, finishing touches, or deviations from the project specifications identified during inspections, and contractors must rectify them to fully comply with the project requirements.

iii. Compiling Project Documentation

This stage involves gathering and organizing all relevant documentation generated throughout the project. Often, this includes, but is not limited to, permits, inspection test plans (ITPs), testing and commissioning reports, policies and warranties, and as-built construction documentation. Compiling project documentation ensures that comprehensive records are maintained for future reference, regulatory compliance, and handover to the client, facilitating transparency, accountability, and effective project management.

iv. Conducting Final Inspection

Conducting a final inspection with relevant authorities or stakeholders entails a comprehensive evaluation of the completed construction project to ensure compliance with project specifications, building codes, and quality standards. This inspection typically involves a walkthrough of the entire site, identifying any remaining deficiencies, defects, or deviations from the approved plans.

v. Obtaining Certificates

Obtaining completion certificates involves applying for and securing official documentation from relevant authorities confirming that the construction work complies with all applicable regulations, codes, and standards. These certificates formally recognize the project's completion and adherence to legal requirements, facilitating the transition to occupancy or operational phases.

D. Client Handover or Occupancy

Client handover or occupancy signifies the transfer of the completed project from the contractor to the client, allowing the client to take possession and use the facility. This process involves the formal handover of keys, documentation, and any necessary training or instructions to the client, ensuring a smooth transition to operational use.

V. Post-Construction Phase

A. Maintenance and Warranty

The maintenance and warranty stage involves the ongoing care and upkeep of the completed project to ensure its optimal functioning and longevity. During this stage, maintenance activities such as routine inspections, repairs, and preventive maintenance are performed to address any issues that may arise and maintain the facility's quality.

Additionally, the warranty period stipulated in the contract allows the client to report and rectify any defects or deficiencies covered under the contractor's warranty, ensuring that the project meets the agreed-upon standards and specifications even after completion.

The Project Closeout is the final stage in a construction and capital works project.
The Project Closeout is the final stage in a construction and capital works project.

B. Project Close-Out

The project close-out stage involves completing all remaining administrative and contractual tasks to formally conclude the project. This includes finalizing documentation, settling financial accounts, obtaining necessary approvals, and releasing any remaining retainage or bonds. Additionally, it may involve conducting a post-project review to evaluate lessons learned and document successes and challenges for future reference, ensuring the client's successful closure of the project.

Conclusion

The construction project management lifecycle is not just a framework but a roadmap to success. It provides the necessary guidance and structure for managing the complexities of construction projects, ensuring that each phase contributes to the goal of delivering a safe, functional, and sustainable project. As the construction industry evolves, this lifecycle will continue to serve as a foundational element in pursuing excellence in construction project management.

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