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10 Expert Top Tips for Managing Your Next Civil Engineering Project

Civil Engineering

Managing a civil engineering project is difficult, but necessary to modern living. Whether it’s building a bridge, paving a road or setting up an airport, civil engineering has to be handled with the utmost care and competency.

These are ten tips to help construction managers and anyone overseeing a civil engineering project ensures that they lead a smooth build that benefits all involved. Being a manager of a civil engineering project is hard work, but it can be made easier if you make use of these tips.

1. Prepare for the worst

As the old saying ‘prepare for the worst, hope for the best’ goes, it’s highly important to make sure that you are constantly planning and preparing, as Smart Sheet writes. A good manager will have a detailed, well put-together plan that they revise and alter as the project goes on. Information or plans shouldn’t ever be outdated. The three stages of a project – the designing, the pre-constructing and the actual construction – should all have detailed, clear and concise plans by which the construction adheres to. If designing and pre-planning are proving to be too difficult for your civil engineering project, firms specializing in civil engineering project management can help with important steps like land survey and development plans.

Any slight changes, pitfalls should be accounted for and reflected in the plans; timelines may need to be updated, additional materials and equipment may be needed, and personnel may come and go. All the information in these plans should be as accurate as possible.

2. Keep communication open

Smart Sheet points out the importance of constantly communicating with your team. You can’t be everywhere at once, so it’s deeply important to make sure you’re kept abreast of each facet of the project. You’ll be able to solve problems quickly and more easily, and you’ll be able to reduce the overall number of projects because of your knowledge.

A good way to keep communication lines open is email threads and group texts. Emails or texts that cc everyone ensures that information is spread to everyone quickly. It saves time as no one has to be the middleman when it comes to passing on the info.

3. Be well-informed

This goes hand-in-hand with open communication. Not only do you need to ensure that you’re being kept up to date by your own subordinates, but you need to also make sure that you’re constantly asking questions and ensuring that your information is as accurate as possible. Relying strictly on word-of-mouth information can lead to getting incorrect info, which can negatively affect the decisions you make regarding the project.

A good way to stay informed is to simply be on the site of the project, Smart Sheet recommends. Seeing a problem for yourself will help you take care of it faster, and you’ll be more knowledgeable when it comes to answering questions and handling the inevitable issues that crop up over the course of the build.

Scheduling regular visits are highly important, as is holding meetings or conversing with the designers and contractors, preferably on the job site itself.

4. Budget smartly

Smart Sheet notes that a lot of money goes into a civil engineering project. From worker’s wages to construction materials and construction permits to equipment, it can be easy to let the figures get away from you.

In addition to keeping in close contact with any accountants on your team, Smart Sheet recommends work education platforms to keep track of finances and ensure that every penny is accounted for. Going over budget is never a good idea!

5. Should know what their fellow co-workers’ jobs are

A manager, as said earlier, should be constantly communicating with the designers and contractors that are working on the project. While this is helpful in keeping informed on the build and all the perspectives and manpower that are going into a project, it’s also just as important that a manager knows just what their co-workers’ jobs entail.

A designer will be tempted to use proper jargon to explain their plans, and will likely use their own programs and blueprints for the manager to review. This won’t do the manager much good if they are ignorant to the terms designers use, can’t easily read a blueprint, or don’t know how to open the design files sent to them. A good manager will make it a point to be educated in what their fellow workers’ jobs are, whether they acquire this information from their own independent research or by asking the people themselves.

6. Treat your workers with respect

This may seem obvious, but many managers will be tempted to ‘crack the whip’ and try to push their workers to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. GenieBelt reinforces that this is not the way to go.

The project will likely put you in contact with people of all experience levels. Though you may be working with a team of people who mostly are familiar with the industry, you may be working with a few inexperienced newbies as well as older professionals who are stubbornly set in their ways and years of experience under their belts.

Disrespecting or mistreating your workers will only ensure that the job gets done more slowly and perhaps with less quality. No one wants to work under a manager that breathes down their neck, and workers will be tempted to slack off just to offset the added stress.

7. Manage correctly

Another one that seems obvious, many managers fail to do this. GenieBelt affirms that you need to assign the right job to the right person. Assigning jobs willy-nilly and simply giving tasks to the first person in front of you can lead to disorganization and confusion. Giving people tasks that aren’t in their job description is also a guarantee that the work won’t be done properly.

You also cannot give the lesser-paid workers big tasks, nor can you give the higher-ups more labor-intensive jobs. Giving a well-paid senior staff worker a task for a worker below their paygrade will deeply offend them, and will ensure that the task is done as quickly – not efficiently – as possible. Giving a lower-paid worker a complex task that they weren’t trained for will get you similar results.

8. Use reporting systems

This also somewhat ties in to open communication. Smart Sheet recommends using a program to ‘concentrate’ comments and schedules to lessen your workload, as well as assisting in status reports.

A big part of a manager of a civil engineering project is to frequently send out spreadsheets and status reports. This can be a very time-consuming and stressful task, and an online reporting system ensures that the reports go out on time and to the correct recipients.

9. Handle your time well

Time management is just another thing a manager has to manage. Making sure that the project is sticking to its schedule and that you’re staying on top of your own tasks is a hard juggling act. You could, as GenieBelt writes, end up putting the important stuff on the back burner. It’s important to recognize your deadlines and tackle the stuff that needs to get first and worry about things that are due later at a later date. Problems that slow or halt construction take priority over anything else, of course.

You must keep your tasks organized, and anything from a simple planner or the calendar app on your phone to a personal assistant can help you keep your mind clear and schedule from getting muddled.

10. Take responsibility

Perhaps the most important rule is to take the responsibility seriously. As a manager, you have a lot on your shoulders. You’re managing lots of the money, overseeing dozens of workers that are collecting a paycheck from you, and ensuring that everyone is as safe as can be.

The first way to be responsible is to completely read through the contract document. GenieBelt writes that many managers don’t read through the contract until they need to – that is, when something goes wrong. Not reading through the contract means you don’t know if everyone is holding up their side of the bargain, and

Secondly, make sure the building – or whatever your team is building – is built properly. From ensuring that quality materials are used to double-checking the workmanship, it is your responsibility to make sure that the building is sturdy and safe.

Hopefully, this article has been helpful in providing insight to all the different aspects of civil engineering. Managing a civil engineering project is a difficult yet rewarding job. Though you have to constantly multitask, oversee dozens of workers and constantly compose reports and spreadsheets, you’re playing a big role in advancing society and making life a bit more comfortable for a town or city. Construction and building are necessary, important components of modern living, and by ensuring that new buildings are safe, well-made and made in a reasonable amount of time will improve the lives of those in the area and potentially bring in new jobs to stimulate the local economy.

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