Commercial construction projects are a huge undertaking. Each building is the product of countless workers, each with specialties, roles, and disciplines that play a vital role in the project. These roles, like architects, engineers, city works and planners, specialty contractors, each need to be carefully coordinated, overseen, scheduled, and budgeted.
This is the role of the commercial construction project manager.
Project managers keep the entire workflow together. In each stage of production, from conceptualization to completion, project managers are responsible for ensuring that each project goal is met, financial constraints are set, the right skilled labor is called in and the building is completed on schedule, on budget, meets the client’s expectations and the end use of the product is accomplished.
Meet Brandon Poindexter: Construction Project Manager
Brandon Poindexter has been a valued member of the Branco team since 2016. His expertise, insight, and strong advocacy for our clients from start to finish is a huge asset to the company. He recently became a Certified Construction Manager, a high honor issued by the Construction Manager Certification Institute. He is one of only 12 people in the state to hold this certification.
According to Brandon, the life of a project manager is hectic, exciting, and varied, “This is what I love about my job. No two days are the same.”
Project steps for commercial construction
Brandon’s role within a commercial project starts at the beginning. As the project evolves, his duties do as well. Before ever breaking ground, construction project managers are hard at work preparing for a project launch.
Prior to construction starting, Brandon is tasked with studying the project’s goals, requested timeframe, and budgetary constraints, as well as any foreseen risks or hurdles to see if the project is feasible. This information is then put together in a project charter.
Next, the project must be outlined in a clear schedule with resource allowances and clear milestones. Once everything is laid out, including a build team, skilled labor gaps can be addressed through the use of subcontractors.
After construction work begins, Brandon is responsible for conducting the symphony of workers, resources, and timeframes smoothly and efficiently. His role is to allocate the right workers and materials to keep the project running on schedule. When problems arise, he pivots to keep things moving.
A good project manager, according to Brandon, is adept at “Being flexible, communicating clearly and confidently, especially if there are issues and listening to those around you.”
Main tasks of a commercial project manager
- Coordinate project estimation process and costs
- Oversee budget formulation and implementation
- Develop project timeline, schedule, and milestones
- Identify and fill contractor needs in specialized disciplines
- Manage client and milestone stakeholder expectations and maintain good communication
- Oversee all aspects of contract and technical details are met
- Coordinate with local officials, regulatory bodies, and building inspectors
- Define key performance indicators for cost, time, and quality to track project performance
Importance of communication
Through Brandon’s varied roles, he believes there is a common thread that helps project managers excel, “Open and honest communication. Knowing what is expected out of each other from the get-go helps ensure the entire project team is aligned and focused with the same goals.”
When a project begins, clear expectations will help each team member perform their expected duties without ambiguity, “This sets the tone for how the project should flow.”
Communication goes beyond the team in the field. The project manager works as the bridge between the office, field, and building owner. It is his responsibility to navigate bumps in the road, meet each unique stakeholders’ expectations and manage the relationship between the client and what happens in the field.
To build these foundational relationships, Brandon explains, “Any pre-construction or pre-bid meeting should lay out the expectations of how communication amongst the project team will flow. If an owner does not know what is going on with a project, it can be detrimental to the experience. Progress meetings are a great way to ensure the owner is involved and their voice is heard.”
How to Become a Construction Project Manager
Becoming a project manager doesn’t have a single, clear path. About his start in commercial construction, Brandon remembers, “The company I worked for built Downstream Hotel in Joplin, MO. This is where I got my start, just being a laborer sweeping floors.”
Education and experience
It is common for commercial construction project managers to have a bachelor’s degree in fields like engineering, architecture, construction science. Coursework should cover construction methods, building standards, and of course, project management. A two-year associate’s degree in related industries with solid work experience in construction and managing small projects is also an option for breaking into the industry.
The most important part of any path towards project management is real-world experience. This can be through cross-training and working your way up in construction, internship opportunities, or training as a project manager assistant or project engineer.
Certifications are not required to gain a foothold in project management; however, they can certainly make you more competitive. Brandon, for example, became a Certified Project manager through the CMAA. This thorough certification was a challenging endeavor but proves Brandon’s knowledge and expertise.
What makes a good project manager?
Brandon Poindexter pointed out that this industry isn’t a traditional 8-5. To succeed, people interested in becoming project managers should be great communicators, flexible, be a team player and excel at prioritizing project points.
He explains that this job can be, “extremely hard and stressful, but also extremely rewarding.” Roles in commercial construction project management are best for people who are masters of wearing many hats and can roll with the punches.
Brandon summed up his thoughts with a Babe Ruth quote that describes the role to a T, “It’s hard to beat up a person who never gives up.”
To excel at construction project management, you have to be a special kind of person. The role is vast, complicated, and moves at a lightning pace. While the long hours and project speedbumps can be tiring and challenging, this is a rewarding career that allows the right person to be an integral part of the building process.
From before the building is even conceptualized to the moment of its completion, Brandon and all our project managers are hard at work making sure each product we build is on-time, on-budget, and is exactly what the client wanted.
Brandon Poindexter joined the Branco team in 2016 and resides in Diamond, MO with his wife and their two sons. Some of his projects include the new Neosho Junior High, Goodman Elementary, and J.B. Hunt Nature Center.