Central Roles for construction business

The Holy Trinity – Central Roles for your Construction Business Success 

Australia-wide, skills shortages are emerging as wicked problems for a range of sectors and their workforces, leading to businesses taking on employees who are not the best fit for key jobs. Learn the pivotal jobs in construction delivery where how and who you recruit can make or break your business.

Australia-wide, skills shortages are emerging as wicked problems for a range of sectors and their workforces, leading to businesses taking on employees who are not the best fit for key jobs.  

Skills can be built across a number of roles. However, there are several pivotal jobs in construction delivery where how and who you recruit can make or break your business. 

The heart of a construction business is in making sure the DOING of a scope of work is DONE within scope, time and budget. 

According to global recruitment firm Hays, “Competition is fierce and traditional sourcing methods no longer meet the requirements needed to plug business-critical gaps. 

“Organisations will need to be agile, exploring alternative strategies and redefining the composition of their workforce.”  

There are three pivotal roles in your construction workforce that collectively drive successful project delivery. 

Which three roles should construction businesses focus on to ensure they get work done well?  

Your project manager, procurement and resourcing manager, and risk manager work to ensure your business’s success, profits and reputation.  

In this guide we explore these roles and show you what to consider in recruiting the right people for the job.

Construction Project Manager

The Project Management Institute – recognised as a peak industry leader – describes ideal project managers as “organised, goal-oriented professionals who use passion, creativity and collaboration to design projects that are destined for success”. 

Imagine the concert conductor, arranging all elements and ensuring they work in complete harmony to deliver a flawless performance – valuing each player and capitalising on their individual expertise to showcase a collective outcome.  

A project manager is responsible for the initiation, execution and completion of projects – simple or complex, from high rises to commercial precincts to main roads, rail infrastructure, public assets such as hospitals and more.  

While many projects are well defined and developed with exactness, old-school project management methodologies such as Prince2, PMBOK and waterfall are now making way for the more flexible project management approaches such as Scrum, Lean Six Sigma and Agile that are better suited in uncertain or fast-shifting environments. 

Tip 1: This means your project manager should be well versed in different methodologies and why, when and how to apply them. 

What is a project management methodology? 

A methodology is simply “a system of practices, techniques, procedures and rules used by those who work in a discipline,” according to the Project Management Institute.  

Project managers should demonstrate a diverse skill set that enables them to tailor the right methodology to each project in a fit-for-purpose way. 

Most importantly, they understand how to leverage their project management skills to foster an organisation’s ability to learn, succeed and evolve with a project.  

Co-ordinating complex projects with a number of stages, alongside shifting internal and external resources requires advanced communication and team management.  

Communication is a two-way street, and good leaders understand how to adapt their communication to ensure that not only is their information understood, but that they are also receiving critical intelligence from their team members.  

Across each element of the project, the competent project manager is challenged to balance both hard and soft skills – including how to collect, analyse and report on data for cost, quality and risk management purposes while also demonstrating key leadership skills to read people, motivate them and give constructive feedback. 

Tip 2: Managers organise while leaders engage and inspire. Your project manager needs to demonstrate delivery of each function. Their communication style should be adaptive and inclusive – including having strong negotiation and listening skills. 

Procurement and Resourcing Manager 

The backbone of any business is in its resources – including its people, materials and equipment.  

With the core remit of locating the nuts and bolts of “stuff and people”, the role of procurement manager may sound simple, but today’s market is complex and requires advanced problem-solving skills, agility, innovative thinking and superior relationships.  

KPMG’s 2021 Future of Procurement report states that the role of procurement is evolving. Construction companies should consider that procurement now: 

  • Is a key contributor in the business-planning process  
  • Drives spending behaviour using key insights into spend data, supplier  
  • relationships and risks 
  • Acts as a broker to products, skills and sources of innovation to solve business problems 
  • Is focused on reducing the cost of change and adapting more quickly, for example by investing in digital technologies 
  • Monitors market trends and assesses potential impacts to procurement to foster a culture of innovation.  

Tip 3: Your procurement manager should be a lateral thinker who has the skills of mapping potential solutions and contingencies while also nurturing relationships that enable advanced insights into the ever-shifting supply chain. 

Procurement managers should also have the skills to develop a global-local balance. This means a multipronged approach to procuring and employing locally, including the development of value creation and ecosystems within your local economy alongside a global strategy. Your global procurement strategy should enhance and support your local ecosystem.  

What key skills should a procurement manager have? 

  • Experience in developing cost-effective, risk-managed and strategic procurement strategies 
  • The ability to convey the value of strategic sourcing and procurement to key stakeholders 
  • Advanced relationships across the supply chain and internally 
  • Strong capability in the use of digital technologies, including software and systems 

Importantly, in working across both a local and global context within an environment of constant change, your procurement manager should have the skills and attributes to evolve their roles to remain relevant. 

Risk Manager 

Managing risk is central to enabling projects are delivered on time, within budget, to an agreed level of quality and safely. 

Risk managers identify, analyse and respond to possible threats to construction projects.  

They are responsible for considering any financial, legal, environmental and reputational risks, alongside risks to your construction project delivery and its workforce. 

Construction projects are long term, often running into millions or billions of dollars and, as is the nature of building, face disruptions and changing conditions as a result of the immediate and broader environment. 

Construction management is the process of identifying and mitigating risks that may affect a construction project. Construction risk managers help monitor and control measures to prevent risk exposure, working in collaboration with project managers, health and safety teams, human resources and legal teams to bring the construction idea to life.  

Despite all the rhetoric and money invested in it, risk management is too often treated as a compliance issue that can be solved by drawing up rules and making sure employees follow them. Many such rules, of course, are sensible and do reduce some risks that could severely damage a company.  

Tip 4: A risk manager isn’t in place to simply to avoid risk – their role is to identify and manage emergent risks to your project, people and business.  

Rules-based risk management does not lessen the likelihood or the impact of a disaster such as BP’s Deepwater Horizon, just as it did not prevent the failure of many financial institutions during the 2007–2008 credit crisis. 

Recruitment site Indeed lists the core skills for a risk manager as: 

  • Knowledge and understanding of regulations 
  • Analytical skills 
  • Strategic thinking 
  • Financial knowledge 
  • Communication skills 
  • Problem-solving skills 
  • Ability to work under pressure 

In hiring your next manager, use proposed scenarios in your interviews with candidates – describe varied situations and ask what they would consider and how they would manage emergent issues and risks to both your construction project and broader business.  

Difference Makers

Collectively, your project manager, risk manager and procurement manager hold the key roles that determine the success of both your business and the construction project at hand.  

Common skills and attributes across these roles include the ability to identify, analyse and respond to emergent issues and opportunities, advanced skills in managing concurrent pieces of work, and most importantly, strong communication and team building skills.  

When building your construction management teams, consider the dynamics between the roles and the people in them – ensure they add value to each other – to build a high-performing workforce. A short-term recruitment fix is not the solution when your business reputation and project delivery is on the line. Recruit to build resilience and quality delivery. 

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