Construction site managers: why they are indispensable

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Demi-Jo Smith, April 14, 2022

Planners, supervisors, project leaders and project managers have been familiar job titles in the construction industry for years. But nowadays, you see more and more construction site managers on large projects.

What does a construction site manager do exactly? And why is this job so important? What are the characteristics of a good site manager? And what do you need in this position to keep an overview of the many, often challenging tasks? In this article, we answer these questions about the construction site manager.

What does a construction site manager do?

A construction site manager is in charge of a large, often complex construction project and is the spider in the web of the project, carrying out many tasks where overview, structure and decisiveness are indispensable. The construction site manager’s main responsibility is to ensure that the project is completed on time, that the work delivered meets the quality requirements and, of course, that the costs remain within the set budget. 

That may sound simple, but it is easier said than done. As site manager, you manage a large group of people, whom you have to motivate in a constructive way. Besides your colleagues, you have to deal with many other parties: clients, subcontractors, suppliers and many more. Keeping an overview is not that easy.

Working digitally in the construction industry is far from mature.

Working digitally in construction

A construction site manager must be good at dealing with people, but also with technical matters such as software. In construction projects, software specific for the construction industry plays an increasingly important role. Working digitally in the construction industry is far from mature. The construction site manager must be able to work well with digital information based on, for example, 3D models and other digital simulations. The site manager must also be able to use digital planning and project tools.

How do you find a good site manager?

Construction site management is a challenging job that requires a strong character. But what exactly are the qualities that make someone a good site manager? The most important and most demanded qualities can be divided into three categories:

  • Leadership skills: as a construction site manager, you manage a large group of people with diverse interests. To steer this in the right direction day after day, you need natural superiority and leadership qualities.
  • Organisational skills: as a construction site manager, you also need to be well organised and work in a planned and structured way. You have to be able to separate the main issues from the secondary ones and not get lost in the details. It also means you have to be able to delegate well. As a construction site manager, you plan and organise all the work. You also coordinate with the parties involved on a daily basis.
  • Communication skills: a construction site manager is in charge of meetings, team sessions and other consultation situations. Strong communication skills help you keep these meetings short and efficient. At the same time, you make sure everyone knows what is expected. A construction site manager communicates clearly and with persuasion. As site manager, you also have a listening ear for all employees. It is important that they know they are being listened to, for example when there are problems.

Good site management leads to fewer risks, less failure costs and less stress for all those involved.

Why is the construction site manager so important?

As mentioned, the site manager is the spider in the web of a construction project. No one will deny that this is a big responsibility. In large projects, delays can quickly cost millions of euros. Good site management leads to fewer risks, less failure costs and less stress for all those involved. In other words: a good site manager, who delivers a large and complex project on time and within the quality standards, is worth his weight in gold. 

The challenges a site manager can help overcome

As construction projects on average become larger and more complex, you as a site manager will face quite some challenges. The following challenges can be expected as a construction site manager:

Construction is becoming increasingly complex

Buildings contain more and more technology. Over the years, the requirements for construction projects have also become more extensive and strict. As a result, an increasing number of parties are now working on a single project. In addition, the site manager must have an affinity with IT, given the ever-increasing role of IT applications in construction projects. Just think of software for 3D modelling, project monitoring, order processing and financial administration.

Construction projects are pressed for time

Every delay costs money. But there is another reason why construction projects are pressed for time: the shortage of housing. As the demand is rising, there is more and more pressure on the completion of construction projects.

Construction is becoming more international

The number of foreign workers in the construction industry has been rising sharply for years. An even greater increase in foreign construction workers is expected. These construction workers are also coming from an increasing number of different countries. The diverse languages and cultures on the construction site make efficient communication an even greater challenge for the site manager. Efficient communication is not only necessary for optimum cooperation, but also for monitoring safety on the building site.

Construction must take greater account of sustainability

One of the most discussed topics in the construction world in recent years is sustainability. This, too, brings along additional tasks and responsibilities for the site manager. The site manager monitors the requirements in the field of sustainability, as they can be found in building regulations. In addition, the site manager may have to deal with extra inspections, for example by parties that monitor compliance with the regulations in the area of the environment and sustainability.

Fortunately, the site manager is not completely on his own. He or she is often supported by an administrative assistant or assistant site manager.

Digital tools: support for the site manager

There are useful IT tools that make the work of the site manager easier. In addition, the right software, such as a Document Management System (DMS), is simply indispensable in the construction industry today. 

Better project administration with a DMS

In short, all the challenges would almost make you think that a construction site manager has to be some kind of superhero. That, of course, is a bit of an exaggeration. However, it is certainly true that a site manager has a tough job with a lot of responsibility.  

The site manager makes a lot of decisions. This can be done better and faster on the basis of a complete, reliable and well-organised project administration. With the right software, such as a Document Management System, the construction site manager has, among other things:

  • More grip on all processes within the project, from administration to realisation;
  • Reliable and fast access to relevant data, preferably from a single database;
  • Up-to-date insight into the status of the project at any time;
  • More opportunities for reducing failure costs, for example by recording processes in workflows.