Project Management in Housing Development
Development, particularly in the social housing sector, requires attentive project management to ensure success. And if you are a project manager, you know that this is much easier said than done. That is why we have put together this short guide.
In this article, we list some key success factors for project management in housing development. Use it as a refresher to brush up on your knowledge, as your go-to checklist for project monitoring, or to learn about new tools that could help you in your day to day.
This is a basic function that is too often overlooked. After more than two years of restructuring and reframing, many of us have settled into the ‘new normal’ – hybrid and remote working. Whilst this has many benefits, this way of working can perpetuate the impact of poor communication. Office collaboration and spontaneous, face-to-face conversations with coworkers have been replaced by virtual meetings and phone calls. Not only that, but flexi hours potentially mean that your work day differs considerably to your colleagues. Details can be missed, tasks no longer required and assumptions made.
To safeguard against this, organisations must drive efficiencies in areas that can be controlled. A structured approach to communication, where everybody is aware of the correct channels to find and broadcast the latest information, will reduce the margin for error.
Can you outline to employees and new starters exactly where and who they’ll need to go to for specific information? Can you implement a system that tracks tasks against people, to ensure that nothing gets lost in the ether?
2.Scope Creep Awareness
Scope creep is a term that has come to the fore in recent years. It is defined as the seemingly endless addition of tasks, milestones and responsibilities to an original project once it has already started. Unfortunately, in housing development, this is not a rare occurrence.
It is important to be aware of the problems scope creep can cause. An elongated project scope not only absorbs additional resources and time that were previously unforeseen to the business, but could also impact the start of other business-critical projects.
So how do you go about minimising instances of scope creep? Try the following:
● Define project priorities upfront and ensure all key stakeholders are in agreement as a first step.
● From there, keep track of any changes to the project plan, log side requests and set reasonable expectations. A new team will then have the data and prior experience to ensure changes are managed adequately in the future.
● Agree on a way to visualise the scheme’s progress so nobody loses focus of the end goal, and so project status can be interpreted at a glance, by anyone.
3.Clean, Reliable Data
It is no secret that good data enables good decision making and offers deeper insight into a problem. Good data not only gives the business invaluable insight across departments, but the ability to make the right decisions in a timely manner. It is hard to quantify the cost of waiting, or the cost of a missed opportunity.
Are you satisfied with the tools and systems you have in place to capitalise on market opportunities and remain commercially astute in a competitive marketplace?
Everyone needs to be singing from the same sheet – mutual agreement on decision-making needs to come from a healthy foundation of information parity. You have probably heard of “a single source of the truth” or something similar. Data should not be siloed in separate departments, because we need the full picture to make the best business decisions.
4.Research Best Practice
This is all about gathering information sitting outside your organisation. Have you taken the time to investigate how others handle project management for housing development?
There is a wealth of information out there to research, including across different sectors and organisation types. Staying attuned to industry conversations can help housing development project managers.
You might have heard this quote, popularised by Henry Ford: “if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.”
Think about this past year and ask yourself how often you have taken the time to step away from the day job to think about strategic improvement. Look at your current processes and then leverage the experience of “coal-face” team members to brainstorm alternatives, discuss recommendations or use other creativity techniques to tweak and refine your process, or even make wholesale changes.
Could you “spend to save”? Could the upfront investment of some time and capital result in long term gain and make a positive contribution to the status quo?
Sequel, for example, is a project management software designed for affordable housing professionals. Could Sequel’s single source of truth, built-in workflow and forecasting capabilities improve your processes? Position these open forums and potential tools as learning opportunities and not as criticism of existing practices.
How sure can you be that you are remaining compliant?
Compliance can often fall by the wayside when other areas of the project are not being optimally managed. Furthermore, failure to keep abreast of legislative changes means that some organisations are adhering to outdated policies.
It is important that you allow time in your project for auditing, and for refreshing your compliance policies if need be.
There are a multitude of moving parts within a housing development project, so there is always room for improvement, no matter how up-to-date your processes are.
It’s all about committing to optimisation, investing some time into examining where you can make positive changes, and procuring the right tools for success. By doing this, you can make managing housing projects a much smoother process for everyone involved.