The Art of Managing Subcontractors

Most construction projects rely on utilizing subcontractors for their expertise and resources to handle specific tasks within the project. By employing subcontractors, the project manager can focus on the best way to allocate resources for the timely completion and overall quality of the project. However, effectively managing subcontractors requires meticulous pre-qualification and selection, a clear definition of scopes of work, detailed contracts with performance monitoring, and clear lines of communications.

Pre-qualification and Selection: Before deciding on a subcontractor to use, it is imperative to thoroughly evaluate potential subcontractors based on their capabilities, experience, and track record. Some key aspects to look for when going through the pre-qualification process are a capability assessment, safety compliance, and references to their performance in previous construction projects. A capability assessment is used to evaluate the subcontractor’s overall capability to handle certain tasks related to the project, while their safety compliance helps to ensure subcontractors are adhering to industry best practices and prioritizing safety of their workers. Their reputation in the industry will reflect negatively or positively on your firm, so it is essential to thoroughly vet subcontractors.

Clear Scope of Work: Developing a well-defined scope of work minimizes ambiguity, reduces the potential for misunderstandings, and promotes an effective work environment among subcontractors and the project manager. Items to include in your scope of work includes identifying the project’s objectives, milestones, deliverables, outcomes, and completion deadline. This ensures that all parties understand what is expected and work towards the common goal.

Detailed Contracts with Performance Monitoring: Having a detailed contract is vital to ensure everyone is on the same page and working well together. These contracts should clearly identify the chain of command for communications, payment terms, scope of work, project deadlines, and the process for monitoring performance.  When there are clear agreements in place, it helps prevent misunderstandings and conflicts between all parties.

Communication Channels:  Effective communication keeps everyone informed and working together to achieve success.  Subcontractors should know their point of contact when questions arise relating to the day’s tasks, safety, and the schedule. While the preferred method may vary, some common methods of communication are emails, phone calls, text messages, and project management software. Generally, emails are for record-keeping and relaying detailed information, phone calls are for more urgent matters, text messages are for sending brief information quickly, and project management software is used to streamline communication in larger projects. The goal, no matter which method of communication is used, is to ensure that subcontractors, team members, and stakeholders know what system is in place for communication with one another and are able to use it with ease.

DiPierro and Brown Construction, Inc. is a full-service construction management and general contracting firm based out of Woburn, Massachusetts, and services the greater Boston area.  We are committed to creating successful partnerships with customers based on integrity, performance, and quality.  Our goal is to continue to meet the changing needs of our clients and exceed their expectations with our quality of work and services delivered by our experienced team.

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