Top Six Common Obstacles in Management of Multiple Construction Site Teams


Tamara L. Boeck, Stoel Rives LLP, co-authored the article with Dwain Bateson, Bateson Consulting Services.

Both owners and builders are working to capitalize on the booming market after the Great Recession. They are tackling multiple projects at the same time, which is stretching their bandwidths. Add a market that is faster paced and has significant qualified subcontractor shortages, increasing costs, and labor shortages, and the result is a marked increase in risk to all involved. This article provides builders with a brief overview of the top six common obstacles in managing multiple construction site teams, to help minimize and mitigate these risks.

  • Clear Communication: Good communication is a challenge in most large organizations. It is, however, one major obstacle to the successful management of multiple construction sites. Naturally, it is critical that the builder be able to depend on its on-site construction team. What the team tells the builder impacts everything from proper contract performance and compliance, to schedule, to correct project wrap-up. The detail of what is communicated by each site’s project team to the builder leadership will dramatically impact project profitability, and often determines it. Managing multiple site project teams demands clear communication between leadership and each team.
  • Proper Protocol: Having a multi-site protocol, and consistency with that protocol, is another common obstacle. When site teams are consistent and building projects with the same method and dependability, the leadership can focus on the important “real issues” as the small ones are avoided or are less time-consuming. Builder protocol is then bolstered by effective QA/QC, resulting in fewer corrections and call-backs, resulting in streamlined performance and efficient scheduling. If a consistently applied protocol is not established, builders will spend a significant amount of time trying to unravel the daily – and most often avoidable – concerns at multiple project sites.
  • Verification: Failure to “trust but verify” that the work in the field is properly performed and that the field conditions are as required leads to reactionary decision making and “fire drills,” resulting in avoidable time and expense due to increased corrections, RFIs, and warranty call-backs. This challenge of field condition verification is increased for many multi-site builders due to the increased level of coordination required for the work and pace of multiple projects. Too often, pure necessity requires that leadership simply “take the word” of construction teams that may not have the builder’s “big picture” vantage point. Even the best employees may shift their focus to their site and their deadline, and not fully appreciate the oversight required among multiple projects. Builders can avoid many conflicts by consistently verifying work across project sites.
  • Multi-Site Schedule Management: Time is money, and juggling staffing and scheduling at multiple project sites can tax even the best builder. Most companies manage their schedules by either allowing on-site PMs or Leads to create and manage the schedule, or having a central management of the schedules in one location. Both can work if the Communication is accurate and Verification is ongoing. In practice, builders are better served using common scheduling software that can be centrally monitored and coordinated across multiple projects, utilizing their assets with the “big picture” in mind.
  • Documentation: Project documentation is critical to a) know what was built, b) maintain what was built, and c) respond to and defend against potential claims. In many litigious jurisdictions, unless the owner intends to maintain ownership of a project (and manage the asset appropriately), at some point in the project’s life the work may need to be defended. Whether in sale due diligence or litigation, proper documentation of quality is the second line of defense (after building it right), but with multiple sites in progress at one time, keeping accurate records for each project is imperative. Proper documentation for each site may be the difference between a successful defense, making a strategic nominal monetary concession, or suffering a loss and liability exposure.
  • Transition Management and Warranty Services: Gone are the days of the “tail light” warranty, when responsibility for defects ended when the owner saw the contractor’s tail lights driving away from the project. Many states’ statutes of repose or limitation extend time to litigate against a builder from 4 to 10 years on all non-observable defects. Given this risk, when a builder is managing multiple projects it is crucial that a project is properly transitioned from the builder before it moves the project team to different project sites. If each project is transitioned correctly, the warranty operations will be managed smoothly and project documentation will be efficiently closed at each project site, minimizing end-of-project discrepancies or disputes.

Dwain Bateson is President of Bateson Consulting Services and may be reached at 775.745.9917 or

Originally published as “OP-ED: Challenges of managing multiple project teams” on October 18, 2018, by the Daily Journal of Commerce.

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