What is a Construction Management Plan?

Detailed guide to what a construction management plan is

Plans plan plan
Construction management plans plan for the future. Tim Robberts // Getty Images

 There are three answers to this question, depending on who wants or uses the construction management plan (CMP). As a client, a contractor or a municipality, you may deal with:

  • An overall CMP, often used by clients to map out the whole of the project from initial business goals to evaluation after delivery
  • A CMP detailing building task schedules and costs, frequently prepared by the contractor, with detailed information on how the construction work itself is to be accomplished
  • A CMP addressing the impact of the construction project on the area around it, where the plan layout and content may follow a fixed format defined by the municipality concerned.

A CMP Starts Off with the End in Mind

The best plans are plans made with the finished construction in mind. That means being able to visualize the future building or structure and its environment, and the building process to get there. The plan can then be checked against the objective to address parts that are missing or that are redundant. Construction projects are often complex matters. Getting a plan in harmony with an objective, while still meeting customer requirements, is often an iterative process of comparison and adjustment until everything lines up.

The “Business Plan” CMP

The larger the project, the more this “business plan” CMP becomes necessary. It explains the what and the where of the project, why it is being done (the expected benefit), how it will be done, and who will do it, by when.

Sections in this kind of CMP might include:

  • Business benefit
  • Feasibility/planning permission
  • Project description
  • Client’s construction manager/team
  • Project design
  • Bid and contract process
  • Construction process
  • Occupation and defects liability period
  • Evaluation after occupation

Although this CMP is often produced by or on behalf of the client, a contractor may provide input in a number of ways.

Now that “Design-Build-Operate” agreements are becoming popular, a contractor may be involved from the beginning to define aspects of business benefit with the client. The contractor’s documents concerning schedule and costs may appear in the plan as addendums or references.

The “Project Management” CMP

For the construction phase and activities linked to it, a contractor can prepare a construction management plan to detail the project schedule and costs. This includes the timing of the individual construction tasks, breakdowns of the projected costs (and, therefore, the projected profitability), and information about technologies and materials to be used.

Many construction software tools exist to help automate and accelerate the production of this kind of CMP. Programs that run on workstations in the contractor’s offices or that are accessible online as a cloud computing service offer streamlining of:

  • Construction activity project management
  • CAD (computer aided design) for preparing 2D or 3D project drawings
  • Construction estimating for costing projects
  • Construction accounting

As projects grow in complexity, both clients and contractors may use these kinds of software and exchange data and files between one another.

BIM (building information modeling) software can federate all the different information effectively to make an even more extensive CMP.

The “Building Site” CMP

Depending on the size and nature of a building project, including demolition and excavation, the local municipality may require another construction management plan to be drawn up for approval. Items covered often include:

  • Public safety and site security
  • Operating hours
  • Controls to limit noise and vibration
  • Proper management of air, dust, storm water and sediment
  • Waste and materials re-use
  • Traffic management.

This kind of CMP also typically requires submittal in advance with a pre-defined period for approval. The software programs above (“Project Management” CMP) can help manage the process (project management, for example) and provide relevant information (CAD construction site plans, for instance).