Ask any one in the construction industry if they want their field team to be more productive and 100% of the time, the answer you will receive will be a resounding YES! The unfortunate fact is that this is typically easier said than done. Productivity is tricky, mostly because it is pretty tough to track. Without proper tracking, improvement can't really take place. That being said, this blog will outline 4 basic tips to begin tracking and improving productivity.
1: Tracking Is Key
There are many methods to job tracking, but only a few are going to make any quantifiable impact. You can be certain, though, that traditional job tracking methods are insufficient and will not lead to positive results. Put simply, if you are using "old school" tracking methods, you need to be looking for a new solution. When I refer to "old school", I am referring to relying specifically on accounting data to give you an indication of the overall "health" of your job. Too many times when meeting with a client and discussing percentage of completion the conversation leads to a cost based tracking strategy. I budgeted 1000 hours and have used 500 hours, therefore I am 50% complete with the project. This is completely inaccurate and will only serve to harm your efforts. You must begin tracking based on observed percentage of completion. JPAC® is a tool that will do that for you and is an application of an ASTM Standard.
2: Break Down Your Estimate Into "Visible" Parts
Effective tracking of a job can wildly vary based on each individual contractor and their individual processes and knowledge. In order to accurately report on observed percentage of completion, however, you must first break down your estimate into visible parts. What this means is implementing specific labor codes that correspond with individual tasks. These may be referred to as "cost codes" or "labor codes" but the premise is the same. The individual tasks must be visible in order to effectively track their level of completion.
3: Schedule Weekly Reviews
Things tend to improve when they are being observed. That is why it is incredibly important to at least do a physical job review once per week to discuss the overall health of the job. During this review, obstacles can be discussed, delays can be flushed out and other hindrances can have an action plan implemented to reduce the impact on the productivity of your team. This also helps build team morale by giving your teammates a chance to share their experiences and voice concerns that could have a major impact if they were to go unnoticed.
4: Schedule And Score Effectiveness Daily
Talk to most foremen about scheduling and you'll likely get a roll of the eyes. While everyone knows that staying on schedule is vital to success, the reality is that, in construction, over 90% of scheduled work gets rescheduled and pushed due to any number of issues. Without proper tracking and categorization of these "reasons", improvement is impossible. Utilizing Short Interval Scheduling or SIS® effectively solves that problem. Following a very simple process of
1. Scheduling Tasks for Yourself and team and
2. Scoring Percentage of Completion at the end of your shift,
3. Noting a specific "reason code" for tasks that were not completed. ie Material Delays, Trade Interference, etc.
By following the above process, critical data is gathered and able to be reviewed at predetermined intervals in order to understand what obstacles are preventing work from being completed efficiently.
Improvement of your field team's productivity is possible as long as you are committed to fostering process changes throughout your construction company. Commitment and education is key to that change really sticking.