Agile Construction® Blog

Is Your Percent Complete Accurate?

Feb 3, 2021 10:01:55 AM / by Nicholas Aloisio

Percentage of Completion Not Accurate? It doesn’t come from a software, it comes from a process.

The construction industry has changed significantly just in the past few years. A decade ago, most MEP contractors could survive by “getting good guys” and having a “great” project manager manage the job effectively. As competition for that talent has become fiercer and Industrialization has taken hold, the old ways are quickly becoming outdated. In order to really be a great project manager now, you must be good at estimating your cost to complete and projecting that cost at a very early stage. While there are some truly great project managers who have that innate ability, the vast majority struggle to accurately project that piece of the puzzle. So, what is the solution?

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It is at this point that we typically begin to search for that “silver bullet” tech or software to solve the issue at hand. There’s just one problem, it doesn’t exist. At least not in a simple software. In order to truly understand percentage of completion and accurately project cost to complete, careful planning and visibly breaking down your work is imperative. So, it’s not SaaS Software as a Solution that you should be looking for, rather it’s SaaP®, or Software As A Process.

Accurately projecting percentage of completion can only happen when the project and field team can collaboratively visualize the work from a task level and then determine whether those tasks are “complete” or not. Think of it like a puzzle. If you have a simple 4 piece puzzle in front of you, you can only be 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% complete at any given time. While this is accurate when building a puzzle with your children, it doesn’t translate to construction even though the vast majority of contractors still visualize percentage of completion in that manner. Now, let’s visualize a 100 piece puzzle. Each piece represents 1% of completion, it’s much easier to report that we are 12% complete and takes the guess work out of it. It’s also much easier to calculate “cost” to complete as we know with full confidence that we have 88% of the puzzle left. Bottom line,   the more we break down and visualize the work into smaller tasks, the more accurate the percentage of completion becomes and the easier it becomes to calculate cost to complete.

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The key here is in the process of breaking down the work into visible pieces, called Work Breakdown Structure or WBS®. This process involves collaboration between the project team and the field team and working together to determine what tasks need to be included on a particular project and what effort is needed in order to complete those tasks. Only then can we truly and accurately begin to track progress and labor productivity on a job site.  

Moving forward, it may be time to stop looking for the “silver bullet” software and start to look internally at your process of project management. The time is now to standardize internal processes in order to replicate the success of your “best” guys and the way to do that is to take a deeper dive into your company’s internal processes. Partner with companies that will aid in that transition and your company will benefit immediately. 

For more information on the above content or for help and guidance with process design or our Software As A Process Solutions, please contact Nick Aloisio 248 756 8010.


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Topics: construction productivity, production tracking, agile construction, job tracking, construction tracking

Nicholas Aloisio

Written by Nicholas Aloisio