Many construction managers who work on projects involving a lot of task repetitions agree that they have spent half of their time on admin-heavy tasks linked to planning. While their main focus is to manage construction projects according to the agreed timeline and budget, this is not possible without going through countless phone calls, email notifications, and messages from various stakeholders. Knowing this, it doesn’t take much before they get too much on their plate and are buried with a mountain of works that don’t add value to the project.
Construction Activity— How to Classify What Adds or Subtracts Value to the Project?
This brings us to the question— what does adding value to a construction project mean in the first place? According to the Last Planner System (LPS) Method, an activity can be considered to add value to a project if it fulfills the following criteria:
- the client agrees to pay for this activity,
- the activity has a direct and positive impact on the function, fit, or form of the final product, and
- the activity is done correctly from the first execution.
The common dilemma is that in many cases, project managers choose to overlook these criteria and go through the activity despite knowing that they are a waste of precious resources. When you manage construction projects, you can quickly filter the activities that don’t add value to the project if they satisfy any of the following points:
- unnecessary transportation of materials and vehicles from one place to another,
- downtime between the execution of tasks on the jobsite,
- inventory items deteriorating or getting damaged because they are stored poorly or ordered too early,
- carrying out more activities and tasks before they are required,
- doing more work than what is initially needed for the project owner, and
- rework of punch list items because of bad quality or defects.
Generally, a wide array of construction activities may seem vital as they are conventionally done but don’t add value to the project. These activities are harmful and can also trigger timeline delays, feed a culture of blame, or even involve commercial claims.
To help you avoid activities that can lead to avoidable problems in your project, here are four questions that you should ask yourself and your team before you commence your construction operations:
4 Questions Before Giving the Go Signal in a Construction Project
1. Have I Planned Enough and Scheduled Accurately?
The lack of priority in the preparation phase of a construction project is one of the common habits of managers— but there is plenty of room for improvement. The only exception to these are external events, such as force majeure events, that can be addressed in the contracts early on.
One of the essential rules when you manage construction projects, is that preparation should not start and conclude there. Most of the problems that can arise on the jobsite can be solved through better preparation and anticipation around delivery, drawing, inventory, and better task project management.
Typically, we see that issues emerge if work on the jobsite has not been thought out in detail with concerned stakeholders or when preparation work has been decided too late, leading to last-minute work and inevitable mistakes.
For example, it could be that you are delayed on your project because pre-fabricated components arrive on-site too late. In this case, you need to gather all the involved parties to find the root cause and formulate a sustainable solution to the problem to ensure it won’t happen again. This is also how you can guarantee a proactive approach in pre-planning, initial evaluation, and constraint resolution so that unforeseeable events don’t escalate to disasters.
2. Have I Clearly Described What a “Completed Job” Looks Like?
Waiting for other crew members or subcontractors to complete their tasks is usually one of the main reasons behind downtime and delays in a project. Which brings us to the question of how can one avoid that? It is possible by defining together as a team what the term “done work” implies so that the next activity can commence.
Having a standardized and clear set of rules and parameters regarding when a task can be considered completed is the key to aligning the collective expectations of all team crew and avoiding costly mistakes such as rework in the future. When should a turnover be considered successful? Or when exactly is the proper schedule for the next material bulk order to arrive on-site, and where should it be stored?
These questions, in theory, might sound simplistic, but on a construction jobsite, these impediments can be the spark for delays, fuel for downtime, or even commercial claims that can put your margins at serious risk. This is why it is crucial for project managers and everyone involved to have a central, single, and live perspective of short- and long-term planning. Suppose employees just go about their work on-site, holding all the information upon their heads or in disconnected forms (PDFs, print-outs, Excel spreadsheets). In that case, they will undoubtedly get dragged into constant confusion with no confidence whether what they are doing helps the project overall or is just a waste.
Defining when a task should be described as “completed” and communicating the status to the right stakeholders in a collaborative environment through project management software for construction can make a significant difference. Alternatively, the reluctance or inability to standardize, digitize and connect your stakeholders and schedules will eventually create silos on the project’s progress. In other words, more disputes, more delays, and less peace of mind for your team daily.
3. Have I Checked the Zoning Restriction of the Project Site?
One of the most common but crucial mistakes done by project managers, especially in projects that involves a lot of repetition, is that they fail to include zoning during their planning phase. Imagine managing a multi-family residential compound where multiple separate households with identical units need to be built or a large hospital project where different areas should be separated adequately.
Regardless of what type of project, you have to fulfill a set of specifications and a series of tasks that you have to finish for each area. However, you can’t work on everything at once. Your hired subcontractors or trade contractors need to accessibility for each zone (i.e., unit or room) at the proper schedule and then move on to the next zone at the right schedule so that the next team can also do their job.
To make this possible without starting chaos, you need to combine your short-term planning with zoning requirements and subsequently share the latest updates with your subcontractors in a live, real-time, and shareable place in the cloud. Pro Crew Schedule, a frontrunner subcontractor management software, can make this possible for you and your team.
Otherwise, you will sooner or later risk your collaborators losing sight of where the project stands. Simply put, they will not know when it is their turn to show up on the jobsite to get their work done. This is easily how you can quickly encounter delays and inefficient workflows in your projects.
4. Are My Current Task Management Tools Tailored for Construction?
That’s a critical question you want to answer if you are dead-set on boosting productivity in your projects and ensuring the successful fulfillment of your lookaheads.
Construction managers tend to believe that the online tools for project management they are using fit the purpose and are designed to collaborate with various teams on their construction projects. In many cases, the truth is quite the opposite.
Especially when it comes to software like MS Project, Excel, and Email that are not really built for construction teams, these tools might be great for other industries, but they can’t offer you the site visibility you are after. More specifically:
- They don’t provide a shareable, real-time site update of the project.
- Information is scattered on many social platforms hindering a consolidated and streamlined reporting process.
- The data shared online platforms lacks the connection to the master schedule of activities. This makes it hard for everyone to see where things are in the big picture, what tasks are ongoing, what’s coming next, and who has liability for what.
- They don’t offer swift collaboration between external and internal stakeholders, which makes your effort to collaborate on the field way more challenging than it should be.
It quickly becomes evident that using the wrong tools can truly impact your activity week lookaheads. Your teams have no real-time perspective into the current state of the project. There is no accountability for activities that are progressing too slowly, and decision-making usually suffers.
Ultimately, asking the right questions is the onset of your effort to regain control over your progress and establish value-adding and workflows for your projects. If you are ready to leap to the next step and place scheduling at the center of your business, we invite you to try our 30-day free trial today.
Pro Crew Schedule is here to help you answer the four questions with confidence so you can move on with your projects with more control and peace of mind.