In a competitive industry of construction, the Turnaround Time (TAT) makes or breaks a contractor. Take too long to build, and the contractor risks lower profit margins if not losing money on the project altogether. On the other hand, finish the project too fast, and quality may suffer considerably— or does it?
Many turnaround time delays are due to inefficiency in the construction processes—activities not starting as scheduled and taking too long to complete, return trips from job site to headquarters, major punch list items, inspection and testing fails, wrong material delivery, and the list goes on and on. While weather and other unexpected elements will always blindside the construction operations and impact the overall timeline, a lot of the delays are within the contractor’s ability to control.
Learn how you can reduce the turnaround time of your project for better planning, higher margins, more satisfied clients, and overall improvement of your construction project management.
What is Turnaround Time in Construction?
Generally, Turnaround Time is the amount of time needed to complete a task or process. Faster project completion is critical for business, especially in the construction world, where an additional day of operations can depict thousands of dollars lost. For real estate companies, a faster turnaround time translates to tenant units that can be rented or sold faster.
Moreover, timely feedback is essential for ensuring that the project progresses according to the initial timeline and is within the intended budget until completion. One approach is to optimize the design and construction phases to expedite the schedule while still within a reasonable cost.
Theoretically speaking, the swifter turnaround time for construction projects would mean hiring more staff or even paying overtime. However, this kind of approach would significantly increase the needed finances to do the job, making the project much more expensive.
5 Ways to Shorten Construction Turnaround Time
1. Set a Deadline for Client’s Change Orders
A satisfying project building experience is a top goal for most contractors, but allowing the client to make changes during the construction operations is not doing the client any favors.
Once the planning phase ended and the construction on the project has started, the train has left the station for any changes to be raised. Spontaneous adjustment during the construction phase creates errors and a myriad of confusion. Purchase Orders are wrong, plans revisions are missed, incorrect material code is ordered and delivered, processing times are extended.
Early in the project planning, set up a “Change Cut-Off Date” with the client and set it in stone. The client may be a little unhappy that he can’t change the plumbing fixtures at the last minute. Still, the client will be downright disappointed when the new fixtures are delivered, but the construction project is delayed seven weeks to correct the error.
2. Define and Eliminate the Bottlenecks in Construction Jobsite
Recognizing the bottlenecks in a construction project may seem like an easy job to do if identifying those are apparent. However, project engineers and managers usually look at each issue as unprecedented and unique from each other. Using the Quality Assurance and Control (QA/QC) System to identify trends across job sites is one strategy you can employ in your business.
Viewing delays across various job sites can present recurring problems within a specific phase, activity, or subcontractor. Once these bottlenecks are successfully identified—whether they’re obscure or obvious—the general contractor can take measures to eliminate them and precautionary measures to prevent them.
Eliminating bottlenecks requires the general contractor to delve into the root of the problem. On the surface, it’s easier to point fingers to let another person take the blame. However, managing construction is all about asking the difficult questions: Why are the phase taking longer than scheduled? Are the resources ready when the team begins? Are all departments performing “workarounds” to get the job done on time? Is there a consistent punch list that requires callbacks? Knowing why an activity is has been delayed is critical to eliminating the problem.
It also helps to compare an off-schedule project with another job site that’s within schedule. That will most likely show the best practices and opportunities for standardization of the company processes.
3. Eradicate “Wastes” in Your Construction Processes
Waste in construction refers to the debris left on-site after the project handover phase- it is also the buffers in the schedule that are unnecessary.
If, for instance, the structural crew needs six weeks to complete the retaining wall design, don’t give them seven. Most subcontractors will always opt to the maximum number of days to complete a job, whether if it’s realistic or not/
This kind of approach leads the workers to start the job on day one but not return until the last few days to finish. This unnecessary lag time either extends the number of days to complete work or requires the next task to begin even before the primary task is finished. This, in turn, would result in more delays and errors.
Extra days to use for expected callbacks and punch list must be removed from the project schedule too. Use approved QA/QC checklists on the job site to prevent punch lists early and reduce the number of days it takes to rectify or repair the items. Regular inspections performed by project managers and superintendents should stop callbacks. This will keep the construction schedule moving and ensure quality output at the same time.
Lastly, waste in the job site slows down construction operations as much as anything else. A messy job site is neither safe for workers nor provides ideal or productive working conditions. Require specific teams to clean up and sweep the job site at the end of every day. A subcontractor scheduling software can considerably help automate this process for your team.
Excess lumber, drywall, block, and other trash, in general, make an image about priorities and respect of the contractors. (And that doesn’t even include the cost of money wasted in thrown-away building materials.)
If your subcontractors don’t respect the job site upkeeping, they won’t appreciate the set schedule. Always keep the job site tidy and the schedule moving.
4. Be Open to Innovative Ideas and Suggestions
The Project Building Team is just that—a team. And the employees in the field (Engineers, Superintendents, Project Managers, Subcontractors, and even Clients) see issues and opportunities that an individual often misses.
So, ask your team for constant input of ideas to reduce turnaround time. They inherently want a shorter time to get to their project closing bonus quicker. Ask the subcontractor how you can help to make their job move fast and more efficiently.
They naturally want to get in and out of the project and on to the next job as quickly as possible. So often, they have good suggestions and are just waiting for the chance to speak up.
5. Employ Construction Scheduling Software
A construction scheduling software is more than just for scheduling and sequencing activities; it’s also a powerful collaboration and communication tool that will improve the turnaround time of projects.
In addition to monitoring phase starting and completion dates, its features can distribute best practices across different construction job sites and stakeholders. Through task scheduling, reminders and checklists, the general contractor can ensure that work is being performed correctly, on time, and according to standards across every job site.
Clarity about project expectations is brought to a whole new level when updated plans, pictures, and details are can be viewed right from your mobile phone.
The construction scheduling program is also an effective platform for the field to management and back-office communication. Through a streamlined reporting system, those plan errors can be immediately sent to the architect for revision, task delegation can easily be adjusted, and hard decisions can be solved through real-time communication with project stakeholders.
Learn more about the front-running construction management software for builders and contractors – Pro Crew Schedule.