By Patrick Hogan on Mar 1, 2020 7:28:14 PM
The primary goal of all project managers is to ensure the delivery of projects on time and within budget. For a project to be a success, project managers need to find the most efficient methods of using the budget and resources while ensuring the deadlines are met. That said, achieving this goal is no easy feat.
Many industries have already incorporated new technological innovations into their operations to improve efficiency. However, the construction industry is significantly lagging behind. According to Mckinsey’s report on global-labor productivity, the construction industry experienced only a 1% growth per year on average over the past two decades compared to a 3.6% growth in manufacturing and a 2.8% growth in the total world economy.
If construction companies fail to adapt to the changing business environment, the construction industry will continue to trail behind other industries. For this reason, industry leaders need to work on new techniques to address productivity issues and improve operational efficiency. Here are some of the ways you can improve efficiency across all your projects.
1. Streamline your workflow and decision-making
Non-productive activities are present in all industries but are pretty rampant in the construction sector. These activities may not take up a lot of time on their own but they can build up and incur additional expenses and further delays. These non-productive activities include looking for missing project data, resolving conflicts among stakeholders and project participants, and fixing avoidable work mistakes.
The first step in addressing these issues is to measure the current level of productivity. This baseline data will allow you to pinpoint flaws in the workflow. Consider creating an incentive system that will encourage crew members to improve their productivity.
Next, review the decision-making flow, starting with when a site issue starts. Identify which parts take more time to accomplish and find opportunities that can create a more efficient decision flow.
Finally, plenty of operational and decision-making issues come from flawed communication. Because construction sites are huge and most key decision-makers are rarely on-site, decisions can take a long time to process. Reduce this time lag by establishing an efficient communication system.
2. Leverage new technology to improve work management
While new technology can transform the industry, not a lot of companies are willing to invest in these innovations. For the industry to move forward, this has to change.
Many aspects of the construction industry can be transformed by new technology, from managing construction payments using dedicated software to surveying sites using drone technology. One essential piece of new technology that you should consider is a labor management system that can help you break down work to manageable tasks, resulting in an efficient workflow. The right software can help you reduce project delays and budget overruns while ensuring that the right tasks are assigned to the right people.
3. Provide continuous training to site employees
The people part of a construction project is another aspect of the construction project that you need to focus on if you want an efficient operation. Business owners need to ensure that site employees are trained for the job. Field workers need to be trained on how to operate equipment to ensure smooth operations. Site supervisors and team leaders need to know the right management skills to handle team members. As the construction environment changes, businesses need to adapt by providing continuous training to employees.
4. Listen to field employees’ feedback and act on them
One thing that many construction business owners are missing out on is the benefit of getting feedback from field employees. These employees have valuable insight into improving work efficiency, oftentimes more than upper management working off-site. Incorporate employee feedback by including them in the planning phase. This gives them the opportunity to look at the plan and point out flaws that you can address right away. In addition, schedule regular meetings with employees to talk about issues in the workplace and get suggestions to improve workflow.
5. Maintain a positive relationship with suppliers
The relatively low digitization of the supply side of construction operations provides a big opportunity to improve work efficiency. Long lead time between requesting a batch of materials and receiving the order on the site has a huge effect on a project’s timeline. Delays on crucial materials will also inevitably cause work that relies on them to lag behind.
One way to address this is to maintain a positive relationship with suppliers. This makes it easier to negotiate better deals and learn more about their order fulfillment process to make better scheduling decisions.
As construction projects increase in scope and scale, addressing work efficiency is more important now than ever. Hopefully, you will be able to incorporate our tips into your business practices and make your operations more efficient.
About the Author:
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.