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8 Easy Ways to Improve Construction Efficiency

February 1, 2018

Construction projects that go over budget and off schedule are a nightmare.

 

Everyone in the industry has heard of the problems experienced with the Medupi power station project. Eskom launched the effort in 2007 to ensure sufficient power supply for South Africa. The project involved building and commissioning of six 794 MW coal fired power generation units. The first unit was scheduled for completion in 2012 and the total cost to completion was estimated at R 88.5 billion (2008 estimate). The first unit was completed in 2016 and the total cost to completion was estimated at R 135 billion (2016 estimate). This is a R 46,5 billion overrun in costs.

 

See? Your 10% overrun isn’t that bad in comparison.

 

That said, cost overruns and schedule delays affect your bottom line, and leave you mulling the eternal question: How do I run my construction project more efficiently?

 

We’ve compiled a few easy ways you can start whipping your project into shape right now. Let’s go.

 

1. Plan, plan, plan

 

When it comes to keeping your project on time, nothing is more important than having a detailed project plan to work from. A great project plan that can easily be updated as the project moves forward and offers a bird’s eye view of the project. This enables managers and team members to quickly diagnose potential challenges and solve problems before they become costly delays.

Many contractors start projects of various sizes without a clear timeline, finalized drawings, or prior communication with critical subcontractors. That’s a big mistake. Your project plan should be exhaustive—it should include every detail required to complete the project, while accounting for variables in the execution process that could create delays.

A successful plan also contains contingencies for unforeseen circumstances, creating clear guidelines for how you should respond to delays.

 

 

 

2. Minimize construction delays and blockers

 

There are two types of problems that prevent projects from finishing on time: delays and blockers. 

 

Delay happens when things don’t go according to plan, and since construction is often sequential, that’s often unavoidable.

For example, you were planning to pour concrete in a specific two-day window, but it ends up raining. Now the project must be pushed back two days and contractors must reschedule.

 

Blockers are tasks whose completion is necessary before other tasks can be undertaken.

For example, you may have scheduled a mason to lay the bricks for your building, but you can’t lay bricks unless the foundation has been poured.

 

Careful planning is a must if you want to avoid delays, and you must identify blockers well in advance of the project to keep them from being an obstacle.

 

But if this is not possible we suggest the following:

1. Gather the right resources. In order to properly manage a delay, you must bring all the necessary resources together in order to analyze the problem and make appropriate decisions.

2. Consider the consequences. The impact of delays and missed deadlines can range from severe to manageable. But to fully evaluate opportunities we need to create a full picture of the delay within the project timeline.

3. Identify and evaluate the alternatives. Once consequences are fully analyzed, alternative remedies must be examined and vetted. Depending upon needs and circumstances, multiple solutions are possible, including extending project deadlines, modifying deliverables, additional resources, or changing project scope.

4. Communicate, negotiate and decide. Once alternative remedies have been identified it must be communicated. In order to ensure informed consent, a complete and revised project plan must be developed, incorporating the delayed timeline and all related contingencies. Problems should not be sugar coated.

 

3. Find good construction management software

 

It’s the 21st century, which means there are so many tools out there to help you do your job that you didn’t have access to not so long ago.

Good construction management software can keep you organized and free from the clutter of paperwork on your desk, allowing you to focus on actually building stuff.

 

Freedcamp is an effective way to ensure project success

 4. Listen to your Contractor

 

Your contractors are your eyes and ears in the field. If something is going wrong or could be going better, they’ll know before you do.

Experienced workers can help you spot holes in your plan before you even get started. Get them involved early in the planning process to spot potential problems, and then stay in contact on a daily basis throughout the project.

 

 

5. Improve your communication

 

Little problems can turn into big delays because of poor communication between parties.

When an unforeseen challenge materializes on the job site, it is crucial that contractors have a direct line to the project management team and that stakeholders are easily reachable for consultation. You must quickly diagnose, assess, and communicate the problem to all key stakeholders, and to get everyone together to find a resolution as quickly as possible.

 

6. Establish performance measurements, and hold your Contractor accountable

 

Performance measurements are a great motivational tool for your contractors, especially when rewards or penalties are attached to them.

Set clear performance measurements and consider attaching a financial incentive.

 

There are a variety of performance metrics you can set, including:

  • Number of incidents

  • Actual working days versus available working days

  • Change orders 

  • Cost for construction

  • Cost predictability

  • Customer satisfaction level

  • Day to day project completion ratio - Actual versus baseline

  • Number of defects

  • Productivity

  • Time for construction

  • Time predictability

  • Time to rectify defects

 

7. Implement prefabrication and modular construction into your projects

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modular construction has become a big trend in construction. The technology has come a long way, to the point that you’ve probably passed by many of them and haven’t noticed any difference from traditionally built buildings.

You can cut down on costs by using modular, prefabricated buildings or elements, which additionally can be installed much more quickly than a traditional structure. You lose some customization ability, of course, but for some straightforward building types, that’s not really a concern.

 

8. Get Expert help

 

Any construction project is s complex symphony, requiring highly specialized and experience conductors to bring plans to fruition in a timely and cost effective manner. Why not hire an expert conductor to ensure that you can can sit back and enjoy the symphony.

 

 

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