Rising over budget and falling behind schedule are among the average contractor’s biggest worries. But how do you improve productivity on a construction site without sacrificing quality?
The key is not rushing to complete work faster but making small optimizations to your process wherever possible. If speed is your only goal, safety and quality will suffer.
By making small adjustments to how you manage tasks, people and materials, you can boost efficiency on your construction site without cutting corners.
In the journey to becoming more efficient on the job site, it’s important to take detailed planning seriously — right from the start. Forecast your needs for every aspect of a project and plan accordingly, especially when it comes to people, schedules, processes, material and other logistics.
If you’re more thorough at the front end of a project, your efforts will go more smoothly. Start by asking, “How is this current project different from previous jobs? What milestones do I want to reach and when?”
Be sure to set realistic goals that your crew understands. Remember, multiple smaller goals make a big project seem easier to accomplish.
Time is money and decision-making is key. Become more organized by setting alerts in your electronic devices. Additionally, give others permission to remind you when a portion of your project is falling behind.
Communicating with your crew is crucial to improving productivity. Make sure you’re available to them as much as possible and make your project expectations clear right away.
Meet with your crew daily to talk about objectives and receive their feedback on how things are going. Always keep your people informed on project needs and expectations. No one can get a job done well if they don’t know what’s going on.
On the note of setting expectations, be sure to establish performance measurements for your crew. This can be a great motivational tool, especially when rewards are involved.
To keep your workers on task, regularly remind them of what they’re working toward. Communicating this to your employees gives them a sense of purpose.
Seek expertise from material management professionals
In today’s business environment, successful contractors know that maximizing productivity and efficiency — all within tight deadlines — is key to a profitable job site. That’s why having access to quality material management professionals is important.
According to the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), up to 40 percent of a project’s labor cost can be consumed by material handling — and that’s just labor costs.
In an era where skilled labor shortages are business as usual, reducing labor costs with material management services is a key tactic for boosting productivity.
You have endless possibilities with technology. For one, you can cut costs and save time by designing prefabricated buildings, which can be installed more quickly than a traditional structure. They can also decrease costs and increase quality.
Additionally, adopting software for productivity, project management and building information modeling (BIM) helps avoid downtime and rework.
Using an application like PlanGrid, for example, lets you collect, manage and collaborate in real-time on drawings, submittals, markups, photos, issues and more, boosting your productivity in the process. Other software options can help you with bid management, billing and invoicing, documentation, incident reporting, time sheets, scheduling and more.
Provide safety training
Skipping safety training and letting practices slide may seem faster, but even a minor accident can cause major delays. If you have one less worker on the job site, your productivity will suffer.
Offer plenty of safety training to make your employees more aware of hazards. Toolbox talks are a simple way to remind workers about safety topics regularly. They also instill the values of a safety culture and show that safety is a priority for your company.
Hire and train good managers
Additionally, employing effective managers increases efficiency. If your managers are good leaders, your crew will follow them and accomplish your goals.
One thing that managers can do to boost productivity is enforce the start and end times of breaks.
This may not be popular at first, so you should explain why timeliness matters. It’s not about micromanaging. It’s about seeing the importance every individual has in the big picture of a project.
Starting five minutes late doesn’t seem like a big deal if you’re just one person. But if you have 12 workers who start five minutes late, you’ve lost one manhour already. Multiply that hour out across weeks and years, and you’re looking at a ton of lost time and money.
Six keys to construction site efficiency
Here are the key takeaways for how you can improve productivity on your construction site:
- Plan ahead
- Communicate well
- Partner with material management professionals
- Utilize technology
- Provide safety training
- Hire quality managers and train them well
Boosting productivity and efficiency on a construction site is possible. If you make small strides to work smarter and not harder, you’ll be on track to reach goals and complete projects more effectively.
This article was originally published on November 15, 2018. It was updated and republished on April 20, 2021.