Productivity is probably one of the most important aspects to watch out for in your construction projects, next to quality and safety. Your team’s productivity will dictate whether you’re going to meet your deadline and stay on budget. So as you go on with your project, it will be beneficial for you, as the team lead, to measure productivity.
It is the responsibility of the general contractor and subcontractor to efficiently manage construction resources. This mere task can lead to higher productivity of the whole team and achieve time and cost savings. Over the years of observing what leads a construction project to its success, it has been found out that low productivity is the major cause of cost overrun and over time. And the main reason why there is low productivity is the failure of the contractor and subcon to properly manage their teams.
A part of project management is measuring the team’s productivity to make sure that the project is progressing. Without any measuring efforts, the contractor won’t be able to identify impending delays and overruns. They won’t be able to strategize on a new plan to make up with these delays and over cost. In the end, the project fails and the contractor’s left to be blamed.
But measuring productivity isn’t as simple as it sounds. With a lot of moving parts and materials to manage, it would be difficult to manually check on every aspect of the project and compare the day to day accomplishments just to know the current status of the project.
This is where the best construction management software comes in handy. But before we get there, let’s first look into the factors affecting productivity and what you can do to measure productivity more efficiently in this modern world.
Factors Affecting Construction Productivity
Much has been published about the factors affecting productivity in the construction industry. In those articles, several key factors are usually cited including skilled labor availability, technology utilization, offsite fabrication and modularization, and implementation of best construction practices.
But here, we’re going to focus on the 2 most important key factors – technology utilization and best construction practices.
The construction industry still has an ongoing problem on labor shortage and this causes projects to finish slower. But there were studies pointing out how technology in construction can fill in the gap.
First, technology can serve as an alternative to human labor. There are some tasks at the site that can be shifted to automation like carpentry works. 3D printers can even do the work of 50 people when it comes to laying out cement or putting up walls or the foundation. Technology has indeed revolutionized the construction site and is making up for the losses that might be incurred because of lack of manpower.
The second way technology makes up for the manpower shortage is its ability to attract millennials to apply to positions in construction. We already talked about how technology can convince the younger applicants that the construction site can also be a great workplace for them. Since they yearn to grow their careers around innovation, having technology in your site can make them want to be a part of the project.
When it comes to boosting productivity among your existing workers, technology also comes number one. Inventors have made construction equipment pro-workers so they can take advantage of it to help them increase their productivity rate. The improvements that happened in the equipment and automation at the site has led to better work control, time saving, amplification of human energy, ergonomics, and increased functionality.
One example is the concrete vibrator that automatically adjusts the vibration frequency to match the concrete’s slump. Overall, these as well as other technological advancements like construction project management software, 3D printers, remote-controlled equipment, and so much more have enabled labor productivity to improve by 30 % to 45 %.
2. Best Practices at the Site
Management practices greatly affects productivity rate in the construction project’s life cycle. This task includes planning, supply of information, resources control, and monitoring productivity. So, one management practice inappropriately applied can lead to a huge setback in productivity.
Researches done by the National Research Council identified the use of best management practices as the most important factor affecting productivity at the site. This means that the project manager as well as the contractor and subcontractor are the key people in ensuring productivity at the site. And techniques don’t only involve handling of materials and people and monitoring. Motivating crew members remains to be the number one driver for them to work harder and increase their performance rate. Motivating them with money and recognition will also ensure better quality output.
Other examples of best practices include alignment during front-end planning, front-end planning, team building, partnering, contract strategy, and project delivery, project risk assessment, zero accident techniques, change management, and planning for startup. Increasing use of these construction practices is associated with improved cost and safety performance. For owners, they will benefit from over a million dollar cost down and schedule reduction as much as 27 weeks. For contractors, they can benefit from higher profits to up to $7 dollars for a big industrial project.
There are many ways you can measure the productivity of your team. It can be a bit tricky but if you don’t measure productivity, you will never find out whether your project is gaining profit or not.
But the issue is, measuring productivity isn’t exactly black and white. So how do you measure productivity in such a big construction site? How should you focus on the efficient use of labor time and material or equipment cost? There are a variety of proposed theories for measuring productivity in a construction project. But generally, you can compare your ideal person/hour and cost/hour with the actual consumption.
When measuring productivity, you should ensure that your data collection is adequate so you can investigate your productivity rate accurately. The traditional way of measuring productivity in construction involved scribbling data into a notebook and computer for the productivity rate. This is greatly inaccurate as project leaders can’t really check on everything that’s done in a day at the construction site.
This is why this old fashioned way is no longer advisable to be used. Construction sites have now shifted to the use of a construction project management software to get a more definite bird’s eye view of everything that’s going on at the site. This includes monitoring budget, status of materials and equipment, and progress of tasks. Results are then presented through charts so leaders can easily interpret the data and measure more accurately.
So before attempting to measure productivity in your construction project, consider adopting more modern tools that will guarantee precision and accuracy. By leveraging construction project management software to collect data in the field even without roaming around to estimate progress and status, you can guarantee that the information you’ve recorded is more accurate and thorough. This will let you track productivity in real time.
Construction project management software are now available in mobile versions too so crew members can input information easier and faster. They can even receive instructions from you even as they walk around the jobsite.
The use of the best construction project management software available like Pro Crew means less room for error when it comes to data entry. And when it comes to organization, data is stored in one searchable location, making all members able to access them in mere seconds. The entire process of determining whether your project was productive or not can be more effective with the use of a software.
Why Should it Matter?
Understanding your productivity rate is more than just analyzing whether your project is profitable or not. You should be able to pinpoint too where time and resources are probably being wasted. This allows you to prepare for countermeasures and backup plans and even equips you with solid ideas for your upcoming project proposals. When you are able to present productivity reports with your bids, you can win more business.
Construction is regarded as a relatively low-productivity industry overall, and the stats do show that the majority of projects end up over-budget and behind schedule, so being able to show that your projects are in fact productive gets you a leg up on the competition.