Every construction project is a chain of numerous stakeholders and tasks that should be completed within a set timeframe and budget. Of course, the complexity of each project is vastly depended on its type, size, and available resources. Regardless of the above-mentioned criteria, though, construction projects seem to constantly struggle with low productivity on the field, fragmented communication, and painfully high rework rates.
As reported by McKinsey and Company, the productivity gap between the construction industry and the average economy is estimated at $1.6tn per year. That is a terrifying number considering the amount of effort and resources invested in global construction.
To make matters worse, productivity on the field has remained flat in the course of the last twenty years. And keep in mind that this is a $10tn industry which is expected to grow up to $15tn in the upcoming ten years.
How can construction companies be more efficient?
The good news is that the rapid progress of digital solutions is seen as the catalyst for a deep and meaningful change in the sector. There’s a vast amount of data on every construction field and the use of digital tools can help decisively with their proper collection and analysis.
On top of that, bridging the gap between the boardroom and the construction site is another area that requires extra attention. As the industry becomes more digital and fact-driven, there is a strong hope that this will no longer be an issue in the future.
Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go before we can claim that the field and the office are well-connected. And this, of course, reflects back on lower productivity and project misunderstandings.
How to Boost Productivity on the Field
It becomes clear that there are several steps that need to be taken before we can claim that construction is back on track in terms of on-site performance. In a nutshell, here are some of the ways in which the stakeholders of the sector could boost productivity on the field:
1. Standardize your processes
Before you kick off your project, it is of vital importance that you standardize all your systems and processes. That step will lay the foundation both for everything that is about to follow and will facilitate the implementation of any digital solutions later down the road.
Why is it important to standardize your processes? Simply because it will add much more clarity in every aspect of your project, and ideally in every aspect of your future projects, as well.
Having a strong set of guidelines in place will help all members of your team, both on the field and the office, to remain on the same page and be fully prepared for the different phases of the project from day one.
2. Go digital
Once all your project needs and processes are well-defined, it is time for your digital journey to begin. Finding and implementing the right software can be a long and demanding procedure but, if done right, it will be well-rewarded in the end.
Normally, the biggest obstacle you have to overcome at this stage is convincing your teams on the field and the boardroom to change their habits and the way they are used to work.
To achieve that, you need to make them understand how the new solutions will add value to their day-to-day working routine. As soon as they see the benefits of going digital then everything will start moving faster.
Digital adoption will enable the collection and proper analysis of more data from the field. These valuable pieces of information will play a substantial role in optimizing both the current and future construction projects.
3. Start small
Rolling out a digital solution in your construction project should always be done gradually. Start small by implementing the new tool in a specific project or even part of it. In that way, you avoid confusion and give your team the time they need to feel comfortable using the software.
These few people that will initially use the digital tool could, later on, turn to your biggest allies in the effort of implementing the software to the entire business.
Furthermore, this slow rollout will allow you to identify any mistakes or alterations that you want to do concerning the use of the tool early on in the process.
4. Invest in training
Either you call it training or onboarding, you need to pay extra attention to it. Before you make your final decision with regards to the digital solution you will adopt in your project, it is highly recommended that you explore the on-boarding and support services that the software provider has planned for your team.
This is a strong indication of how helpful they will be when there will be an emergency situation on the field.
Back to the training, though, it is of paramount importance that everyone both on the site and the office are well aware of what they are supposed to do in every situation both in terms of resolving an issue and analyzing later for not repeating it in the future.
Such an approach will in the long term offer a remarkable boost to your productivity on the field. Plus, it will make it much easier for new and inexperienced workers to become part of the team.
5. Collect and analyze the data
In the modern construction world, increasing the productivity on the field goes through digital adoption and the way we manage data. For that reason, the collection and analysis of data should always be seen as a priority.
Data is a key to a more efficient performance on site since it can reveal the pain points of your project and the areas that could be improved. This in-depth examination of the different project aspects will eventually lead to a management process where most mistakes are caught way before they emerge or communicated to the rest of the team on time.
This increased accountability in conjunction with the presence of a single source of truth can help your team lock disputes and misunderstandings out of the project.
6. Focus on mobile field reporting
Simplifying the way people on-site report progress can be a game-changer in terms of increasing productivity on the field. Typically, the mental and administrative burden that comes with reporting in construction is huge and it has a direct effect on project efficiency.
The use of a mobile phone or a tablet to submit or receive the latest project updates could put an end to a significant number of unnecessary calls and meetings and make room for more meaningful interactions and better quality of work.
At the moment, BIM is one of the biggest buzzwords in construction and its influence on the construction process is only expected to become bigger and bigger in the near future. The ability to exchange vital project information through an open collaborative model could function as the catalyst of change for the whole sector.
With the help of BIM technology, teams on the field can easily transfer a snag or a non-conformity from the site to an accurate 3D representation of the building just with a click of a button.
This can contribute both to the faster resolution of the problem and the prevention of more clashes in the future leading to a more efficient way of work with fewer delays and rework.
8. Hold regular meetings with the team
By now, we have focused a lot on the value digital solutions can bring to your project. Nonetheless, technology isn’t enough without the right guidance. That being said, it is a very good idea that you hold regular meetings with your teams on the boardroom and the field in order to discuss any issues that they might have.
This frequent catching-up with your team could provide valuable help with resolving problems before they grow out of proportion and with ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Moreover, these meetings should be seen by your co-workers as a safe space where they can share their thoughts and challenges in order to remain focused on their job.
9. Keep an eye on the weather
The weather is another critical parameter for every construction project as it can have a direct effect on the development of the on-site operations.
That’s why it is very essential for everyone on site to remain up-to-date with the latest weather forecasts so the field teams can plan their tasks accordingly. The protection of building materials from harsh conditions is another area that requires attention.
Digital solutions could help in that direction with the generation of weather-related reports based on the location of the project. In some tools, these reports can be incorporated to the daily progress reports and help the project team stay one step ahead and tackle any productivity problems that could emerge due to extreme weather conditions.
10. Replicate on future projects
Last but not least, it is vital that you are able to replicate the same working process on your future projects. This repetition of a successful model will lead to a consistently productive performance on site.
On top of that, it will facilitate substantially the incorporation of new members in the team as they will be asked to function within a clear and well-defined context.
It goes without saying that in order to achieve this, you need the help of historical data. Only then, you can gather and compare previous mistakes and best practices and make sure that you are on the right path.
Back to you!
It becomes evident that the advent of digital tools in construction is expected to have a strong impact on how productive the teams on the field are. However, digital solutions aren’t a cure on their own.
What are your suggestions for getting people on site working effectively? We would love to hear your input!