This last week I’ve had a cold which has made me feel tired and I have to constantly stop what I’m doing to blow my nose. This has impacted my work making me less efficient and leading to mistakes. Just as our performance suffers when we are ill our projects can suffer when they’re ill, or when they aren’t running as well as they should.
Do you know if your project is healthy, or is there cancer that’s slowly eating your profits and impacting progress?
Construction Projects Healthy Tests
We are encouraged to undergo regular health check-ups. In the same way, our projects undergo health check-ups. These may include:
Reviewing the updated construction schedule monthly
We check to see that the project is progressing on schedule and take action when there’s slippage.
Monthly cost reports
Most companies require monthly project cost reports so their financial performance can be assessed against the budget.
Reviewing safety statistics
It should be common practice to review the monthly safety statistics and ensure the project hasn’t had serious accidents or is at risk of accidents occurring.
This normally includes reviewing the non-conformance reports for the previous month.
The problem with most health checks is that they aren’t always reliable. They also sometimes detect the problem when it’s too late or the problem is already large. Of course, some problems are misdiagnosed or the wrong treatment is prescribed. Then there are many who choose to ignore the warning signs and carry on as normal.
Can we detect unhealthy projects earlier?
Unfortunately, many managers try to manage their projects from the office, relying on meetings, emails, and reports to monitor their projects. However, there’s nothing that beats actually walking the project, being in the field and interacting with your team. When you do these walks, it’s usually obvious when the project isn’t healthy.
Is the project neat and organized, or is it chaotic?
Is everyone busy or are some standing around underutilized?
Is all the equipment being efficiently used?
Does there appear to be a plan in place?
When I walk around my projects I constantly look for 3 things:
- Is the project safe? Are people working safely?
- Is the quality of our work acceptable? Am I proud of the workmanship?
- Could we do things better? Are we as productive as we should be?
But it’s also important to talk to your team. Observe how they interact with each other. Are they working as a team? Are they motivated to produce quality work, safely and as productively as possible? Do they have the right skills and equipment? Is morale good? Happy workers will be more productive than those who are simply waiting for the next pay-day.
As I walk around the field I also ask the following questions:
- Are we constructing what we bid or quote for?
- Are the site conditions as expected at the bid stage?
- Has the client fulfilled all their obligations in the contract?
If the answer to any of these questions is no there may be reasons to file for a change order.
Have you talked to your customers recently? What do they think of the project’s progress and quality? You may be surprised at what they have to say – but hopefully not disappointed! But they will almost certainly appreciate the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Is your project performing like a well-trained and fit sports team or is it wheezing like a group of old men who’ve just climbed a flight of stairs? Is your project healthy, or are you waiting to assess those health checks at the end of the month? What will those health checks tell us, and will we know how to react to any bad news?
Being in the field enables us to perform a quick health check on our project – kind of like taking its temperature and checking the pulse. Detecting an unhealthy project early may enable you to take early preventative action to prevent the problems from becoming worse, or perhaps just simmering away, sapping the project’s energy every day.