It’s that time of year again. The kids are heading back to school (fingers crossed, with talk of a Seattle Public School strike!), college is in session again, and as the weather cools and we transition from cold brew season to pumpkin spice latte season, it’s a natural impulse to think about brushing up our own skills.
One of our favorite ways to contribute to continual education for our clients is our Project Boot Camp, and we’re offering it for the first time ever to individual sign ups through ABC of Western Washington.
As a lead-in to that course (which examines all of this in much greater detail) we thought we’d spend some time in this week’s blog post discussing the elements your team should be thinking about on every single construction project.
Contracts don’t exactly make for light reading material, but it’s important that every key person on the project understand the scope as it’s written in the contract (not just on your proposal as the finished contract can look very different than the initial proposal!)
Your foremen are the front line of your operation. Protecting your profit depends on flagging changed conditions or out of scope work requests at the first moment possible, and that means counting on your foremen. If they don’t have ready access and thorough understanding of the specific scope of the project, they can’t fill that role.
Another important element of scope involves the items we commonly miss. The earlier in the process that we can flag these scope holes, the better. We recommend that our clients track a list of commonly missed scope items, and review it before signing every single contract. When we can completely and accurately identify the scope of work before we ever set foot on the job, we can bypass unnecessary conflict and ensure that there are no surprises for anyone involved.
We have many clients who are smaller outfits and haven’t yet implemented scheduling tools. Whether you’re sketching Gantt charts by hand or using Project Scheduling software, you should have a solid understanding of the Critical Path of your project.
The Critical Path refers to the series of activities that will hold up the rest of the project if they aren’t finished on schedule. It’s important that you understand your Critical Path as well as how your work interfaces with the whole project’s Critical Path.
Knowing which activities will contribute to delays for you or other trades, and which activities can afford to finish late gives you an enormous amount of control over your schedule and ultimately your ability to finish the job on time and with everyone smiling.
Many smaller companies underestimate the vital importance of daily reporting. After a long day working in the field, it often feels redundant and overly heavy to sit down and write out a report of everything that happened.
If your team falls into the camp where dailies don’t regularly get completed or where they’re not implemented at all, it may be worth taking another look at a valuable tool you’re missing out on.
If the best tool you have to protect your bottom line on a project is flagging changed conditions or out of scope work (and it is!) daily reporting is where that happens. The information gathered in daily reports is your direct line to catching changes, understanding safety conditions and being able to proactively handle anything on a project that might need special handling. While we always hope to avoid intractable conflict, in the event of a court case, well-maintained and regularly kept daily reports are some of the least biased documents at your disposal.
The value of daily reporting doesn’t end there. If we want to build a better mousetrap, that starts with productivity tracking. We need to understand the effort going into a project, and the results that come out of that effort in order to make improvements. Daily reports are the best source for the data that measures our input (how many people, how many hours) and our output (how many floors, how many units).
Boot camp is offered in a two part series, because we try to keep any given course around the four hour mark and this Boot Camp is packed with too much information to squeeze into a single session.
Watch for the second post in this series next week, where we’ll go into the basics from the second session of Project Boot Camp: Punchlist Management, Tracking Productivity and Managing Change.
In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the subjects from today’s post, you can sign up for a single seat in our upcoming Project Boot Camp with ABC or contact us today to talk about setting up a session of our Boot Camp that is geared specifically to your team.