Written by Nicholas Aloisio
Let’s pretend someone gave you a crystal ball and by simply gazing into it, you would know whether the projects you are currently working on would be profitable or not. How much would you pay for something like that? Seem like a pipe dream? It’s not. We work with clients all over the country who are incorporating strategies and tools to make project outcomes more predictable very early on. Profitability in construction projects is sometimes more like a roll of the dice rather than something in your control. This blog post is meant to give an introduction to 3 of those strategies that construction leaders across the country are implementing to better forecast and predict project outcomes at a very early stage.
1: Listen to Your “Experts”
Being a leader in a construction company is a challenging gig. Most times, your team is looking at you to guide project decisions. One of the most challenging aspects of this is the fact that, most times, you are sort of flying blind. Think of it like this, if someone told you to get from point A to Point B and told you nothing else, how would you accomplish that task? Ask 10 different people and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. Some will get there quicker than others. The same is true with construction projects. As project managers, we need a GPS or at least help with navigation. So, where does this help come from? Simple, lean on your team of “experts”, your field personnel. After you pick your jaw up off the floor, hear me out. Chances are, these individuals are much closer to the realities of job sites than you are. They know what obstacles are going to throw them off and typically do their best to circumvent them in the field. What if we were to bring them into the process sooner and lay out a proper plan before the project even begins? Sound crazy? Some of the leading contractors all across the nation have already begun to incorporate this process into their projects. It’s called Work Breakdown Structure and it is one of the keys to reducing variance and making your projects more predictable.
2: Prefab, Prefab, Prefab
Predictability in construction projects is directly tied to the level of control that you can maintain as a project manager and leader. One simple way to gain some control is by using prefabrication. Let me be clear, this does NOT mean to go and purchase the largest building you can find and try to set up a Taj Mahal prefab shop. The reality is, every contractor that even has a small space to work with off site can incorporate some level of prefabrication. Start with a corner in your shop and assemble fixtures before going to the job site. Once you master the basics, you can move on to more and more robust offerings inside your shop and, eventually roll out a prefab shop that will be the envy of all your peers. The bottom line, keep it simple at first.
3: The Right Process is Key
It truly is amazing to me the amount of times that I work with a client that has purchased construction software or tech and is beyond frustrated with it within a few short months. The industry is saturated with new software that claims to be that “silver bullet” that is going to take your company to the next level. The reality is, however, without first understanding and laying out an effective process, that frustration is going to continue. Finding a partner to aid in a new initiative like this is key. You must select potential partners based on their level of knowledge, not in terms of their product, but in terms of their understanding of the construction industry in general and, most importantly, what challenges exist. The right partner will help you in laying out a process for adopting the new tools throughout your project team, not just provide technical support on how to log in ,set up, etc. By setting up a process at the same time you implement these new tools and having a 3rd party expert assisting you in that implementation, your risk of failure drops dramatically.