- Focuses on work production, cost, and risk
The supervisor commonly focuses on production when performing his supervision role. He tries to produce as much work as possible (while also focusing on the obtaining of quality). The supervisor tries to do as much earthwork or paving as he can in a specific time period.
The point is that by focusing only on production, the supervisor might improperly allocate his own supervision and management time. Consider the excavation and concrete work tasks. Excavation work can be performed for $2 to $5 per cubic yard. On the other hand, the labor and material cost combined for concrete placement work exceeds $80 per cubic yard. If excavation and concrete work is being performed today, and given the higher cost of the concrete work, you might argue that the supervisor should be focusing on the management of the concrete work.
The fact that the supervisor might not review the estimate or think "cost" might lead to a poor allocation of his own time. The supervisor must know and think cost when managing specific work tasks.
The supervisor must also think work or productivity "risk." Consider the process of placing a concrete foundation wall. It is a three-step process: forming the wall, placing rebar into the wall, and placing or pouring the concrete into the wall. The question is, "which of these three work processes has the most productivity variation?"
The answer is, forming. Owing to difficulties with the corner form, or with ties, or with aligning the forms, the amount of square feet of contact area of forming placed in any one hour can vary significantly. However, if you were to observe the three work processes, the day that everyone appears to be supervising the work closely is the day the concrete is being placed. You could argue that the day the workers are placing the forms is the day that the contractor makes or loses money. It's critical the supervisor monitor the riskier forming work process.
In summary, in allocating his management and supervision time, it is important that the supervisor consider production, unit cost, and productivity variation or risk. Review of the project estimate should aid the supervisor in paying more attention to unit cost and productivity risk.
- Monitors equipment productivity and usage
Many studies have focuses on nonproductive labor time at the job site. Given the fact that most individuals, to include the supervisor, know that a craftsman is making on the order of $20 per hour (even without benefits), attention focuses on keeping the craftsmen working. If a craftsman were standing idle for an hour or two, clearly the supervisor would reprimand him or maybe even attempt to fire him.
While it is important to keep craftsmen in a productive state, it is equally important to keep available equipment productive. Equipment and labor can be viewed as the resources a supervisor uses to perform productivity, to place material. Perhaps the only difference between a piece of equipment and craftsmen is their hourly rate or cost. Whereas a craftsman's hourly rate is $20, most construction equipment rents or has an hourly ownership rate of $40 to $200.
If you were to analyze a project, you usually would find that equipment is in a nonproductive state more than a craftsman. There are days or even weeks when a piece of equipment might stand idle at the job site.
One of the main reasons why the supervisor is not as critical regarding idle equipment versus idle labor relates to the supervisor not focusing on the equipment as a cost center. Instead, he might view a piece of equipment as a big piece of metal, a machine. Perhaps if every piece of equipment had an hourly rental or ownership cost painted on it, the supervisor would be more attentive to keeping it working. In addition, if the supervisor was accountable for productive versus standby hours of equipment time, he would be attentive to nonproductive equipment time.