Instead of creating an adversarial role, every individual in the construction process must respect and cooperate with the needs of other project entities. Unless everyone at the jobsite, to include the craftsmen, the supervisor, subcontractors and the general contractor, the designer, and the project owner are willing to give and take a little and work as a team with a common objective of constructing a high-quality project on time and one budget, the only winners will be lawyers that will have to unravel the conflicts and disputes.
- Places as much emphasis on planning as on putting out fires
Productivity studies I've performed indicate that as much as 24% of an eight-hour work day is nonproductive owing to a lack of planning and scheduling. The supervisor may expend most of his day "putting out fires" that result because of inadequate planning.
Much of the "putting out fires" characteristic of the construction workday can be reduced by more attention to planning. This may entail procedures aimed at preparing a detailed overall project plan such as a critical path diagram or something as simple as setting out a work plan for tomorrow's work. Readying tools, equipment, and labor at the end of one day for work to be performed the next day can result in a reduction of wasted idle time.
Is it possible to build a construction project without planning? The answer is "yes." Is it possible to build a construction project for the least amount of time and cost without adequate planning? The answer is a resounding "no!" Consider what would happen if you headed to a new location in your automobile without taking a road map. You might eventually get there, but you would not get there in the least amount of time or for the least of cost.
- Puts a high priority on quality and safety
Last but certainly not least in importance is the concentration on obtaining a high quality of workmanship and attention to safety. A productive project is a safe and high quality project. These are compatible objectives.
Poor quality or work accidents result in people having a negative attitude about their work and company objectives. Given a work environment that stresses quality and safety, everyone attains pride-in-work and a winning spirit. It is this type of spirit and work ethic that the supervisor must promote and achieve.
Can the Supervisor Make a Difference?
Assume the supervisor does exhibit the skills or attributes set out above. How can he or she impact the project? Consider an example cost estimate for a project as illustrated in Figure 3. This is an example breakdown of the cost components for a building construction project.
As illustrated, a mere 5% increase in productivity can have the effect of decreasing the labor cost by 5%. On a $1 million project this represents a $20,000 savings in labor cost. This cost savings would result in a 100% increase in profits.
Looked at another way, studies I've performed indicate that one-third of nonproductive time is directly controllable by the supervisor. If you assume that 50% of labor costs expended in Figure 3 is nonproductive, it follows that the supervisor, by his own actions, can increase productivity by 16.7%. This represents a potential labor savings of approximately $66,667. In other words, in this analysis the supervisor decisions and actions can generate $66,667 of cost savings. This savings would generate additional profits three times greater than planned profits in the Figure 3 bid. Clearly, the supervisor can make a difference. He or she is the key to a successful project.
James J. Adrian, president of Adrian International LLC, is a regular speaker at National Pavement Expo and will present "8 Ways to Prosper as a Contractor" at National Pavement Expo West, Nov. 30- Dec. 2 in Las Vegas. For more information visit www.nationalpavementexpo.com.