Start Every Project On Target

Before you start a project review the job, set project goals and develop a plan to finish the project successfully

Start every project with a plan for success, and communicate that plan to all team members involved.
Start every project with a plan for success, and communicate that plan to all team members involved.

To achieve project goals, you must have clear written targets and communicate them to every member of your team. Most construction companies get awarded jobs and start them in a hurry without a plan for success. You’ve heard the expression, ‘haste makes waste.’ Proceeding without clear targets or plans will cause you to miss opportunities and not achieve the bottom-line results you want.

After you get awarded a contract, take time to review the job, set some project goals and develop a plan to finish your project successfully. Take an hour and gather your company project team together to map out a plan to make your project a success. First, determine which of your company’s team members will help you hit your goals.

Who's on your team?

  • Owner
  • Vice President
  • Sales
  • Estimator
  • Accounting
  • Administration
  • Project Manager
  • General Superintendent
  • Superintendent
  • Foreman
  • Crew Leader

After determining who’s on your project team, have them use this Pre-Project Planning Checklist as a guide to start every project on target.

Pre-Project Planning Checklist

A Project Administration Checklist is an easy way to determine all project requirements. Assign a construction administrator to gather the information for the team to use throughout the project. This will save you lots of time.

  1. Review your bid and estimate
  2. Read complete contract
  3. Review complete plans and specifications
  4. Visit the jobsite
  5. Complete ‘Project Administration Checklist’ (see below)
  6. Execute contract
  7. Set-up project budget
  8. Establish project goals and targets (see below)

Project Administration Checklist

  1. Insurance requirements
  2. Payment procedures
  3. Notice and documentation required
  4. Change order procedures
  5. Authorized signers
  6. Project schedule deadlines
  7. Project close-out requirements
  8. Bonding requirements
  9. Cash-flow requirements
  10. Required shop drawings
  11. Required submittals
  12. Long lead items
  13. Required meetings
  14. City and permit requirements
  15. Special materials logistics
  16. Special tools and equipment
  17. Site accessibility
  18. Temporary facilities and protection
  19. Project directory, contacts and email
  20. Subcontractor and supplier list

Set your targets

Setting project goals is simple. Think about what you are trying to accomplish on each particular job. Only set a few goals for every project. Outline them clearly and let the team determine what they are shooting for. Use this Project Goals and Targets planning guide to set the targets for your project.

Project Goals & Targets Planning Guide

  1. Schedule and milestones
  2. Quality and close-out
  3. Budget vs. final
  4. Bid vs. final profit
  5. Communication
  6. Change orders
  7. Safety
  8. Customer satisfaction
  9. Customer relationships
  10. Customer referrals

Start every job with a pre-job start-up meeting

Walk through the mud, kick the dirt, smell the air, and get excited! Now it’s time to start construction. Hold a pre-job start-up meeting, on the jobsite, with every project team member and subcontractor. Get focused, outline the goals and objectives, make commitments, avoid potential conflicts and make your project a success.

Invite every member of the project team. They all have an important part to play. Include the project owner, architect, engineers, general contractor, all subcontractors, major suppliers, and in some cases the lender or real estate broker. If in doubt, insist that they attend. Some will say, “We don’t need to come to the pre-job meeting.” They’re wrong! They might have lots of experience and know how to handle field problems or delays, but, if everyone meets together before your job starts, I guarantee your project has a much better chance to avoid potential conflicts, finish ahead of schedule and stay under budget.

Hold your pre-job start-up meeting PRIOR to starting work. Many subcontractors and suppliers will fight you on this. They don’t want to take the time to attend your meeting. The masonry contractor or rough carpenter might say, “I don’t need to be out there for three months!” To get everyone on the same page, every project team player must attend including the mason, framer, electrician and carpet contractor. At the meeting, discuss the importance of teamwork, project milestones and how everyone counts on each other and will have to work together to hit the project targets.

Hold the meeting on site. Don’t even consider your office conference room. It may be inconvenient to go out to the site, but once everyone stands on-site, the project becomes a priority. It engages the senses as your team sees the players, the problems, and the issues - it becomes real and urgent.

Have the project manager and superintendent run the meeting. When the company owner runs the meeting, these two don’t become responsible or accountable. They must get together before the meeting to prepare and get ready to explain project plan to the team. Don’t let them “wing it.”

The pre-job start-up meeting agenda

  1. Review project goals and objectives. Often, subcontractors think price is most important on every job. But schedule, quality, value engineering or customer relationships may be the most important factor. When everyone understands what targets to aim for, project goals can be met.
  2. Issue all subcontracts for execution before starting the job. All the subcontractors can then discuss issues, problems and conflicts immediately and get them resolved early. This forces the project manager to commit to all of the trades early on, freeing up time later to just concentrate on building the project.
  3. Issue approved plans and specifications. Review them together and make sure every subcontractor understands what’s required.
  4. Issue the project schedule. The superintendent can then discuss the work flow, anticipated problems, coordination and long lead items. Follow with an open discussion of the schedule between all subcontractors and suppliers.
  5. Review job and safety rules. These include jobsite hours, safety, noise restrictions, clean-up requirements, equipment, adjacent property concerns, etc.
  6. Review permit, license and special inspection requirements. Identify who will be responsible for each of these and when they will be required. 
  7. Issue a required shop drawing and submittal list. List out when everything is needed, who approves them and timing. This step can reduce delays by prompting everyone to identify long lead items and order them early on.
  8. Review payment procedures. Include procedures for invoices, releases, joint checks, authorization and timing.
  9. Review project insurance requirements. 
  10. Review the change order system. Explain the approval process from pricing to review and payment. Include estimated timeframes, allowable markups and who is authorized to sign.
  11. Conclude with an open discussion. Allow everyone to share their concerns, issues and comments. Addressing them early, with all parties present, saves time, money and headaches later.

This simple meeting has made a dramatic positive difference in our construction business. The quality of work has improved, we finish jobs faster and field problems have been virtually eliminated. Customers, architects, subcontractors and suppliers are happier. The client gets what they want, and everyone makes more money. An investment of a few hours before you start every project is a small price that will lead to hitting a bulls eye every time.

George Hedley works with contractors to build profitable growing companies. He is a professional business coach, popular speaker and best-selling author of “Get Your Business To Work!” available online at  To sign-up for his free e-newsletter, join his next webinar, be part of a BIZCOACH program, or get a discount coupon for online classes at, e-mail