Productivity has become a hot topic and has given rise to much discussion and debate in the project management world. Labor productivity can be a competitive advantage or a managerial disaster. Therefore, we believe that there is high potential benefit in a review of McLaughlin & McLaughlin’s Productivity Series. Below, we have the titles and links to each post followed by a brief summary of the content. We intend to augment these posts with additional writings on the subject.
- Change Order / Variation Impact (United States and Canada)
- Change Order / Variation Impact (UK and related venues)
- Improvement – Take Away the Excuses
- Productivity and Leadership
- Improvement – Productivity Evaluation
- Improvement – Plan the Work Well
- Labor Productivity and Disruption – Managerial Considerations
- Worker Productivity – Watch How the People Work
Often, productivity losses are associated with changed work or variations. Dealing with the calculation of proper compensation for this loss can be particularly challenging. Key industry resources or authorities may be helpful as a starting point. Beyond the industry resources, skilled analytical work may be needed.
My discussion is bifurcated / divided into situations using United States law and situations using English law. The English law discussion will follow in a subsequent post.
Based on the premise that variations (or changed work) are a common cause of significant impacts to productivity, acceptance and methods of calculation or quantification are essential. Methodology varies and the sources discussed above treat the matter in some detail. The general preference is direct contemporaneous analysis or measured. Prospective methodologies tend to differ from retrospective approaches. The form of analysis varies and will be discussed in later posts.
Over the years, much has been written about craft worker productivity. The Construction Industry Institute (CII) has done several extensive research projects on productivity. The issue was raised in a formal manner by the old Business Roundtable (BRT) back in the late sixties. They developed a series of publications that addressed the problem of rapidly rising construction costs facing owner companies. These articles were broadly covered by the now familiar banner of “More Construction for the Money”®.
This post discusses the some leadership concepts and the relationship to field labor (or home office labor) productivity. There is a leadership component of the managerial challenge. Leadership can have several positive influences on the labor component of the job. In exhibiting this leadership, my experience suggests several beneficial effects result. Leadership is an essential factor in development of project management expertise.
The proper evaluation of worker productivity is one very important measure in the determination of project status. To have a complete picture of the status of any project there must be some sort of measure of the productivity of the work force. Certainly, one would be interested in the physical progress, the amount of money expended, the amount committed, absenteeism and turnover rates, safety incident rate, supervision to worker ratio, craft distribution, worker density, manpower history, etc. to properly evaluate the status of a project. But one key factor in evaluation of status is worker productivity. There must be some consistent measure of the productivity of the workers on a project in order to frame the complete picture of project status.
Generally, productivity evaluation is focused on the construction craft workers. However, no less important is the productivity of the office design and engineering staff. Having said that, this article is focused on the field construction staff and evaluation of productivity in the field.
Any discussion of construction field labor (worker) productivity must, of necessity, eventually involve the idea of planning the work. Virtually every major project employs the expertise of several planners and schedulers to work the Primavera® scheduling program or some other comparable software. Great effort is placed on getting just the right schedule assembled and in place – with the right number of activities and leveled manpower, etc. However, all too often the schedule has been constructed in a near vacuum with little or no input or review from those who have to make it work in the field.
For the prime contractor [or similarly for Owner/Employer], subcontractor productivity is seemingly not important or relevant. This is particularly true if the subcontractor in question is on a fixed price or fixed unit price contract. However, events that are created by Owner/Employer or Contractor that impact the subcontractor’s productivity create potential liabilities. Further, once the subcontractor discovers the loss, a claim is likely to emerge.
Consequently, positive action is needed. There is a legitimate need for the Owner/Employer and Contractor to be informed. Managerial overlay, visibility and attention are components in the overall project management challenge.
Considering the area of worker productivity, everyone knows how the work gets done. Right? Well, it is quite obvious. You just pick up the material and put it in place. After all, how can there be anything different about doing the work? Get the material to the job site, hire craft workers, provide drawings and the project will miraculously get built.
When thinking about various construction sites, even in the US, several differences in the manner in which the exact same work is accomplished in various locations are revealed. In order to properly plan and organize construction activities, the way people work in the specific location under consideration must be understood and incorporated. For example, is it better for productivity for each pipefitter welder to have an assigned stand-alone welding machine? Or possibly, the welder should use a welding machine located in an eight-pack of welders. That question could be strictly a planning matter, or it could be related to the site location and area practice. If one approach is better than the other for the project, area practice may need to be addressed and modified in some way for improved productivity to be realized.
It is important to note that is not a law firm and is not intending to provide legal advice. M&M is a consulting firm providing (among other services) non-legal expertise in dispute resolution and litigation support. The Resource Center is for the convenience of blog visitors and M&M does not offer this for commercial purposes. For further information on M&M services, please see www.McLaughlinandMcLaughlin.com.