Best Practices: Project scheduling and job cost/ productivity goals and feedback

President’s Letter – August 2018 – The Green Issue

Most of us are not responsible for developing the construction schedule for an entire project, but we all will benefit greatly from identifying and monitoring the activities of our scope of work. However, we’re more knowledgeable than the general contractor, owner or developer when determining the most efficient schedule, sequence and durations that will maximize our opportunity to meet or beat our estimated labor costs. 

Monitoring the construction schedule

When bidding most commercial projects there is a “contract schedule” or “base line schedule” that should be available. If it’s not provided in the bid documents you should request a copy prior to submitting your bid. This schedule will show you the way the general contractor plans to construct the building and allows you to develop your work sequence and crew size within the overall project schedule for maximum efficiency and profitability. 

Later, during the construction process, if the general contractor changes the schedule in ways that negatively impact your efficiency, protecting your rights and working to find a solution that will return productivity is paramount. Monitoring the construction schedule is a very important key to your opportunity to succeed on every project. Understanding and protecting your rights regarding construction schedules are among the most important aspects of contract management and risk management.

Set goals for your crew tailored to each project

When thinking about job site efficiency and crew productivity I remember this quote by Zig Ziglar, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” This is exactly what happens when we send our crews to a job without daily and weekly production goals specifically tailored to each project. If they don’t understand how much production is required for each room type and tile type, they will most likely miss the mark. Helping them understand how their wages relate to the estimated budget and providing them with regular feedback as the job progresses helps them connect their performance with overall profitability. Projects today are using many different types of tile and different installation methods that require more detailed and accurate information supplied to field installation crews. Not properly planning and executing this part of each project could eat away large amounts of profit in a short period of time. The more budget information shared with field crews the more they will work to meet the realistic goals set for each project.

Recoverable Lost Time

According to a study released by FMI, field employees spend 42% of their 8-hour day installing work as planned, 26% of their day is spent planning, material handling, lay-out, set-up and mobilizing, while 32% of their day is considered Recoverable Lost Time. This time is lost due to waiting for information, materials, equipment, tools, additional manpower or other trades and reworking items already installed. While I’m sure your projects never experience this level of inefficiency, there are at least 5-10 minutes per hour of lost time that could be added to the productive part of the day. This small improvement can have a big impact on your bottom line profit at the end of the year; just run the numbers.

Best in Class contractors work hard to empower their employees to know their daily goals so when something outside their control impacts their productivity, they can alert management to get the situation corrected. Every other subcontractor and most general contractors don’t care if we have a productive path to do our work. Protecting our ability to be productive in the field is a major key to overall profitability. 

Keep on tiling and pursuing best practices!
Martin Howard, NTCA president
Committee member, ANSI A108
[email protected]

Martin Howard
NTCA President, Executive Vice President of David Allen Company at |

Martin Howard is the 2017 - 2018 president of NTCA and the Executive Vice President of David Allen Company and is an owner of the company.

Martin oversees the Tile, Stone and Pre-Construction Divisions, including all branch operations. He has more than 36 years’ experience in the construction industry including 12 years in general contracting and 24 years in David Allen Company, where he has had management responsibilities in every area of the company’s tile and marble operation.