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progress begins to sputter.
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e^**5_ is the tool to nrpvent this

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16

Compact

Equipment

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SCHOVVIAM

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constiuction contractois fail to do


a fiaction ot the planning tequiied
to piovide foi the desiied successful
outcome. Planning in football is not
ladically diffeient fiom the planning
that should take place on construction projects (see Exhibit 1).

Fxhibit I

Halftime

7?**
're-Game
Practices
and
Drills

Pre-Play
Huddle
and
Timeouts

Post-Game
Reviews

Short-Interval
Planning

Pre-Job
Planning

Daily
Huddle

Kick Off, Finish,


and Post Job

erceptions are not always


reality. An average professional football game
lasts approximately three
hours. However, actual
game play accounts for only a small
portion of the time teams occupy the
field the time when the ball is actually in play amounts to just 11 to 13
minutes. Another perception in football is that the game begins with the
initial kick-off. The reality is it begins
long before the coin toss, with coaches and players drafting plays, screening game film and running drills. By
the start of the game, coaches and
players alike have invested hundreds,
perhaps thousands, of hours in planning for a mere 12 minutes of football.
So why do construction firms not
follow these same principles? In a
construction project with a schedule duration of one year, the amount
of planning required to parallel the
football example before would translate into approximately 45 million
days of planning. While this number is obviously unrealistic, many

Cxhlblt 2

"Project Management Prepai ation"


Review the plans
Review the proposal and scope letter

'Days 3efore

the

Game

Playing the game is always more


fun than talking about the game.
However, games are won and lost in
the preparation. An all too common
occurrence in construction is an estimator barking "Hey Joe, be on the
(insert job name here) on Monday. I
put a set of plans in your mailbox."
Dangerous words for a dangerous
time. Coaches in professional football never walk onto the field on Sunday and tell the quarterback, "Okay,
here's your playbook. Now go out
there and win, baby!" As absurd as
this sounds, contractors do this daily.
Proper preparation begins with prejob planning. Each step in the planning process formalizes the transition
from the "get work" team to the "do
work" team and generates buy-in on
how the work was won in the first
place. Allowing the players an opportunity to become familiar with
the details of the project before the
pre-job planning meeting increases
the effectiveness of the process. Consider this time an opportunity for the
project team to do its homework and
scout the field. Great pre-job planning consists of at least two of the
three phases listed in Exhibit 2.

f-la Iff ime, Timeoufs


Afafion
lireaks

and

Planning doesn't end after the initial kick-off. Often, a great offensive
plan rarely measures up when it actually meets the defense it was designed to defeat. Consider the 2007
Super Bowl. Weeks of planning for a
game in sunny Miami were met with
swirling winds and sheeting rain.
Does this mean the planning was ineffective and a waste of time? No. In
fact, the planning provided a basis
for the resulting game play and undoubtedly included a list of options
or contingency plans from which to
deal with such unfortunate circumstances.

Develop management's "plan of attack"

"Handoff to Management"
Strategy of the bid
Budget review
Strategy to profit
Sales promises
interpretations and calculations
Project buy out

"Handoff to the Field"


Mobilization strategy
Exit strategy
Resource management plan
Personnel development
Customer management plan

It is myopic to think the baseline


plan will never need adjusting. How
often do construction firms develop
such contingency plans? Poor weather along with poor designs, late deliveries and labor shortages are several
of the typical challenges facing the
average contractor. As frequently as
many of these conditions occur, contractors often deal with them in a reactive manner, as if it is the first time
they have encountered such hardships. Therefore, planning needs to
continue long into the game.
Many managers confuse scheduling and planning. A three-week,
look-ahead
schedule
generated
through some sophisticated scheduling software is not a substitution for
planning. Superintendents and foremen should engage in short-interval
planning on a weekly or bi-weekly
basis. Through the planning process,
superintendents and foremen prepare
to achieve the schedule and expose
what could inhibit their ability to do
so. Project managers use this tool as
their priority list for the current week
in an effort to keep their crews and
trade contractors moving in a positive direction.
w w w . c o m p a c t e q u i p . c o m >;< 17

Exhibit s

mAAJAf Li.

AAAAfSA

.i,i AASAS

Internal Punch i ist

Finish Superintendent

January 22, 2 0 0 8

Customer Punch List

Project Manager

January 31, 2O08

As-Butlt Drawings

Project Engineer

January IS, 2 0 0 8

Warranty Letter

Project Manager

February 1, 2 0 0 8

Uncollected Monies

Project Manager/AR Clerk

January 15, 2 0 0 8

Outstanding Change Orders

Project Manager

January 10, 2 0 0 8

Trade Contractor Work Lists

Shell Superintendent

January 20, 2 0 0 8

A short-interval plan should include projected labor resources, material needs and equipment utilization.
This provides the field manager an opportunity and mechanism to project
needs and manage concerns. A "best
of class" plan should also include:
Q Customer concerns
Q Design concerns
n Trade contractor concerns
o Material and equipment lists
13 Labor resource needs

Huddle Up
While the ultimate goal of scoring
is paramount, individual plays are
called during the 25 seconds in between. Each player has a designated
responsibility and goal for the next
play. No confusion, no wasted motion. Crews often begin their days
without knowing what they are building. It is even rarer that they have a
goal for the day in mind. The first
five minutes of each day should be
dedicated to orienting the crew and
focusing them on the goal of the day.
Goals can be as simple as painting
the third floor or installing the steel
from column line A to column line B.
A quality daily huddle process should
also include the following items:
Q Safety concerns and hazards
D Material needs
n Impediments to daily production
At the end of the day, the superintendent should indicate the actual
achievements so the crew can compare
its progress to the goal.
18 Compact Equipment ><
; October 2014

Two-A\mufe

Warning

For many organizations, projects


hit the 90 percent complete mark and
progress begins to sputter. Field managers shift to bigger projects. Long schedules begin to take their toll on crews
and teams, testing the crews' mental
fortitude and draining their crispness.
The remaining 10 percent of the project often costs an additional 20 percent
to 25 percent more than the budget.
A contractor's exit strategy is the tool
to prevent this fourth quarter letdown.
At a minimum, the exit strategy should
include the following items as detailed
in Exhibit 3. For most firms, these
items are intuitive, but the lack of accountability at the conclusion of the
project creates a sense of nebulousness.
The challenge is clearly defining the
roles at the end of the project. Without
fail, the line between punch list work
and incomplete work becomes blurred.
The punch-list SWAT team becomes
the receptacle for anything the original
team does not want to do. A meeting
designed to circle the wagons at the
end of a project helps galvanize and focus the project team. The project team
agrees on the outstanding work and
receives the necessary "education" to
make a smooth transition. This meeting also has the ability to inject some
life into the waning moments.

The Locker

'Room Speech

Reporters shove microphones and


mini-recorders in the face of exhausted
players. What went wrong? What went
right? Four quarters of football are dissected to understand the successes and
shortcomings before the next game.
While most construction projects are
not recorded (and thankfully not on
national television), it is essential to

engage some mechanism to conduct a


consistent autopsy of pioject successes
and shoitcomings, A post-job teview
piovides an education fot not only the
pioject team but should piovide lessons
learned toi the entile oiganization.
Cultuially, pioject teams need to see
the value in having such a meeting.
However, many organizations use this
opportunity to simply evaluate the losing projects. Consider the message sent
to the organization when the only time
a post-job review occurs is on a project deemed a failure. Lessons can be
gleaned from successes and often have
a greater impact on the organization
when celebrating rather than admonishing the players.
Therefore, post-job reviews must
avoid the blame game. The organization is better served to engage in an introspective analysis of the project. For
example: What could I, the estimator or
superintendent, have done differently?
What would I characterize as my greatest success? This provides a more constructive venue and enables dialogue to
focus on real issues rather than individuals crafting a defense strategy against
an inquisition.
The final component of the post-job
review involves delivering the message
company-wide. The lessons learned
need to be shared with the rest of the
organization. Armed with the knowledge of what works and what does not
work, managers and superintendents
not only know where to look when a
new project begins but can use the past
lessons (good and bad) as a resource and
a stable foundation.
Coaches carefully calculate the points
needed to force overtime or win the
game. Fans hold their breath with every
reception as precious seconds tick off
the clock. The construction clock never
stops for station breaks, timeouts or instant replay and construction planning
may never yield shining silver trophies
or trips to amusement parks, but consistent, standardized planning best practices do have the ability to dramatically
improve profit margins.
Gregg Schoppman is a principal with
FMI. He specializes in the areas of productivity and project management. He
also leads FMI's project management
consulting practice. Schoppman may be
reached at 813.636.1259 or via e-mail at
gschoppman@fminet.com.

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