Construction Monkey

Construction Monkey Blog

Last week we bid a few jobs.  This week we bid a few jobs.  Next week we will bid a few jobs.  I am sure we all know which ones we won and which ones are lost, but do we really know what happened.  Are we tracking the metrics of the projects we win?  And I don't mean just a won/lost column?  To get really good at something, we must track metrics about how we did.  Think about any NFL football team, they don't just come up with a game plan, practice it, play the game, and then start over.  They review game films and review all of the statistics possible to see what they did right and what they did wrong.  Auto racing, especially Indy/Formula One, is another great example of teams getting as much data as possible and analyzing it down to the smallest detail to find room for improvement.

I would venture to say that most Subcontractors are unfortunately spending all of their time coming up with a game plan, practicing, and playing the game than they are in analyzing past performance.  I can tell you this is flat out wrong!  Let's think about it logically, when we come up with the game plan, what is that based on?  If we don't have facts from past performance, we are creating those game plans on opinions.  Change the word opinion to Assumptions and you know what happens when we assume.

Every bid that is produced has thousands of data points that can be analyzed to ensure we have the right number and also if we win or lose the project to ensure we will win the next one.  Let's not forget that coming up with a bid at a very fundamental level is not about figuring out what our cost is, but is actually about getting a winning price.  That is a pretty simple (and probably controversial) way to look at it, but we are bidding jobs to win them, not to prove that it would cost us more to build the same project.

In a perfect world, with great systems in place, we would be constantly analyzing all of data points from both previous bids and previous projects.  I am not positive that this world exists yet, but we can't just work as if it is 1970.  Subcontractors need to keep records of the projects and mine the data when new opportunities become available to figure out a good game plan.  Winning projects is about strategy as well as price.  Going after the right project, with the right customer, with the right price, and the right team will almost always yield great results.

If you are not already doing it, you should be tracking the following data on any bids that your company is producing and reviewing the data to develop your game plan.
  • Project Category/Sub-Category (i.e. Health Care/Hospital)
  • Construction Type (i.e. Out of Ground)
  • Squarefootage
  • Customers bidding the job
  • Bid Price and Margin (duh!)
  • Competition including final results
  • Geographic Location
  • Proposed Team
  • Owner
  • Why you won or lost the project
  • Scope of work
I would consider this list a minimum, more data is not a bad thing.  You can get caught in analysis paralysis, which would be very bad for your company, but if you start you can find a good balance.

Remember, nothing great has ever been accomplished without capturing data, analysis, and a new game plan.  For the electricians reading this, you wouldn't be in your field without Franklin/Tesla/Westinghouse/Edison's constant tracking of data and analysis.

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through