Construction Monkey

Construction Monkey Blog

In my last blog, I discussed the need to track productivity to increase the performance of the company which now comes up with the natural question: What do we track?  It is actually not too difficult to figure out, unless you make it too difficult.  Since there are so many items in construction from 1/4 x 20 nuts to duct work, the scale of what we are tracking is immense. 

Keep it Simple
With the continual improvement in estimating systems, the take-off and extension and include more and more minor details.  This can be a very bad thing as when we are looking at tracking production on a project we might default to each and every little piece.  Just like an estimator does, create units.  Units everyone can understand from your journeymen to your apprentices.  For example footage of ductwork, number of light fixtures, amount of chilled water pipe, etc.  There is no need for an elaborate scheme of light fixture type A, type B, type C, etc.  Yes the more detailed the look the better the data, given one assumption: that the data collection is accurate.  What I have seen is that the more items being tracked the more inaccurate the data. 

Also, don't worry about matching the estimate, this can be a brand new item like duct work.  In the estimate there are all sizes of ductwork, but it may make sense to combine them for tracking.  What is important is whatever unit you come up with should be translated from the estimate (so you can get a base production rate) and should be easily communicated to the field.

Break it Down By Area
On most medium and larger projects you will have areas of the building (i.e. first floor, second floor, etc).  Once you figure out what to track, break down your estimate and track your units by area.  This will do a couple of things for you: it make it easier to perform a cost to complete and it breaks down potential different labor production areas like a corridor versus a gym.

Understand the Estimated Unit
When you are coming up with what is in the estimate, be sure you understand the unit.  A lot of times estimates will include in their production units supervision, clean-up, staging, safety, etc.  If they do or don't make sure you understand it so you don't miss something.  The key to this type of tracking is making sure you are scope to scope (meaning whatever the estimate has in the unit you calculate make sure the field is including the unit they are reporting).

Post the Goals and the Results
When you start the project walk through all of the production goals and units with the team.  Ensure that they understand the unit.  Breakdown the unit it more understand units like number of sticks of conduit per hour or pallets of diffusers per day.  Be sure that that everyone understands the goal and has a way personally knowing if they are beating the goal.

Weekly you should post the results versus the previous week and the goal.  Take some time with your team to use this as a learning experience.  If you are much better than expected, find out what is going right.  If not, find out what is going wrong.  You will find that a lot of production related problems are not due to the laziness of the crew, but is due to poor training, poor material staging, or poor sequencing by the general.  If you are tracking production you can bring these issues to light and get them corrected.

Production Tracking is about Defining, Setting, Sharing, Reporting, and Analyzing.  If you do all four, you will be more profitable.

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