April 2015: Business Building

Words: George Hedley

How to Set and Track Project Goals

Headshot-George-HedleyBy George Hedley

To achieve or beat construction project goals, your field crew and team leaders must know what you want them to accomplish. Implementing a winning strategy starts with a scoreboard showing all of the tasks, milestones, and measurable targets you want them to hit. Next you must update it regularly and communicate specific project results to every team member on an ongoing real time basis. And then at the completion of your projects, you review and analyze the actual results versus the goals to determine where your team could have improved or achieved better results. The majority of contractors don’t consistently track project goals as their jobs progress and move forward. When this happens, crew moves forward in the dark at any pace deemed appropriate without statistics, targets, goals, or feedback. Seeing a final job cost report long after the project is finished doesn’t motivate, help, or provide guidance to the project superintendent or foreman. It’s too late to make changes to your day to day strategy or make up any lost progress after jobs are finished.

No targets, no results

Before you start any task you want to complete on-time or ahead of schedule, you need to know the interim milestones, deadlines, and expected completion dates. To meet the budget, you need to know and track how much resources, labor, materials, and equipment you have estimated and how much you are using as you work on the task. When project managers, superintendents, foreman, and field employees don’t know what their goals are or how well they’re doing, they can’t be held responsible or accountable to achieve results. When general contractors don’t communicate exactly what’s expected or required on projects to their subcontractors, they also can’t be held responsible to achieve milestone targets and goals. Most construction companies get awarded jobs and start them in a hurry without taking time to prepare a detailed project plan, schedule, or budget which will insure success. You’ve heard the expression, “haste makes waste.” Proceeding without clear targets or a detailed work plan will cause you to make mistakes and not achieve or exceed bottom-line results you want.

Set and track your schedule

Get the project superintendent and foreman together before the job starts and draft out a simple bar chart schedule for performing every work task. Using a blank wall, flip chart, or large white board, they work together to think through and layout all the tasks and phases required to build the project or their scope of work. The project foreman or superintendent should also develop, prepare and update two to four week “think-ahead” schedules every week to detail their plans for next month’s activity. This will cause the foreman or superintendent to look ahead and think about the upcoming deadlines, activities, tools, equipment, subcontractors, and labor required to keep the project on schedule.

Set and track your budget

After you get awarded a contract, the project team must sit down to create a line item project budget. First review the bid cost breakdown and make sure everything was covered in the bid and estimate. Make the necessary adjustments and agree on a final project budget for every line item. Your project manager will then have an overall working project budget to start with and the foreman or superintendent will have a field budget for labor, equipment, and material for work tasks their crew self-performs. On self-performed work, using input from the project manager and estimator, determine how many crew days, total labor, and equipment hours you have to complete your work. Then spread these crew days across the allotted schedule to make sure the crew days and total labor hours meet the job budget. Every month the project manager must prepare an updated job cost report for every job under construction to determine the budget versus actual costs on every line item. Starting with the line-item budget, determine the cost to date, estimated cost to complete, and any variances to determine the estimated final cost and projected profit for every job.
George Hedley works with contractors to build profitable growing companies. He is a professional business coach, popular speaker and best-selling author of “Get Your Business to Work!” available online at www.HardhatPresentations.com. To sign up for his free enewsletter, join his next webinar, be part of a BIZCOACH program, or get a $100 discount coupon for online classes at www.HardhatBizSchool.com, email GH@HardhatPresentations.com. George Hedley, HARDHAT Presentations, 800-851-8553 Return to Table of Contents
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