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June 8, 2021

The value of productivity and time in construction


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With a lot of studies and reports throughout the years, productivity in construction has recently become a buzzword. And as mainstream as “increase your productivity” sounds, many businesses overlook crucial aspects that if improved, could potentially result in less expenses, better time management and higher customer satisfaction. 

So what does this mean for construction businesses?

Even though construction is one of the largest sectors in the world’s economy, a 2017 report suggests that it still suffers from low productivity. The McKinsey Global Institute report on productivity in the construction industry estimated that there is a possibility of a $1.6 trillion increase in profits. But since the construction sector is the least digitized in the world, for this possibility to turn into reality certain improvements would need to be made. 

According to the MGI report, in order for construction businesses to increase profits up to 60% it is suggested that they make improvements in 7 areas simultaneously: 

  • Reshaping regulation, 

  • Rewiring the contractual framework to reshape industry dynamics, 

  • Rethinking design and engineering processes,

  • Improving procurement and supply-chain management, 

  • Improving onsite execution, 

  • Infusing digital technology, new materials, and advanced automation, as well as

  • Reskilling the workforce. 

If you would like to read more on how to improve these areas, we recommend reading MGI’s article Improving Construction Productivity that gives brief descriptions about all 7 areas and what construction businesses can do to increase productivity. 

In this post, however, we’ll be focusing on what all of the above-mentioned areas have in common: time.

The Basics

The Intergraph defines productivity as “the measure of the rate at which work is performed”. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that productivity and time are forever linked to one another. Now, this may not be a mind-blowing fact, but what will surprise you is how certain elements of time management can be tweaked so that businesses can trigger a chain reaction that leads up all the way to a boost in profits. 

While we can’t promise a smooth ride, with enough work and dedication to improving construction businesses will be able to meet deadlines, deliver satisfactory results, cut expenses and achieve this goal that everyone keeps talking about: higher productivity.

Productivity - what’s all the buzz?

Productivity is an important part of that chain reaction that we mentioned earlier. Better time management leads to increased productivity, which in turn leads to successful completion of projects, which leads to higher profits and so the chain continues. 

Furthermore, productivity is one of the elements of this chain that can actually be altered and modified to improve or boost other parts of the chain - something that thinking about profits alone would be unable to do. And this is why time and productivity go hand in hand in construction projects. It’s the reason many construction businesses are implementing different strategies to complete projects faster and more efficiently.

Remodeling provides an interesting example of how construction businesses can increase on-site productivity by creating a table and scoring method to record how current systems are performing. It focuses on identifying possible areas for improvement and giving them each a “score”. The score corresponds to how these areas are performing during certain projects. It’s a great way for businesses to reflect on their practices and see what can be changed to ensure maximum efficiency.

*Time Really Is Money: Tips for Improving On-Site Productivity by Judith Miller 

The Value of Time

Being one of the most valuable assets your business has, time is extremely crucial in helping you grow your business and build a solid reputation. In order for the construction sector to move up the ladder and start cashing in on some of that $1.6 trillion possible profit that MGI’s report suggests, making time management a priority is key. Knowing how to utilize time to the full extent enables construction businesses to work more efficiently, produce better results and differentiate themselves from competitors. 

An example of using time to increase productivity is planning out tasks and their time frames so that appropriate permits can be processed. When your project has a timed outline, you will be able to know when to apply for permits and when to schedule inspections. 

And why is it so important that you know when to process such permits and inspections? 

Well, with a defined time frame you will be saving your business a lot of time that can be used for other tasks. You won’t be juggling resources, permits and payments while simultaneously overseeing the project. 

If you’d like to learn about a few ways that you can save time on construction sites, check our post: Save Time on Construction Sites with These 3 Innovative Technologies

How is Better Time Management Beneficial for Businesses

So far we’ve discussed how crucial productivity and time are for a business’ growth and development. But what are some other benefits that come as a result of harnessing the power of time management?   

  • Lower overall construction costs - by assigning specific daily tasks that have a fixed time frame, construction workers will use their time more efficiently and clients won’t have to be billed for extra hours.

  • Breaking down time frames into milestones - when a deadline for a project is set, dividing it into milestones helps keep all employees informed of the goals and time assigned for each goal. 

  • Avoid profit loss - with efficient time management practices a construction business is able to map out costs and create preliminary reports for internal planning. This way, both the business and client are aware of the resources being spent on the project and any loss in profits from delays can be avoided. 

  • Meeting deadlines - time is one of the most valuable assets that your business has. Being able to effectively manage it results in projects completed on time or even ahead of schedule. As a result, your business grows a better reputation from impressed clients which in turn translates into more future clients. Being able to meet deadlines is a huge bonus as you build trust with clients who may hire you for other projects.

  • Fewer surprises - another major benefit of proper time management is the predictability of project outcomes. Planning out projects based on time frames reduces (if not completely eliminates) surprises that can happen throughout construction. This means that managers and employees are aware of how the project will be carried out so that any alterations can be expected. 

  • Better quality control - another perk of using time to a business’ advantage is being able to continuously assess and evaluate each step of the project. With time management protocols each milestone can be analysed to ensure the utmost quality, instead of one final quality evaluation. This also helps to quickly identify any potential problems or areas that need improvement. 

  • Effectively planning resources - construction businesses benefit greatly from efficient time management since all resources like labor and equipment will be fully utilized and not wasted.

With the construction industry slowly changing and becoming more saturated, it’s important for businesses to stay on top of their projects and give enough attention to how they can improve and differentiate themselves from competitors. With better time management practices, businesses will be able to successfully complete projects within deadlines and within budgets - maybe even save some costs and grow a reliable reputation.

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