by Greg Birosh
Feedback is key to improvement in all aspects of construction. From the initial project planning stages with stakeholders, all the way to the final closeout, project turnover and beyond, feedback both positive and negative is the single most important tool to foster constant improvement.
Budgeting and estimating is just the beginning when it comes to project costs. An initial project budget versus the final cost of the job, while useful, is the most lagging indicator for any team to use for future performance. Being able to correlate estimates to various stages of construction and detailed scopes of work in real time is far more useful and can quickly be applied to both future changes on that particular project, as well as other jobs in progress or upcoming.
Throughout construction, feedback needs to flow in all directions. The most satisfied participants in the course of a project, whether they be an owner, contractor, end user, employee of any of the above, or others that may be involved along the way, are those whose expectations are being met. The only way to determine if expectations are indeed being met, is through feedback. First, expectations must be clearly laid out up front, but that’s another discussion. It is important to remember that feedback comes in many forms.
There are several formal metrics that can provide a considerable amount of feedback. Is the project schedule being met? Were all the stakeholders involved in creating that schedule in the first place? Frequent progress updates can be compared to the schedule to provide a quick snapshot. When everyone involved understands the variables and circumstances, satisfaction with the process and the project can be achieved. Is the project profitable? Provided costs are tracked accurately against project codes created up front, cost reports compared against those progress and schedule updates provide a significant near-real-time analysis of a project’s financial performance. It is critical that this information be shared as quickly as possible, good or bad, especially with those charged with determining cost and schedule of projects in the future, in order to learn from it quickly.
All of this data is only a small part of feedback as a whole. Frequent conversations and communication will provide a wealth of information about the customer’s experience, whether or not employees are satisfied with their situation and performing at high levels as a result, and many other indicators of project success.
Last, but certainly not least, consider those intangible forms of feedback through one’s own personal experiences, intuition, history, and gut feelings that present themselves along the way. Feedback is everywhere. Learn to listen and learn. It will be the most valuable information for creating constant improvement.
Feedback, both positive and negative, must not be feared, but rather embraced, as it is an essential component to performing at a high level. While it may not always be easy to hear, or even understand, a construction industry professional cannot succeed at his or her job any more than an elite athlete can compete and win, without feedback pointing the way to achievement.
Greg is a member of Welliver’s in-house pre-construction services team where he provides expertise in mechanical, plumbing, and electrical budgeting. He becomes involved in a project at the conceptual stage, collaborating with the architect and construction team. As the design progresses and the project focus shifts, Greg will update costs while remaining cognizant of budget and the owner’s vision of the finished product. He works with clients representing a broad range of market sectors including higher education, industrial, healthcare, and K-12 education. Feedback plays an important role in the success of a construction project. Based on his experience working with teams who all bring different agendas to a project, Greg knows when all stakeholders involved talk to each other, the team is set up to succeed – everyone’s objectives are managed, the project schedule stays on track, and the budget complies with financial expectations.