• Message Still Resonates: Work Smarter, Not Harder

    June 3, 2009
    There are 10 ways to evaluate jobsite productivity

    We've all heard the expression, “Work smarter, not harder.” Certainly that's a prime objective – especially during a sluggish economy. However, most people already think they are working smart. Therefore, how can a person know if they are conducting business in a truly productive manner?

    To address these issues for the construction industry, the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) of Greater Chicago asked project management expert John R. Koontz to present his course on "Jobsite Productivity" as a webcast for its members.

    “Peak productivity is always a sought-after goal in construction – and in a poor economy, it's an absolute necessity for survival,” says Stephen Lamb, executive vice president of the MCA of Greater Chicago.

    Koontz is national director for project management and advanced supervisory education for the Mechanical Contractors Association of America. He has 15 years of jobsite experience, and has kicked around enough jobsites to be able to provide valuable insights into efficiency and productivity.

    Planning Equals Control
    In the webcast, "10 Fundamental Thoughts on Jobsite Productivity," Koontz states that on a construction jobsite, planning equals control. “If you plan it, you will control it,” he says. “If you don’t plan it, it will control you.”

    Below are just a few of Koontz’s many observations and suggestions from the webcast, which is available to contractor members of the association at the MCA of Greater Chicago website, mca.org.

    How Productive are We?
    Koontz says an eight-hour workday can be broken down into thirds: productive, supportive, and non-productive time. The challenge is to maximize the productive and supportive time while minimizing the non-productive time. To do this, one must consider the following suggestion:

    — Think Minutes, not Hours
    “Think of minutes lost like drips from a leaky faucet,” Koontz says. Every eight-hour day has 480 minutes of work time available. Thinking ahead can help to recover minutes that are usually lost to non-productive time.

    — Planning: the Foundation of a Productive Project
    According to Koontz, effective project planning comes in three stages:
    Turnover meetings so that team members can exchange information and get smart.
    Pre-construction planning so they can get ahead.
    Look-ahead planning so that they can stay ahead.

    — The 10-80-10 Rule
    Koontz explained that each workforce is composed of the following individuals: 10% are "superstars"; 80% are "Joe and Jane Average"; and 10% are "non-performers".

    For best results, Koontz says project managers should work to improve the 80% of average workers, so they can perform more like their Superstar colleagues.

    — Fabrication, Preassembly, Tagging and Bagging
    How much of a project can be manufactured in advance? When it comes to jobsites, Koontz said, “It’s a wild, wild world out there.” Manufacturing as much as possible beforehand in a fabrication shop substantially reduces unforeseen obstacles and delays.

    The Koontz webcast shares valuable suggestions for determining the size of a work crew, as well as the handling of materials on the jobsite, including quantities, storage locations, and mobility factors.

    For more information on the MCA of Greater Chicago, visit mca.org.