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You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure

You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 87) – All IMHO:

“You cannot manage what you do not measure” is an old management adage that I think is applicable to property development and project management. Lets break this down:

“Manage”: Verb; be in charge of, run, administer i.e. run the show

“Measure”: Verb; ascertain amount, size or degree of i.e. quantify

I am equally mortified and depressed by how chaotic property construction offices are. Everyone from the main contractor down seems to be trying to survive the project. Nobody can lay their hands on accurate information or answer questions such as, how many Submittals or RFI’s are outstanding? 

To manage a project the first step is to “quantify the project”. It is necessary to know the magnitude of what exactly you are managing. If as a project manager and do not know the key project metrics at all times you are, IMHO, effectively a “stuffed shirt” and nice “haircut” with little effectiveness.

Why do construction companies not have honed processes for managing projects and information? Many will say they do, but in 36 years I have not seen evidence of this. Most contractors will produce a Primavera construction programme with thousands of activities that literally nobody uses or understands. The real use for this, IMHO, is for claiming extensions of time and extras that would not be necessary if the project was managed properly. 

Alex Katsanos did a great post on this very subject ( ).

The following metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are, IMHO, crucial to the effective management of property construction projects and should be updated in realtime:

Construction Project Management – KPI’s

  • Toal number of Construction Days (Schedule/Programme)
  • Total number of Safe (no acident) Working Days
  • Total number of Submittals and their status – target completion ASAP
  • Total number of RFI’s and their status
  • Total number of Client change orders and their status
  • Total number of Instructions and their status
  • Total number of Sub-contracts to be issued and their status – target completion ASAP
  • Total number of Vendor orders to be issued and their status – target completion ASAP
  • Total number of Record (As Built) Drawings and their status – target completion early
  • Total number of O&M Manuals and their status – target completion early
  • Target Power On Date and status
  • Target Water On Date and status
  • Target Gas On Date and status

These KPI’s should be published, then used to “gamify” and reward early completion. If I was a property development manager again, I would want to see the metrics above in dashboard format each month. 

So why the chaos? Lets look at submittals. Prior to deploying to site it is possible to produce a list of necessary submittals. The submittal process is critical path as it precedes procurement of key items and therefore should be managed closely as a risk.

What happens in real life? The main contractor enters into contract with say, the electrical sub-contractor. Now the submittal process for electrical is not the main contractors problem and in many cases the main contractor does not manage the electrical contractor. Everyone is in their contractual silo’s and the issue compounds with each additional sub-contractor. 

The result is opaque information management, duplication of management & reporting systems, late procurement and risk. Frequently when the commissioning engineer arrives at the end of the project some submittals are not approved. The controls sequence of operation being the usual offender. 

I think what owners/developers fail to understand is that this chaos is caused by the main contractors devolving risks and management tasks into their supply chain. Most main contractors are effectively management contracting, they are not constructors. 

I believe the future belongs to Integrated Design and Construction (IDC) companies. One day an IDC firm will come along and change the sector via single point responsibility and honed management processes from design to delivery. This firm will be the “Apple” of property delivery, bring it on………

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer 

Related posts & links:

#33 – Project Management & Commissioning KPI’s  ( )

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