eight31consulting https://www.eight31consulting.com Construction Project Consulting Sat, 03 Dec 2016 00:21:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Construction Progress Meetings: What’s the Purpose? https://www.eight31consulting.com/construction-progress-meetings-whats-purpose/ https://www.eight31consulting.com/construction-progress-meetings-whats-purpose/#respond Sat, 03 Dec 2016 00:21:30 +0000 http://www.eight31consulting.com/?p=562 Anyone who has ever been involved with management of a construction project has been in an unproductive, useless meeting at some point. Such meetings are so common they’re used in scenes in sitcoms and movies, and we can all relate in one way or another. But on a construction project, ineffective progress meetings can harm […]

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construction progress meetingsAnyone who has ever been involved with management of a construction project has been in an unproductive, useless meeting at some point. Such meetings are so common they’re used in scenes in sitcoms and movies, and we can all relate in one way or another. But on a construction project, ineffective progress meetings can harm communication, schedules and the overall productivity of the project, equating to loss of time and money.

So, what’s the problem with progress meetings anyway?

Construction progress meetings are required meetings that typically take place every week or every other week at the job site. All vested parties are required to attend as a contractual obligation throughout the project. Generally, all parties communicate information needed to keep the project moving forward and to deal with the many issues that arise in the course of work.

In a perfect world, construction progress meetings would have a specified date and time to occur each week and all parties would show up ready to be productive and responsible players. They’d have a specific, clear agenda and purpose, they would finish at a specific time, and they would be well-attended by relevant parties. Every party would go away with clearly defined action items, set to reconvene at the next meeting with forward momentum and item resolution.

We don’t live in a perfect world, however.

What have I observed instead?

  • Disorder: Meetings, when they happen, don’t start on time and they just end when they end. Parties show up and wait for someone else to take the lead because no facilitator has been assigned.
  • Disengagement: Most parties in attendance have experienced the waste of time these meetings can be and usually feel like they are just a project get together. This leaves the meeting participants frustrated and often times willing or even eager to reschedule or miss the meeting. And when they do attend, they feel they can spend the time managing business from their phone or thinking about other things.
  • Dishonor: A lot of time is spent reviewing logs of information, looking for items to discuss, or blame to be pointed. The lack of respect for everyone’s time and the valuable role they play just adds to the lack of desire to participate in a meaningful and honest way.
  • Disinterest: The most important player in the meeting—the contractor’s superintendent—is usually restless and distracted, spending most of the meeting checking his phone and e-mail, answering questions, and giving direction to subcontractors who interrupt the meeting to get answers.
  • Distortion: Architects cover items and issues important to them without mentioning shortcomings. Contractors do not provide open and honest reporting of problems and issues and don’t hold themselves accountable. Minutes generated after such a lopsided meeting reflect the viewpoint of only one party rather than capturing the actual meeting or the real needs of the project and owner.
  • Disorganization: Participants spend too much time reviewing logs of information between the contractor and architect looking for something to be discussed. Contractor progress reports are hard to follow and don’t tie in to the overall schedule. There is no report on quality of work; defects are not tracked and corrections are not reported. There is no formal problem-solving method and no active to-do list, so issues are rarely solved.

construction progress meetingsIn short: most attendees at a Construction Progress Meeting can barely sit through them because they are so poorly designed and managed. And no one typically looks forward to them. The meetings are not strategic, and if they weren’t a contractual obligation, contractors likely just wouldn’t have them. The general consensus by the majority of participants is wanting them to be shorter or not to happen at all.

A Solution: The 90-Minute Construction Progress Meetings

After attending hundreds of construction progress meetings over my career, I finally had enough. Drawing on my business consulting experience, I developed a 90-Minute format for Construction Progress Meetings which have taken them from ineffective and useless to meaningful and worthwhile.

A successful Construction Progress Meetings will have:

  • Consistency: Same day, same time, same agenda.
  • Punctuality: Showing up on time is late; showing up early is on time. Start on time, end on time.
  • Strategy: The first half of the meeting is reporting; the second half is solving issues. Discussion during the first half of the meeting goes on one of two lists—the to-do list or the issues list—and tabled for the second half of the meeting.
  • Accountability: Items on the to-do list are assigned a name and must be completed by the next meeting. No discussion is necessary. Items on the issues list are discussed and solved.
  • Feedback: Meetings end on time and all participants rate the meeting on a scale of 1 to 10.
  • Consensus: If there are unresolved issues at the end of the meeting, the group decides whether to continue on to solve the issues or table them for the next meeting.
  • Efficiency: Reporting is precise and quick with minimal discussion. Rambling reports are not welcomed.
  • Follow-up: Meeting minutes are always distributed. They include the to-do list to remind everyone of assigned action steps.

What’s the benefit?

The obvious benefit to improving the meeting process is to quit wasting time and make the meetings effective. No one looks forward to being stuck in an endless, unproductive meeting every week or two. However, I have a bigger purpose in mind.

The Construction Progress Meeting is the glue that holds an effective system of project controls together, such as the schedule that the contractor produces, the quality control plan that the contractor prepares, and the schedule of values that the contractor submits. The Construction Progress Meeting, if facilitated properly and not left up to the contractor, is at the center of holding everyone accountable and keeping the project on track, all parties responsible and in positive communication through the duration of the project. With eight31consulting, you have an experienced Construction Manager ready, willing and eager to keep your project running smoothly and provide great value and direction to the Construction Progress Meetings process.

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Schedule of Values: Protecting Your Interests by Managing the Payment Process https://www.eight31consulting.com/schedule-values-protecting-interests-managing-payment-process/ https://www.eight31consulting.com/schedule-values-protecting-interests-managing-payment-process/#respond Mon, 10 Oct 2016 14:19:47 +0000 http://www.eight31consulting.com/?p=553 The start-up phase of any major construction project can be chaotic with so much that needs to be done in such a short period of time. Amid all of the planning, meetings, and start-up activities, it’s tough for all parties to ensure that every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed.  In the eagerness to […]

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The start-up phase of any major construction project can be chaotic with so much that needs to be done in such a short period of time. Amid all of the planning, meetings, and start-up activities, it’s tough for all parties to ensure that every “i” is dotted and “t” is crossed.  In the eagerness to get construction started, owners can often be taken advantage of if the party responsible for reviewing and approving the schedule of values doesn’t take the time or have the skillset to review details thoroughly. At that point, the first payment becomes the basis for all subsequent payments, which can leave the project off-base right out the gate. 

You can already see why having a trusted construction expert review and approve the schedule of values is important before a single check is cut to the Contractor. This element of the construction project is the most vital component to tracking the progress of work for payment purposes.

 

Ok, Let’s Back Up – What is a Schedule of Values?

The schedule of values is the basis for calculating the owner’s progress payments to the contractor. When contractors prepare their budget for a project, they allocate the total contract price among various line items or segments of work. This allocation takes the form of a schedule of values, which is presented to the architect for review and approval prior to submitting the first payment application.  Once approved by the architect, it becomes the basis for all of the contractor’s subsequent applications for payment.

The most important step in the payment process that an owner can take to protect their interest is a careful and correct review of the Schedule of Values.

 

So, Why Focus on the Schedule of Values?

Although the schedule of values is designed to be a project controls system, it is often used as a tool by the contractor to improve their cash flow.  Front-end loading is the practice of overstating the values of the work that will be completed early in the project and understating the values of the work that will be completed later in the project.  Once this is set into the schedule of values it has the effect of overpaying the contractor for work it has performed. They can then use the extra cash to fund this project, another project or even their general overhead.  Or in the worst case, it can be used to fund losses in their operations. NOT GOOD.

When front-end loading is cleverly done, it is nearly impossible for the architect to detect.  As a result, architects usually perform a casual review of the contractor’s schedule of values, which allows the practice to occur.

What you need is a construction professional who can review a Schedule of Values at a level that ensures the best interests of the owner are represented.

 

The Difference a Construction Expert Can Make

When performed skillfully, the Schedule of Values review process can set the right tone with the contractor. It shows that the owner and architect are interested in open, honest, and fair communication both ways, and it demonstrates a robust attentiveness on the part of the owner. When owners are highly engaged in the payment process—either on their own or through a construction manager—accountability improves on both sides. Owners avoid overpaying their contractor, but they also have greater assurance that charges are appropriate and fair, which is also good for success of the project.

A good construction expert will:

  • Prevent a distorted schedule of values from being approved.
  • Work with the contractor to produce a highly detailed Schedule of Values that breaks down large amounts into smaller segments of work that can be more easily verified for costs.
  • Review the contractor’s subcontracts, purchase agreements, and quotes to justify amounts listed in the Schedule of Values.
  • Require transparency as to where and how the contractor has allocated overhead, profit, and general conditions costs. Are these costs loaded on the front-end, or are they spread evenly over all the line items?
  • Evaluate the Schedule of Values in conjunction with the construction schedule to ensure payment can be properly measured as the work progresses. 

Other Benefits of an Expert Review of the Schedule of Values

A careful and correct review of the Schedule of Values prior to beginning construction has many benefits:

  • Owners receive assurance that the monthly application for payment they’ll be receiving from contractors are accurate and closely tied to the actual progress of the work. Their financial investment in the project will be less at risk.
  • Architects end up with a tool that will help them make more informed judgments about how much work has really been done. They can then certify the contractor’s monthly application for payment with confidence before they present it to the owner for payment.
  • With control of the payment process, owners have control of the purse strings, which gives them greater leverage when addressing performance issues with the contractor and their subcontractors.
  • Architects end up with an accurate picture of costs for the project that can be used when budgeting future projects. Too many architects rely on past Schedule of Values to predict costs on future projects, never realizing that the Schedule of Values they are using provides bad information.

Performing a thorough and comprehensive Schedule of Values review before the project begins protects the bottom line for the owner and ensures transparency and engagement of all the parties from groundbreaking to final inspection. A construction expert can oversee this process and ensure that everyone’s best interests are represented.

eight31 Consulting provides Construction Management services to Owners and Construction Contract Administration Services to Architects.  If you are embarking on the journey of a major building project, give me a call to discuss a custom solution for you.

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