For most construction companies, improving operational efficiency is a constant goal. In our industry, profitability depends significantly on a business’s understanding and application of its resources.
What is construction efficiency?
Construction efficiency–also referred to as “operational efficiency”–is a company’s ability to deliver products or services in the most cost-effective manner without sacrificing quality of work.
Construction companies with a high level of efficiency better utilize their resources, including their workforces, and generally experience a higher level of growth.
In contrast, a low level of efficiency leads to wasted time and lost profits.
Construction efficiency is a company’s ability to deliver services in the most cost-effective manner without sacrificing quality of work.
There are many different kinds of inefficiencies in construction. For example, productivity may suffer from complicated or redundant processes, a lack of internal structure, or poor communications practices.
How to improve operational efficiency in construction
Improving construction efficiency is not an easy task.
These six strategies can help you identify pain points and streamline the way you work.
1. Collect data
The first step to improving construction efficiency is critical assessment. Take time to review your current operations and make a list of potential issues.
To do so, you’ll need to collect field data. Use reports from current and past projects to see where and why problems occurred. Take note of common causes for change orders, rework, or disputes.
If you haven’t been collecting detailed, accurate data, it’s time to start. Consider investing in production tracking software to replace outdated pen and paper methods and conduct surveys for employee feedback.
Identifying specific areas for improvement will help you focus on the efficiency changes that will make the most difference.
2. Enhance project plans
The planning stage of a construction project is crucial to the project’s success. Make sure you spend adequate time drafting project plans and include a great level of detail.
A plan should extensively outline labor, expenses, and materials required for the project, which you can use historical data to accurately estimate. It should list all tasks including the amount of time it will take to complete them.
Providing specific guidelines sets employee expectations and helps them hold themselves accountable for completing work on schedule and within budget.
If plans are too vague, they’re easy to misinterpret. Spending more time on plans at the start of a project prevents miscommunications or confusion that lead to greater delays down the road.
3. Centralize data
When employees need information to complete a task, do they know where to find it?
Construction companies can improve efficiency by storing all documentation in a centralized construction document management system. Instead of searching physical file cabinets or various individual programs, employees should be able to access any information related to their jobs in a single convenient location.
Reports, policy documents, safety procedures, and other valuable information can be organized using a standardized method and quickly located for review as needed.
Many modern document management systems work through cloud storage. When stored on the cloud, documents are available to all employees as soon as they’re uploaded, and managers can be sure everyone has access to the latest versions.
4. Streamline communications
Miscommunications and misinformation are two of the most common causes of construction disputes. Streamlining communications improves operational efficiency and helps construction companies avoid costly mistakes.
Due to differing communication styles and preferences, even small companies have difficulty connecting with all employees, and for larger companies it’s even more of a challenge. Communication technology built specifically for the construction industry, like Raken’s digital reporting app, can help.
These tools help construction companies keep all project-related communications together and provide specific guidelines for how employees are expected to share information. For example, Raken provides daily report templates that can be completed and shared instantly with the click of a button and also features an in-app messaging system managers can use to tag specific employees and separate notifications by project.
Streamlining communications improves operational efficiency and helps construction companies avoid costly mistakes.
Whether it’s daily reports, weather updates, safety alerts, or any other kind of messaging, it’s much more likely to reach employees when it comes from a single, consistent source they are already using on the jobsite.
5. Monitor progress
As you make improvements, you should continue to monitor progress. Keep reviewing current project reports and comparing them to historical data to measure how any changes you’ve made have affected productivity.
Improving operational efficiency in construction can be a slow process. It takes time for teams to adapt to changes and fully adopt any new procedures or technology you introduce. Establish a timeline for new strategies and review their effectiveness periodically, allowing at least a few months to measure their full effects.
After the deadline, if you don’t see any increase in efficiency, try to determine the reason. Ask for employee feedback and see if there are any additional tools or training they need to be able to carry out the strategy effectively.
6. Use mobile technology
If you’re still using pen and paper for any critical processes, you’re not working as efficiently as possible.
Digital tools for daily reporting, time tracking, and other data-heavy tasks save time and reduce errors over handwritten methods and even spreadsheets. With mobile data capture, your field crews will be able to collect better data faster from the field, and office teams can gain valuable insights without manual work.
Using traditional methods, project managers often spend hours hunting down reports, which are difficult for field contractors to complete efficiently at the end of each busy workday. Then, they have to combine reports from multiple sources and organize the information in a way that can be shared with stakeholders.
With software like Raken, time-consuming tasks are automated. Reports are standardized and can be completed, combined, and analyzed quickly.
Increase your construction efficiency with Raken
Raken’s digital construction management tools give construction companies timely, accurate insights about how they work. Thousands of contractors use our construction app to identify inefficiencies and gain a better understanding of their capabilities.
As you apply these strategies for improving construction efficiency, Raken can help you track progress and communicate effectively across your entire organization.
Connect with our sales team to learn more.