A smooth transition from estimating to production requires purposeful planning.

When I started my commercial general contracting company more than 35 years ago, I acted as both the field superintendent and project manager. After finding a potential customer who needed a project built, I estimated and bid the job, negotiated with the owner, prepared the contract and supervised  the project in the field. Since I was performing all of these roles, it was easy to know what was included in the job, what special concessions were given to the owner, what value-engineering suggestions and alternates were accepted and what promises were made.

As my company grew, turning over projects from sales and estimating to the project team became more difficult. The promises, changes and concessions made during the sales process were rarely documented. This created havoc as the project team tried to deliver what was promised versus what was written in the contract. Typical problems and issues that would occur during construction included specifications not matching owners’ expectations, subcontractors not knowing about promised accelerated schedules, unique jobsite requirements and enhanced construction quality details different from the plans or industry standards. Each of these issues caused conflicts, delays, non-reimbursed change orders, unhappy customers and lost profits.

Stop Wasting Time
When starting a trip, you look at a map to plot the best path to your destination. Building a successful project is no different. When you call subcontractors to schedule their work on a project, often the first two questions their foremen ask the project superintendent are “Where do you want us to start?” and “Do you have a set of plans we can use?” When this happens, it’s obvious the foreman was assigned this project only a few hours ago, hasn’t looked at the plans or contract in advance and doesn’t know what’s required to satisfy the contract. For the next several days, this foreman and crew will wander around getting to know the job, waste several days of crew time and be unable to get on track with their budget or schedule as bid.

What should you do to ensure you will meet your project goals and objectives? After working hard to bid and land a contract, you should take just as much time to develop a plan. Based on my survey of 5,000 contractors, the average construction foreman spends less than 10 minutes a day planning the work for the crew. Ninety-five percent say crew productivity would improve if foremen would take more time planning their jobs. When you don’t plan, jobs take longer and cost more to build.

Prepare for the Project
In order to have your construction projects turned over to the project production team properly, it takes a pre-project planning meeting. Before any project starts, have the salesperson and estimator who worked on the bid or proposal meet with the project team to plan the job. This dedicated turn-over meeting must be mandatory and an integral part of how your company does business as projects are turned over from estimating to the field team.

Also, your foremen and superintendents need time to prepare to build their projects efficiently and effectively. Before every project starts, successful contractors demand their foremen spend time reviewing the estimate and budget to ensure they understand how many crew hours and equipment hours they have to build the project. They must also review or help create their weekly project tracking system to keep them updated during the job.

The planning process may take as little as a few hours or a day for small jobs to as many as three weeks for more complex projects. Regardless, the time invested in planning will be worth many times more than the cost. When your foremen and superintendents hit the job with a proper, well thought-out plan, their projects will finish under budget with happier customers and fewer conflicts. To receive a copy of a sample weekly tracking report, send an email to gh@hardhatpresentations.com.

Meeting Agenda

  • Proposal, bid and estimate
  • Alternates and value-engineering
  • Customer issues and special requirements
  • Contract terms and conditions
  • Plans and specifications
  • Contract documents
  • Special concessions or promises
  • Proposed subcontractors and  suppliers
  • Project schedule and critical dates
  • Project site conditions and  mobilization
  • Payment and cash-flow issues
  • Architecture and engineering issues
  • Constructability issues
  • Safety and quality issues
  • Permits, inspections and approvals

Develop & Create:

  • Project start-up and mobilization plans
  • Project goals and targets
  • Project budget

              o  Crew hours budget
              o  Equipment budget
              o  Budget tracking system

  • Project schedule

              o  Material ordering
              o  Long lead items
              o  Shop drawings and submittals

  • Project production plan
  • Project safety plan
  • Weekly field tracking system