Its Just A Matter of Time
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
Once upon a time, I wrote about a project we were awarded in an article titled ‘Not Quite Ready Yet’. That piece was a follow up to piece called 'Project Compaction: Not Just for Soil'. In that article, I had taken part in a pre-construction meeting on February 25th where the contractor asked if we could install flooring on a slab five days after the concrete pour. Needing to understand that one correctly, I said run that by me one more time? Their contract to us had flooring finishes being installed between March 21st and April 12th and as of that call, the concrete slab had not even been placed. Well, time flies and I’m here to provide an update on the project. Officially, we’re done as of Friday July 26th. Which all-in-all, isn’t horrible as that’s only three months and change behind the schedule that was dictated to us.
Numerous times in the last week I was struck by a recurring issue, and one that wraps up my trilogy on this particular project in one of the five boroughs of New York City.
If you ask 100 people what they would like more of in the day, I would guess that a vast majority would answer time. Ask the modern marketer what one of their primary objectives is and most will tell you its to gain peoples time and attention.
All the time we’re being reminded how our time is short and how time is of the essence and within construction, it always seems to be a race against time and before we know it, crunch time. Well, I beg to ask, in a business where time is money, and money is time, how did we get to a point where we seemingly no longer respect someone else’s time?
So, on this project that we just wrapped, we were informed that there were site inspections scheduled for Monday on Friday the 19th. Now in a borough of 1.5 million people, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that our customer, the General Contractor, had to schedule this inspection at least a few weeks in advance, if not a month or more. So, how is it we were told that we wouldn’t be able to work Monday, (which then turned into Tuesday as well) on a Friday afternoon?
If you want to know my answer, its because they knew that if we were informed earlier that we would schedule work to be performed elsewhere, and we wouldn’t be at their disposal for return when they needed us for urgent completion. We returned on Wednesday and were then informed on Thursday morning that they had another inspection for that afternoon and asked us to leave the jobsite!
Now, let me remind you that this same contractor was notified weeks in advance that our original window to commence their installation was on June 12th and they couldn’t make time to inform us even days before that not only would they not be ready for the 12th, but they most likely would be a few more weeks.
Perhaps I’m old-time, but if I’m on the road and looking to stop by for a quick meeting, I always inquire up front if it’s a good time or a bad time. If I’m going to be five minutes late to a meeting, I call ahead of time. If I’m running twenty minutes past our allotted face time, I inquire if that is okay or if they’re pressed for time.
As for project installations, we’re going to continue to be transparent about how we’re unable to get to a jobsite for six weeks due to previously scheduled work. For if we are not, we’ll have a devil of a time stating our case after the fact.
Within construction, we’re all pressed for time. Our attention is pulled in five different places every day of the week. We need to do a better job of respecting our most valuable asset: time. Both our own, and others.
If you get the time, please comment below, whether you agree or disagree. It’s time for me to hit the road.
7/30/2019 11:21:05 am
100% agree and the fix is NOT 'technology' I can't say how many large GC's I deal with who have MSFT Project or other 'scheduling' program. They are never correct. Ever heard the axiom a good tool does you no good in the tool box? Well I've taken that to project scheduling. If a project has a scheduling program and they send out COMPLEX and detailed schedules early on all I have to do is call 6months before turnover and see if the schedule = progress. "so I read the roof went on last week" "ha ha no way man we are still pouring concrete" that one conversation tells me I can't rely on the Tech. It might work on large Hospital sized projects but for things 'my size' it just does not. Honestly I am starting to think it is an honesty thing. Project teams that set unrealistic goals have to be honest with themselves or the subcontractors will send them to the bottom of the pile.
7/30/2019 12:12:46 pm
Also we all know the industry has a labor issue. Unrealistic schedules affects our labor and ability to keep and train good people. When a crew is lined up for work in say 1 week and then they get called off, it isn't like a sub can just 'create' more work for them. So, they end up without hours. If I'm a working guy I can't afford that. So keep to realistic schedules so we can get crews activated, employed and therefore make the industry more desirable to attract talent.
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