ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 152 - 03/30/2012

Expert Offers Plan for Minimizing Construction Inefficiency Problems

By Steve Rizer


A slew of steps can be taken to minimize problems associated with inefficiency in construction projects, Trauner Consulting Services Inc. Director Brian Furniss told professionals attending a webinar that WPL Publishing held last week. During the event, entitled “A Case Study: Documenting and Evaluating Inefficiency,” he offered a target audience of contractors, public and private owners, subcontractors, construction managers, owners’ representatives, architects, and others the following advice for addressing inefficiency:

  • “Number one, and most important, make it a standard process to record the work accomplished, along with the labor and equipment hours used to accomplish that work, throughout the project. Whether you’re a contractor, owner, independent consultant, or somebody else, plot the amount of work that’s being performed. [For example,] I laid 33 linear feet of 12-inch RCP [reinforced concrete pipe] on this day. To do that, I had five laborers. Each laborer worked 10 hours per day. We had a half-hour shut-down, and I used equipment ‘X,’ ‘Y,’ and ‘Z.’ At a minimum, plot that information. And it’s also helpful to plot where you were while you were performing that work, but at a minimum, [plot the information about the work performed].
  • “If it wasn’t written down, it didn’t happen, and you’re going to have to go to qualitative assessments. Qualitative assessments, the majority of the time, are less accurate than a very good quantitative assessment.
  • “Be proactive and discuss the issues, and resolve them now. Use your judgment. If you see an issue out on the project, deal with it, be proactive, discuss the issues, resolve them now. It is our recommendation that you don’t put off problems … until after the project’s done and [say], ‘We’ll work it out.’ Typically, that does not work out well for any of the parties, and if it does, it works out very well for one party.
  • “Use the ‘EIC’ [entitlement-impact-cost] process to analyze and discuss efficiency. So, if you’re a general contractor putting together an inefficiency claim, use that same process and address the points in the order, as we’ve demonstrated them, while you’re discussing your claim. By the same token, if you’re an owner, and you’re assessing the contractor’s inefficiency claim, use those same steps to evaluate whether the contractor is entitled to the inefficiency.
  • “Always attempt the measured mile [method of measuring inefficiency]. We frequently see it where somebody says, ‘I couldn’t get a measured mile from it,’ and then we go in and we look at the data, and there is a way to … do a measured mile, and again, the measured mile is pulling the un-impacted and impacted data from the same project, the relevant project we’re talking about. If all the data is not from that same project, then you’re not doing a measured mile, but always attempt a measured mile. Exhaust all resources to do the measured mile.
  • “By the same token, exhaust all means to quantify inefficiency before reverting to a generalized expert opinion or an industry study. If you can quantify it, do it; if you can’t, you’re going to go to qualitative assessment, and there typically are quite a few holes in those things.
  • “Question everything. Test the obvious. If somebody says it’s obvious or it’s an industry standard, it doesn’t hurt you to just take five minutes to check that.”

“The bottom line here is that there are many, many potential sources of inefficiency, and it’s really up to our project team -- the folks in the field -- to keep their noses to the grindstone and their eyes peeled to make sure that they’re alert to the possibility of inefficiency problems because we don’t want to find out about them after it’s too late to do anything about them, and we certainly don’t want to recognize them only after we’ve vastly exceeded our labor cost estimates,” Trauner Principal J. Scott Lowe told webinar attendees.


Lowe outlined the following potential sources of inefficiency: extended periods of overtime; weather; revised means or methods; experience learning (curve) effects; equipment problems; shift work; slow progress; the number, magnitude, and timing of changes; poor management; labor shortages; increased or decreased crew size; site organization or access; and work area restrictions.


To inquire about obtaining the recordings of the webinar, call WPL Publishing at (301) 765-9525.




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