How to avoid the dreaded F word in construction

Construction manager having problems at work in office construction working with computer and sketches on a construction project.

No, not that F word. We’re not being potty mouths. We’re talking about Failure with a capital F.

Dun. Dun. Dun!

We bet the thought of that alone makes you want to say another F word. No worries. Wipe your brow and slow your breath. Let’s first talk about something a little more soothing – Success with a capital S.

Success in the construction industry means completing projects on time and on budget. The client is happy, and so are you because you’re walking away with a tidy profit. When projects are successful, everybody wins.

However, we can’t all be winners all the time.

More often than not, problems start out small. It’s an oopsie in data entry or a simple error in communication. Unseen and not caught early, these mistakes can become your blind spot, eventually avalanching into projects that go over budget and over deadline. Whatever the case, your business’s profits and reputation both take a big hit.

Graph showing reasons for cost overrun in construction projects worldwide.

Reasons for cost overrun in construction projects worldwide.

So, how then do you ensure failure is not an option? It starts by recognizing the real reasons projects typically fail:

1. Failure to plan carefully and in detail

Pop quiz! What’s the most important stage in the construction process? If you didn’t answer “planning”, then you failed. Uh oh. That’s what we’re trying to avoid here.

No need to wear the dunce cap yet, though. If you assume experience gets you out of proper planning or that every project is the same so what worked for one will always deliver the same results, then *ahem* here’s that dunce cap.

Unfortunately, neither of those are true. And because you’re a pro who takes the time to study up and read articles like this one, chances are you knew that already. Go, smarty pants, go!

That’s right, all projects require careful and comprehensive planning. Before anything starts, you should lay out all goals you and other stakeholders want to accomplish. From here, make sure your objectives are aligned. This is also the perfect time to present cost estimates, target deliveries, schedules and resources and manpower required.

It’s always best to map out a crystal-clear plan as you work toward your goal. Yes, it’s time consuming. Yes, it’s an extra step. Yes, the effort you invest will all be worth it.

2. Inability to identify and assess risks

There’s risk in everything, but construction risk is at another level. Think of all the teams involved. Think of a client’s everchanging mind. Think of the capital invested.

That’s the problem right there. Some contractors don’t stop to think. A company’s inability to identify risks, prioritize and manage them is a big contributor to failure. Now here’s where our first point becomes important again. Proper planning can pinpoint problems early and allow time to adequately address them.

3. Poor management and communication

Poor communication = poor project performance. It’s really that simple.

Without proper leadership and communication, Murphey’s Law takes hold. What can go wrong, will go wrong. Teams not collaborating. Productivity and efficiency taking a nosedive. Bottlenecks and errors popping up anywhere and everywhere. In fact, research by the Project Management Institute (PMI) reveals that poor communication is the main reason projects fail one-third of the time, and that it’s a contributing factor to project failure more than half the time.

Sounds scary, right? It doesn’t have to be.

It’s all about having the right tools in place, like a good construction management platform, that allows management to get a big picture overview of projects while also improving communication. This will give you and your teams a better opportunity to catch potential mistakes before they escalate. Yep, let the software do the communicating for you!

4. Lack of accessibility and transparency

Transparency does more than just build trust. It keeps employees in the know on everything they need to know. Unfortunately, bottlenecks are often caused by team members who don’t have access to relevant information. Then decisions are delayed, then changes that need to be made aren’t, then details are miscommunicated, then a project fails. It’s a slippery slope.

And once a project fails, the inevitable finger pointing follows – where did it go wrong? At what point in our process should you have done this or you that? Somehow, we’re guessing that’s not going to boost team morale.

Fortunately, we’ve got just the solution. A construction management platform can help here as well, offering instant access to critical data and documentation at the speed of need. Additionally, all decisions and changes are tracked like breadcrumbs. As you complete a project, you’ll be able to see who did what and when. With that level of increased transparency, you can give credit where credit is due. And look at that … suddenly team morale has never looked better!

Stop failure in its tracks

Just because a project is running smoothly doesn’t mean you can ignore early warning signs. It’s possible (and probable) issues are brewing just under the surface. When you leave these concerns on the back burner, you’ll end up getting burned as these problems flame out from small to big to huge.

The right technology can act as your guard, easily identifying possible red flags and addressing issues before they become problematic. That’s not all. This guard is busy. A construction management platform can offer better visibility into job site activity, track employee productivity, provide access to critical data and deliver timely reports. Phew. Talk about all in a day’s work.

With one centralized platform managing all your projects, communication and collaboration between team members spike as well. More importantly, construction management software gives you greater visibility into every aspect of your project – from labor to operations, paperwork and documentation, budgets and resources.

The right data supported by the right tools just naturally leads to more things going … well, right. If you want to know how our construction management software can help your business, reach out to us today. Investing in Buildertrend truly moves any business away from failure towards flawless.

There’s one F word we can all appreciate.

About The Author

Sean Robinson

Sean Robinson Sean Robinson is a senior content marketing specialist at Buildertrend

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