In the fast-paced world of construction, time is of the essence. Every minute counts, and delays can have costly consequences. Maximising efficiency on construction workflows is crucial to meeting deadlines and staying within budget. Construction workflows are a crucial part of the construction process, helping to improve project efficiency and optimisation, reduce costs, and improve quality.
Workflow management is an important part of the construction industry as it helps in standardising processes across projects, thereby contributing to overall process efficiency and optimisation. It helps to ensure that all stakeholders have the right information at the right time and facilitates effective communication between them.
Workflow management helps in identifying and eliminating bottlenecks in the workflow, thereby improving overall productivity. It can also help in ensuring that the team is completing tasks on time, thus reducing project delays.
In this blog article, we’ll explore time-saving tips and tricks to streamline your construction workflows and help you get the most out of your resources. From optimising communication to simplifying project management, we’ll cover everything you need to know to take your construction workflows to the next level.
What is a construction workflow?
A construction site workflow is a series of steps that need to be completed for a project to move forward. A construction site workflow can be set up for each stage of a project, and it will help manage what needs to happen next. It involves the coordination of different teams, resources, and materials to carry out various activities, such as site preparation, excavation, foundation work, framing, electrical and plumbing work, roofing, and finishing. The workflow also includes the management of communication, scheduling, budgeting, quality control, and safety. The goal of construction site workflows is to optimise the use of resources, minimise waste, and ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards.
Clear construction workflows enable successful construction project management by providing clear direction on what needs to be done at every step along the way. Site workflows also help improve communication between all parties involved in any given project, so that everyone knows what’s expected from them at any given time (and why).
Workflows are particularly important in the construction industry, where projects are often large and complex. Construction workflows can help streamline the process of managing a project, which can make it easier for teams to align themselves with each other and plan their tasks effectively.
Why focus on construction workflows?
Construction workflows are the critical elements in improving construction project outcomes. When teams focus on improving workflows, they can:
- Reduce inefficiencies, streamline processes, and get better quality outcomes by standardising them.
- Reduce cost and time through improved efficiency of people, materials, and equipment.
- Improve the quality of the outputs by creating a more consistent process.
- Improve project outcomes by reducing rework, project delays, and wasted time.
- Top reasons for construction workflow failure
There are a range of factors that can potentially cause challenges or failures for construction site workflows, including:
- Poor planning: Inadequate planning or unclear communication can lead to delays, rework, and cost overruns.
- Miscommunication: Misunderstandings or miscommunications between different teams, contractors, and suppliers can cause delays, errors, and rework.
- Inefficient use of resources: Inefficient allocation and utilisation of resources such as materials, equipment, and labour can lead to delays, wastage, and higher costs.
- Safety issues: Failure to adhere to safety protocols and regulations can result in accidents, injuries, and delays.
- Changes in scope: Changes in the project scope or design can disrupt the workflow and lead to delays and rework.
- Weather conditions: Adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, and extreme temperatures can affect the progress of construction work and cause delays.
- External factors: External factors such as permit delays, regulatory changes, and supply chain disruptions can also cause challenges for construction site workflows.
Important features of successful construction workflows
While successful construction site workflows have a lot in common, following are some of the key traits:
- Standardisation: A standardised workflow is one in which everyone involved understands the steps and their roles. This can be achieved through documentation, training, and communication.
- Collaborative: A collaborative workflow allows for multiple people to work on a project at once without stepping on each other’s toes or clashing with each other’s workflows.
- Integration: Integrating construction workflows will help get more done faster by making sure all relevant information is available in one place at any given time.
- Automation: Automation is the process of using software and hardware to complete tasks automatically, without human intervention. This will enable improved productivity and increase process adherence while reducing costs.
Key construction workflows and how to get them right
In construction, while there are a number of processes, following are the key ones due to the role they play in impacting construction project outcomes.
- Team, subcontractor, and quality assurance management
- Project Planning & Scheduling
- Site task management
Preconstruction planning is the process of defining and documenting the scope, budget, schedule, and resources needed to complete a project. Preconstruction planning is the first phase of construction and involves defining the scope, budget, and schedule for a project.
How do poor preconstruction workflows affect construction projects?
- It may lead to false assumptions about what can be achieved with available resources
- Poor communication between stakeholders can cause delays in decision-making processes which lead to frustrated stakeholders who are less likely to cooperate
- Poorly documented plans mean that there is no clear direction for anyone involved in carrying out tasks or implementing solutions.
- Poorly documented plans can lead to errors that cause delays in project completion, higher costs, and lower quality outcomes.
- Poorly planned projects are less likely to achieve desired outcomes because they don’t meet the requirements of stakeholders
Poor planning can lead to project failure. This means that the project doesn’t achieve the desired outcomes because it doesn’t meet the requirements of stakeholders and there are consequences for failing to do so.
How to improve pre-construction workflow?
The first step is to understand how the current processes work and identify which parts could be improved upon. The goal should be to make sure that the entire project plan is clear, concise, and easy for everyone involved in the process to understand. A good project manager always includes contingency plans for any possible problem that could arise during construction. This includes backups for materials and equipment as well as extra labour available to help with unexpected work orders. The more complete and accurate the project plan is, the easier it will be for everyone involved in the process to understand what needs to be done and how long it will take to complete each task.
Team, subcontractor, and quality assurance management
Team and subcontractor management workflow is important in construction projects because it allows for:
- A clear, transparent line of communication between the project manager and the members of their team.
- A way to keep track of all the details needed to complete a project.
- The ability to work within an established framework ensures that everyone has a clear idea of what they need to do when they should be doing it, and how they should be doing it.
Managing subcontractors effectively means making sure that they are getting paid on time and that their work is up to par. This also means giving them clear instructions on how they should complete tasks and what they need to do if there are any changes in plans or timelines (which can happen quite often).
Managing the team means assigning tasks to people in a way that allows them to do their best work while also giving them enough autonomy over their responsibilities so that they feel like they’re contributing meaningfully towards the project’s success.
Quality assurance (QA) workflow is one of the most critical parts of the construction process. It ensures that a building or other project is built according to specifications, and it helps prevent problems before they occur.
There are several steps in the QA workflow:
- The first step is to create a quality assurance plan for the project. This plan should include a list of all tasks that need to be done, who will do them, and when they will be done.
- Managers perform inspections throughout the construction process to make sure that everything is being built according to specifications and according to schedule.
- After completing each inspection successfully then managers can move on toward completing their next inspection according to a pre-planned schedule.
Project planning and scheduling
The project planning and scheduling workflow is essential to any construction project. It’s the process by which one can ensure that all team members have access to the right information at the right time, so they can do their jobs effectively.
This can be a seriously complex process, especially when there are a lot of moving parts. Here are some tips for creating an efficient project-planning and scheduling workflow:
- Start with a clear understanding of what the project entails, including all relevant information and requirements.
Determine which tasks need to be done and when they should be finished by.
- Decide who will do each task and how much time they should spend on it. This includes how long the whole project will take in total as well.
- Keep track of where everyone is at about this schedule throughout every phase of the project so no one falls behind or forgets important steps.
- If there is a need to add or remove tasks from the schedule, make sure to update it accordingly so everyone knows what they need to be working on.
Site task management
Site task management is a big part of any construction workflow. It’s also one of the most frequently mismanaged aspects of a workflow because there are so many ways to go wrong with it. If managers don’t have a clear vision for what needs to be done onsite at each step in the process, or if the team doesn’t know how or when they should be doing things like ordering materials or making payments, teams will lose out on opportunities for efficiency gains that could save thousands over time (and potentially millions).
To make sure site task management doesn’t get off track again:
- Set clear expectations for what needs to be done at each step in the workflow.
- Break down each task into its parts and assign them to the people who can do them best.
- Make sure everyone knows how to execute their tasks in a timely, efficient manner.
- Keep the team accountable for the tasks they’ve been assigned and make sure they’re doing them on time.
- Don’t leave things up to chance. Make sure that managers are tracking the progress and making adjustments as needed.
In conclusion, maximising efficiency on construction workflows is crucial to achieving project success. By implementing time-saving tips and tricks, you can streamline your workflows, minimise waste, and complete projects on time and within budget. From optimising communication to simplifying project management, there are many ways to enhance your construction workflows and boost productivity. By identifying and addressing challenges, you can minimise delays, reduce rework, and maximise the value of your resources. By taking the time to improve your construction workflows, you can ensure that you are delivering high-quality projects that meet the needs of your clients and stakeholders.
While poor collaboration, project management, change management, and accountability can contribute to workflow failure, standardisation, integration, and automation are some of the important traits of successful construction workflows.
The key takeaway from this article is that construction teams should be tracking their workflows and identify ways to improve them. We also discussed key workflows related to pre-construction, team and subcontractor management, quality assurance, project planning, and site task management, the challenges managers face in orchestrating these workflows, and ways we can optimise these workflows to improve overall construction project outcomes.