Report: Time Spent on Non-Optimal Activities Costs the Construction Industry Billions Annually

The U.S. will spend approximately $177.5 billion in labor costs on non-optimal activities in 2018, according to a recently released report from construction productivity software company PlanGrid. The report asked survey respondents about how construction companies spend time on the jobsite, communicate during projects and leverage technological investments. The “Construction Disconnected 2018 Industry Report” was conducted alongside management consulting firm FMI Corporation.

Off the 599 total survey participants, 500 were from the U.S. and 99 were from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada. Forty-nine percent of companies surveyed were general contractors, 36 percent were specialty contractors and 15 percent were owners/developers.

Time Spent

According to the report, construction professionals spend 35 percent of their time on non-optimal activities. On average, respondents spend 5.5 hours per week looking for product data and information. They spend 4.7 hours per week on conflict resolution and 3.9 hours per week dealing with mistakes and rework. That equals 14-plus total hours lost per person each week that could have been spent on priority activities.

Construction professionals reported spending 65 percent of their time on optimal activities. Respondents spend 11.2 hours per week on project execution and coordination, 8.2 hours per week on communicating/interacting with project stakeholders and seven hours per week on organizing the jobsite.

According to report, on average, 52 percent of all rework globally is caused by poor data and miscommunication. $65 billion of total U.S. construction spending will go toward rework by the end of this year. Of that cost, $31.3 billion will be caused by poor data and miscommunication in 2018.

“I would not be surprised if as much as half of the rework we experience is because of poor communication. There’s a lot of moving parts. It only takes one person to miss something or not tell someone what they did or where they put something to cause a problem,” said a senior project manager for a general contractor in response to the survey.

Approximately $2.4 million is wasted per firm annually from time spent on non-optimal activities.

Causes

The most common selected reason for spending more time than expected on a task was poor communication among project stakeholders. That was followed by lack of responsiveness of data and information delivery, confidence in the accuracy of the available data and information, difficulty gathering needed data and inability to collaborate effectively.

In regard to the top cause of poor communication among project stakeholders, 40 percent of respondents chose unresponsiveness to questions and requests, while 24 percent chose the inability of project stakeholders to collaborate effectively.

Thirty-four percent of respondents said that erroneous or incorrect project data was the top cause of poor project data and information, while 24 percent chose difficulty accessing needed project data.

Technology

Investing in field technology can drive down the loss in productivity. According to the report, 71 percent of owners indicate that capturing and retaining more data during design, construction and closeout will reduce or significantly reduce lifecycle operations costs.

The top three reasons for investing in field technology are better access to project data and information, improving project productivity and improving accuracy of project data and information.

Seventy-five percent of general contractors and subcontractors provide mobile devices to project managers and field supervisions. However, only 18 percent use apps on a mobile device consistently to access project data and collaborate.

Some of the reasons technology fails is because it is a poor fit with current processes and procedures, it’s difficult to use, low adoption, inadequate training and it doesn’t integrate well with existing software and technology.

The full report is available here.

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