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Survey tracks leading drains on construction productivity

Sources: FMI Corp., Raleigh, N.C.; PlanGrid, San Francisco; CP staff

A survey of nearly 600 construction professionals finds that time spent on non-optimal activities—fixing mistakes, scouting data and managing conflict resolution—accounts for $177.5 billion in labor costs per year, while rework stemming from miscommunication and inaccurate or inaccessible information will cost the U.S. industry $30 billion-plus in 2018.

Management consultant FMI and construction productivity software developer PlanGrid examine how teams spend their time on construction sites, communicate during projects, and leverage technology investments. From survey responses, they determine: 

  • Construction workers lose almost two working days each week solving avoidable issues and searching for project information. Each project team member spends more than 14 hours each week on average dealing with conflict, rework and other issues that take away from higher priorities. 
  • Miscommunication and poor project data account for 48 percent of all rework on U.S construction jobsites. Respondents attributed 26 percent of rework to poor communication between team members. The top three causes of miscommunication are unresponsiveness of team members; project stakeholders’ inability to collaborate effectively; and, lack of a common platform for team members to communicate and share project data. 
  • Workers are not taking full advantage of mobile devices and IT investments. More than 75 percent of survey respondents provide project managers and field supervisors mobile devices. However, less than one-fifth of companies consistently (more than 80 percent of the time) use apps aside from just email, text and phone calls to access project data and collaborate with project stakeholders. This finding suggests many construction leaders are equipping field teams with technology, but not realizing maximum return on their investment by leveraging mobile software and apps purpose-built to help construction companies reach their full potential.
  • Technology is expected to improve data management and increase productivity. Executives are investing in technology for reasons that directly reflect the challenges associated with data integrity and accessibility, plus overall demands for increased productivity. 

"Poor communication among team members, and incorrect or inaccessible information that workers need is costing the construction industry tens of billions of dollars annually," say FMI Technology Practice Lead Jay Snyder. "The majority of industry stakeholders seems to be at a loss for how to remedy these systemic and expensive problems. While construction firms continue to invest in technology, the business-critical issues of communication and data management need more strategic attention than they currently receive."

"Construction companies are investing in mobile devices, but many teams are still relying on simple text and email rather than tapping more robust technology to collaborate and access project information," adds PlanGrid Vice President of Product Marketing Stuart Frederich-Smith. "This proves a significant disconnect between the purchase of construction technology and adoption in the field, and reveals the need for end users to be included the decision making process. Teams that have easy-to-use tools to collaborate in real-time and access to relevant data when they need it will have a greater competitive advantage."

Full survey findings and perspective are provided in a 40-page report, “Construction Disconnected – Rethinking the management of project data and mobile collaboration to reduce costs and improve schedules,” posted here.