By Kevin Bartley, Division Manager with Nexus 5 Group
This topic is somewhat taboo to speak about. And it’s something I know needs more time and effort than a short blog post. The door swings both ways when it comes to how this is viewed depending on if you’re the General Contractor or Subcontractor. (I’m sure if a Construction Project Manager was writing this, there would be a different spin.)
For the purpose of this story, I’m not here to take sides but to provide an overall view of a perfect world scenario when it comes to job site coordination. (I will attempt to take off my Subcontractor hat for the next hour as I write this.)
The number one impact of poor job site coordination is money.
Whether the impact comes in labor hours, extended schedules, or material, it all boils down to the money. The importance of having good coordination practices really impacts all parties involved from the top to the bottom. Communication is the number one factor for making things run smoothly. (Being able to talk through things instead of throwing a schedule out in an email.)
This topic could be a 45-minute read, but I’m trying to condense it down to just a few…
The General Contractor should always communicate with Subcontractors on the time frame to complete their scope of work.
Coordination between the General Contractor and Sub should always include discussions about any long lead times on material or equipment.
The General Contractor should NEVER revise a project schedule and fail to distribute the newest version to the entire project team.
Never distribute a schedule before contracts are signed and the project is ready to mobilize.
There should always be a contingency plan if schedules should fall behind.
Always include scheduled day changes in change orders and communicate those to all parties involved… from Subcontractors all the way up to ownership.
Best practice is to always use the project schedule to estimate General Conditions.
There are Best Practices generally understood in the Construction Industry.
Keep in mind that many owners or project teams you may be working with might not understand the same set of Best Practices. Keeping the process simple is perfectly fine in most cases. This allows expectations to be set on the front end of a job (and less disappointment will be felt by others involved.)
Every project has limiting factors. Always consider the constraints and logistics of the actual job site.
Here's an example. I remember a job that we recently quoted that was on the 5th floor of a building that didn’t have a freight elevator. This was by far one of the biggest limiting factors impacting the project schedule. When anyone has to move mountains of material by hand up many flights of stairs, there will be both labor and schedule impacts.
Another example would be If you have three skids of drywall delivered before the electricians, plumbers, and mechanical people finish up. There’s a good chance you’ll be moving things again. It ends up being a cascade of delays that slow down the various teams. This impact is felt directly by those Subs because of slowed productivity (ultimately costing everyone involved money.)
There are a million examples that I could come up with, but it really boils down to this one word… Communication.
I will say that sometimes things may be a little easier for me as a Subcontractor working directly with our Construction Division. Having all of us together under one roof does allow for better communication. I’m not saying it’s perfect, because we still have our fair share of disagreements and conversations. But when you work closely with the General Contractor and form relationships with all parties involved, things do run more smoothly.
Here at Nexus 5 Group, we tend to work with the same Subcontractors on many of our jobs. This allows us to communicate even more efficiently because of existing relationships and shared experience. Sometimes when an electrician gets in our way, it’s much easier to have a candid conversation on the front end (which means we are working out the problem on the front end.) This is an advantage for Nexus 5 Group and all our Subcontractors.
Construction Projects are like Marriages. They often succeed or fail based on communication.