Posts Tagged ‘construction superintendent’

Top 10 Tasks for Construction Superintendents

September 8, 2010
Stumbled upon this on the state of Washington Workforce Explorer site.  In reviewing this list, it occurred to me that jobsite photos and video should play a critical role in supporting most of these tasks. I have added comments next to each task (where appropriate) to specify the role that visual media can(should) play in performing the task.

If you’re not using photos in this manner, you should ask yourself why not.

Top 10 Tasks

  • Examine and inspect work progress, equipment, and construction sites to verify safety and to ensure that specifications are met. – Photos used to record progress and report conditions.
  • Read specifications such as blueprints to determine construction requirements and to plan procedures.
  • Estimate material and worker requirements to complete jobs. – Photo archives can provide visual references for similar jobs from the past.
  • Supervise, coordinate, and schedule the activities of construction or extractive workers. – Photos serve as a reference to confirm access, availability of materials and equipment.
  • Confer with managerial and technical personnel, other departments, and contractors in order to resolve problems and to coordinate activities. – Photos augment written and verbal communication and provide confirmation of resolution.
  • Coordinate work activities with other construction project activities. – As mentioned above, photos provide information on current site conditions.
  • Order or requisition materials and supplies. – Webcams and photos confirm receipt of materials, preventing over-ordering.
  • Locate, measure, and mark site locations and placement of structures and equipment, using measuring and marking equipment. – Photos used to augment measurements and markings.
  • Record information such as personnel, production, and operational data on specified forms and reports. – Photos augment written records and allow for forensic research of conditions not properly recorded.
  • Assign work to employees, based on material and worker requirements of specific jobs.

Social Media for Recognition and Retention – Part 1

March 27, 2009

One of the attendees at my social media presentation to the local Associated Builders and Contractors board mentioned that he felt that there were many wasted opportunities to share stories about the great work his crew did.  He went on to say that his superintendents problem solving abilities were a real competitive advantage, but he found it difficult to convey that to current and potential customers.

I thought social media would be a great mechanism for sharing such stories.  The company benefits in a couple of ways. First, as the gentleman above suspected, these stories make great marketing copy. They create an opportunity for current customers to emotionally invest in the work of their contractor and paint an enticing picture for prospective clients.

However, I think efforts to recognize your crews’ success on the web will pay bigger dividends for the morale of the crews themselves. Think about it. If you see yourself mentioned in the company’s print newsletter, you might take it home to share with your spouse. However, if your mentioned in a blog post, with a link to the recognition page on the company website, then you’re likely to share that with all of your friends and family by email. Chances are that more than a few of those folks are in construction too, which means that your recognition effort can have recruiting benefits too.

See part 2 of this post for a 7-step approach for promoting the work of your crews.

Billy’s Journey

February 16, 2009

A recent conversation with a quality manager from a major general contractor brought this cartoon immediately to mind.  You see, this poor chap was under the delusion that he could simply walk from his desk to a condo unit to check the fit of the refrigerator and then walk back.  The time required to complete his journey: 2 hours!

family-circus-billy-pathAt every turn, the quality manager was beckoned by a information-starved  sub contractor with a question.  Each question began innocently enough.  “Got a minute?” they would ask.  But after a dozen or so of these, his 10 minute walk turned into a 2 hour journey.

My take on Billy’s journey:

  1. Ground-level direction leaves a lot to be desired.
  2. Tradespeople want to do a good job for their clients, but don’t always have sufficient information to do so.
  3. If chance encounters with roaming managers are how trade questions get answered, then I bet a fair number of trade questions go un-answered.

Project quality suffers in all cases.

13 “What if” questions for General Contractors to Ponder

December 15, 2008

What if?

  1. What if you were a General Contractor?
  2. What if you radically changed your approach to construction quality?
  3. What if you had a quality system that applied universally to all of your jobs instead of individually to each project?
  4. What if you could improve the performance of the “C” and the “D” project teams so that they performed more like the “B” team?
  5. What if you had the ability to monitor and investigate ongoing work for any of your jobs from any computer anywhere in the world?
  6. What if you had a library images and supporting data covering every critical installation your crews built over the years?
  7. What if you provided your clients with daily progress reports complete with easy-to-use dashboards and images from the jobsite?
  8. What if you could identify defects from you sub contractors within 24 – 48 hours from the time they occurred?
  9. What if you could immediately share defect-related information with your subs so that they could complete repairs while their crews were still on site?
  10. What if you could manage all of your defects so that you had complete traceability from detection through repair and acceptance?
  11. What if you could easily assign responsibility for trade damage with photographic evidence?
  12. What if at the end of every project you could turn over a complete database to your clients that chronicled the complete construction history of their building?
  13. What if? Such a system were available?

What if?

The Lynch-Pin of Construction Quality

November 21, 2008

When I ask most general contractors about their systems for quality control, the answers vary but they do have one thing in common; the role of the superintendent (or quality manager.)  In all of these cases, contractors rely on the experience and the judgment of this “super” individual to detect defects and manage their correction . This, of course, explains why a good superintendent is worth his weight in gold.

However, placing this responsibility on the shoulders of one person has its risks:

  • A person’s performance can vary from project to project.
  • The strengths of an individual do not extend beyond the domain of the project he is assigned to.
  • A single Super cannot be an expert in every single construction division, leaving many subcontractors to police themselves.
  • Finally, people can only make incremental gains in their experience and will eventually reach some upper limit.

How then can a General Contractor extend the proficiency of their quality systems beyond the expertise of their superintendents?  Stay tuned for Geedra