Tips for Managing Crews Over Several Jobs
By Kim Slowey
Business is booming, and your company is taking on more projects. That’s good news, but without proper management and scheduling, you could find yourself quickly losing control. Here are some tips to keep everything in place.
Plan for a glut of work before the influx begins. First, take stock of your employees, tools, equipment, go-to subcontractors and reliable material suppliers.
Next, find a reliable scheduling tool. Apologies to the pen-and-paper and DIY spreadsheet crowds, but any construction manager who has some serious scheduling in his or future needs something much more speedy and responsive. While no software can make the big decisions for you, they do allow you to execute a change across projects much faster than any other method.
In the Field
Keep these best practices in mind as you move between each job:
- Track Tools – If you don’t have a tool tracking procedure already, start one. By recording who has a tool and where they’re working, you can hunt down the tool you need no matter where it is. Not only is this a solid inventory practice that keeps tools and equipment like nail guns, scaffolding and mixers organized and readily available, but it will help keep them from growing legs and walking off. Some companies also have a tool runner who makes sure the right tool is on the right job at all times. It might be a worthwhile expense to explore electronic and GPS-based tracking systems as well, or stock up on duplicates of tools you always seem to be in need of.
- Watch the Weather – If one of your projects includes outdoor work, the possibility of inclement weather should be on your radar constantly. Extreme cold or precipitation could mean you can’t work at one job, but it could be your chance to catch up on indoor work at another site.
- Keep an Eye on Deliveries – Make sure material deliveries are scheduled and confirmed before sending a crew to the job. Late or no-show deliveries are one of the biggest time-wasters of manpower, and those valuable labor resources could be utilized elsewhere.
- Supplement When Necessary – It’s possible that there just won’t be enough crewmembers to meet the needs of so much work. Maintain a deep trade bench by keeping in contact with reliable skilled workers and independent contractors.
- Monitor Progress – Have one or more field superintendents circulating among the projects to keep tabs on the day-to-day progress. This should be a primary source of schedule changes throughout the life of the job.
Communication Is Key
Don’t keep workers and foremen in the dark about the possibility of having to pick up on short notice and move to a different project site. Keep everyone aware of any scheduling changes as soon as you know about them. This not only gets them mentally prepared for their next job but also stops the rumor mill before it begins. Use these tips to help your company juggle multiple jobs at once without compromising productivity or quality.
Kim Slowey is a freelance writer based in Florida. She has a degree in journalism but spent over 25 years in the construction industry and is still a Florida certified general contractor. Kim currently covers commercial and residential construction and real estate for publications such as Construction Dive and Forbes. Kim Slowey also writes for The Home Depot, which carries a wide selection of nailers and other tools essential for your worksite.