Construction workers lose almost two full working days each week solving avoidable issues and searching for project information, according to a survey administered by PlanGrid, a construction software company, and management consulting firm FMI Corp.
The research report is based on input from nearly 600 construction leaders about how teams spend their time on construction sites, communicate during projects, and leverage their technology investments. The survey indicates that time spent on non-optimal activities, such as fixing mistakes, looking for project data, and managing conflict resolution accounts for $177.5 billion in labor costs per year in the United States. The study also found that rework caused by miscommunication, and inaccurate and inaccessible information will cost the U.S. construction industry more than $31 billion in 2018.
According to the survey, each construction project team member spends more than 14 hours each week on average dealing with conflict, rework and other issues that take away from higher priority activities. Respondents revealed they spend the following amount of time each week on non-optimal activities:
- 5.5 hours hunting down project data, such as revised drawings, material cut sheets and other information relevant to the job.
- Almost five hours on conflict resolution, including managing disagreements between stakeholders such as the general contractor, owners, and subcontractors responsible for the delivery of the project.
- Four hours dealing with rework-related activities, such as managing the mistakes on a project that result in rework, assessing the associated costs and determining why the mistakes happened.
“Poor communication among team members, and incorrect or inaccessible information that workers need to do their job is costing the construction industry tens of billions of dollars annually,” said Jay Snyder, FMI technology practice lead. “The majority of industry stakeholders seem 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.”
On the subject of communication, the report concludes miscommunication and poor project data account for 48 percent of all rework on U.S construction jobsites. Respondents pointed to erroneous or incorrect project data, difficulty accessing project data, and the inability of project stakeholders to easily share information about the project as instances of poor project information.
The report also found workers are not taking full advantage of mobile devices and IT investments. More than 75 percent of respondents provide mobile devices—smartphones or tablets—to their project managers and field supervisors. However, less than one-fifth of companies consistently use apps other than email, text, and phone calls to access project data and collaborate with project stakeholders.
“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,” said Stuart Frederich-Smith, vice-president of product marketing at PlanGrid.
Download the full “Construction Disconnected” report here.
Participants in the PlanGrid/FMI study included 599 construction industry leaders. The sample was composed of 500 respondents from the United States and 99 from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Canada. Of those surveyed, 49 percent work for general contractor firms, 36 percent came from specialty trades and 15 percent were owners.