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On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!: Oh, That Management Training

October 26, 2011
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I am confused, which may not be new or unusual but I have had a plethora of invitations to seminars sent to me on “ Construction Project Management.” These seminars have catchy little phrases and techniques, like Electronic Project Management, Integrated Project Delivery and others like come in like tsunami. All promise to make the general contractor supervisors leaner and meaner, to make your projects more efficient, more productive and put more money in your pocket. But the fact remains that production is down; projects that run over budget and over schedule are the norm. I suppose this is why we have this deluge of educational seminars and programs with cute, tricky names.

I know they are trying but most of the people putting on these classes have little to know practical field experience. My son has recently started in construction and has been on a large hospital project and now a major theme park. He likes to talk about his day at dinner. I enjoy hearing what happens on site, and it brings back memories, some good, some not-so-good. But even as inexperienced as he is he has noticed that scheduling by the superintendent is ridiculous and wasteful. Not the wall and ceiling superintendent but the general contractor superintendent.

The confusing part is that scheduling was an issue when I was in the field, but it is much worse today. And we have more classes to teach us how to avoid this, yet to no avail, we climb into a deeper hole of poor production. When will the big boys learn that the subcontractors, who are experts at what they do, should be listened to? Yes, there are some bad subcontractors but there are some great ones too.

I was involved with the construction of a major sports stadium, and after a project meeting with several subcontractors and the general contractor team, the subs met outside in a private meeting. Why? They did not allow the general to set unobtainable schedules, pit subcontractors against each other, promote trade stacking and the subcontractors worked as a true team. The project finished on budget and ahead of schedule.
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