Every day, construction leaders are faced with many different challenges: logistical, technical, social, financial, labor difficulties, you name it. And then there’s the admin on top of it all.
But ultimately, any of those challenges can be traced back to three fundamental physical issues on your job site.
There is either something missing, something present that shouldn’t be, or there’s something wrong with the way something was installed.
The larger issues in construction are all somehow linked to these three statuses.
Your plumber misinstalled a pipe but you can’t get them back on the job site because they’ve moved on to another project. It’s a personnel problem, for sure. But it was caused by a botched installation.
You are missing some material that is causing delays since other work depends on it. It’s a logistical problem leading to a progress problem, yes. But ultimately, it’s a consequence of something not being there that should be.
The problems are simple. Resolving them is another matter.
That’s because simple problems combine, interlock, get worse over time and become interrelated clusters. It’s this escalation of initially simple, physical issues that gives rise to the whole host of social, logistical, financial and technical challenges that construction professionals wrestle with every day.
But small issues snowball only if they are not acted on as soon as they arise. And they can only be dealt with if they are noticed, first.
Suppose you are a construction leader working on a large and complex project, like a 200+ apartment block, a manufacturing plant or a hospital.
Consider for a moment how issues come to your attention.
There are generally two ways. You either hear about an issue from someone or you identify it yourself on your site walk.
- Are you going to hear about all the issues?
- Are you going to get complete and reliable information from everyone?
- And when you do the site-walk, do you have the building specs so solidly ingrained in your brain, that you only have to look at a section once to notice all the things that are missing or installed out of sequence?
If you answered no to any of these questions, you are not alone.
Large and complex projects are data-heavy affairs. And there is a lot that gets missed if people just eyeball stuff.
Humans simply aren’t suited to handle massive amounts of data. And they tend to go with their gut when they need to decide about situations that include many unknowns.
Are these always going to be the best decisions? Of course not. But as construction leader, you do your best with the information and the people that you have.
What if there was a solution that could help you navigate these unknowns? A solution that would extract the information from your site, and present you visually with all the issues that you need to be dealing with right now?
A solution, in short, that could inform you reliably and accurately of all the things on your site that are missing, wrongfully present or defective?
That’s the solution Disperse makes. It’s a productivity platform for the building industry that’s focused intensely on enabling execution, because that is, in our opinion, how we can really move the needle in the sector.
Planning is great. Documentation is great. But execution is where it’s at.
By improving the day-to-day operation of construction teams, by helping them solve physical problems before they get out of control, and become bigger, multidimensional social, political, financial and legal problems, we can genuinely help project teams build better buildings with fewer resources.
Every digital solution represents an approach, an ordering of priorities. We have modeled ours on the living reality of professionals in the field.
So the insights about issues/components that are missing, wrong or at risk are the first thing that project teams see when they interact with our solution. It should be clear in three seconds where the project is at and where the issues are. Those are the things that drive progress, after all.
If the system flags an issue, and that issue merits further examination, our users can easily bring up the photo history of the section in question. And if they want to go deeper, for example if they need to resolve a dispute, they can dive into the reports that have all the underlying data connected with the issue.
While consulting reports may – very occasionally – be part of a boots-on-the-ground construction leader’s workflow, creating them should not be a task the project team is burdened with. Project people are already the busiest people in construction. And the time they spend on building reports is time they cannot spend on execution.
It’s kind of crazy when you think about it. Project teams spend many hours per month building reports that they don’t use (and rarely need) themselves. We know this from our usage data: construction leaders hardly engage with the reports at all.
But they do spend huge amounts of time gathering data and compiling reports mostly for the benefit of other stakeholders and often only because the contract says they should.
Disperse creates many of these reports automatically. And enables project teams to fulfill contractual obligations at the push of a button. This saves hundreds of hours monthly and enables them to focus on their core job: driving progress, instead.
As Jacquelyn Mascoli, Project Executive at Gilbane, said:
“The reporting mirrors a lot of what construction teams are already doing in PDF and Excel. It eliminates all the time that it takes to do that job and you barely have time to do.”
Because of the way Disperse handles projects operationally, the data that reports are based on are complete and accurate. It removes the significant subjectivity and incompleteness implied in people gathering that information manually on site walks.
And Disperse does this weekly, which makes the reporting instantly more useful than the monthly cadence that is customary in construction.
As Mascoli says:
“Every week, you get an update on your schedule so you can see where you are in real time. This is actually a great feature, because you can have real conversations with your contractors about how they've been doing.
I think we all know in construction, four weeks is too long to assess your schedule, if you've waited four weeks to see where you're doing, you're already behind. On a weekly basis it is way more helpful.”
Disperse offers a Pulse Report, which is a dashboard showing project progress through graphs. It’s organized by phase, trade, and location and can be used to understand where trades may be falling behind. It enables your teams to track percentage-complete, WIP, as well as the velocity of your trades.
Then, in the interest of ‘managing up’, there is the Executive Summary that has the building’s overall progress on a high level. It’s useful to communicate with stakeholders like the owner or main office.
Other reports include the Progress Report (which has a detailed status overview of all project tasks and components) and a Cost Report (which automates information for pencil requisition). And optionally we also integrate with the schedule/programme to provide accurate Earned Value reporting.
Having all these reports automatically available every week means that stakeholders have a much more complete insight into their project.
When everybody is on the same page in terms of progress, there will be less front-loading of payments. And people will be playing fewer games to try and claim more than their share. This means less risk for the project. And, incidentally, it means less risk for the subcontractors themselves, too.
Everybody knows that transparency is not always fully embraced in construction. But when it is, it leads to a better culture of building, and that leads to a better building per se.
By knowing objectively where the issues are, the progress each trade is making, and how the project is doing overall, it becomes far easier to make the kinds of decisions that help deliver a better quality asset earlier, with less risk and for less money to boot.
Are you a project executive working on large and complex projects and are you curious if we really deliver what we say we can deliver? Try us out!
President Disperse Americas