The construction industry is made up of a wide assortment of businesses that range from multi million pound national companies, small independent companies and all sorts in between. Likewise the type of work carried is also made up of an assortment of jobs and contracts.
The one thing they should all have in common is a high standard of workmanship provided in a timely, cost effective and efficient way. Bit of a pipe dream some might say and regrettably they would be right. There are still ‘cowboys’ working out there sometimes with devastating effect. Whether a lack of skill or lack of morals is the main cause for this, fortunately they are in the minority. So what methods can be employed generically that would enable the industry to self-regulate when the range and types of business is so vast?
Let’s talk Benchmarking! This can be a simple method of improving performance using systematic and logical measures that enable you to compare your performance either against others, or against your own past performance. You can then use the lessons learned to make targeted improvements. In this day and age continued development of yourself and your business is needed to separate you from the run of the mill. It includes staying abreast of new regulations, technology and design.
Where do you start?
Ask yourself about your competition. Are they better than you? If so why?
Ask yourself what you need to improve about your own business even when you think it’s all good. Take some time to think about the bigger picture, not just about the next job. Sounds like too much trouble? Luckily help is at hand.
The concept of benchmarking isn’t new to construction but it’s being encouraged by a national set of Key Performance Indicators. This allows companies to measure performance and set targets based around national performance data. It can take many different forms depending on what you want to achieve for your business. For example you might take recycling as a subject looking at the amount of waste generated and how much is recycled. Once you assess what that is, you can look at ways to improve and reduce. Or you might look at Health & Safety.
Performance indicators can be categorised under the following headings; Internal, Generic and Competitive. The important thing is to choose the ones that will help you improve performance rather than the ones that just tell you things that might be good to know. In this way you don’t waste time and effort but you must also acknowledge where the improvements need to be made and then plan, analyse and take action to change things. The outcomes then need to be reviewed. You also need to be persistent if you don’t see results straight away and possibly start with one key area rather than try to look at the business overall.
KPIs can also provide a crucial quick overview of the financial position of a project against budget.
Another aspect of where KPIs are important is where a contract specifies rewards or penalties based on performance in relation to particular identified indicators. If these are included in tender documentation they may require the provision of certain information on a regular basis as part of the contract. This can involve a lot of monitoring of processes including sub-contractors as evidence that targets and standards are being met.