Project Progress Reporting

How do you Monitor Subcontractor Productivity?

If any part of executing on your projects includes hiring subcontractors to perform work for you, I’m sure you’ve run into many situations where you question whether or not some of them are any good. So, how do you measure that? How can you easily gather performance metrics on your subs so that you can make key decisions? Getting out of the Dark Being in the dark about whether your subs are performing to plan is a very common frustration for project managers. They may be out there working every day and appearing as though they’re making good progress, but then they mysteriously surprise you at the last minute that things are taking longer than expected. Of course, there may be good reasons for it taking longer; but maybe not. And maybe it would’ve been good to know that two weeks ago, instead of them coming to you with the last-minute stunner. Being able to objectively measure subcontractor productivity is critical for project managers, so that they can make key decisions to keep projects running smoothly. It’s more than just measuring productivity however; it’s also vital to also to benchmark what their productivity should be. Regardless of the type of subcontractor, you need to establish the planned daily progress, so that you can compare the actual daily progress against that.  But how do you do it? How do you objectively measure what they’re doing, as compared to what they should be doing? In this article, I’m going to discuss how the right software solution can provide you the platform for measuring Planned Versus Actual in terms of subcontractor performance. Not only that, but also provide real-time indicators of potential delays so

What Seems Like a Complicated Problem, Can be a Very Simple Solution

I recently had a meeting with a group of project managers and engineers at a mid-size oil & gas producer. For managing their construction projects, this team have an immediate need to improve efficiency, improve project cost reporting, and reduce the amount of manual movement of documents. Especially the high number of documents shared through emails. Throughout the meeting, the four guys were passionately articulating their many diverse challenges they have day-to-day and month-to-month. Each time one piped up to speak about his own version of the ideal solution they needed, another would chime in with a slightly different take on his version of utopia.  They went back and forth just unleashing their troubles and desires for a better system. My role in meetings like this is often to listen and facilitate. And, ultimately, to distill their needs down to a straightforward plan that would improve how they operate, and simplify their lives. Although they brought up many examples and frustrations - the underlying cause of what was truly troubling them was not that complicated. In their case, the challenges they articulated in our meeting could be broken into three broad categories: Field tracking of: labor hours, materials received & used, and daily log information Project Cost Reporting related to the above tracking captured. Reporting that’s easily accessible by multiple users through a common ‘cloud’ interface Document Workflow management and multi-user collaboration & approvals around documents Their perception was that their struggles are quite involved and complicated, but in reality, a very simple solution would eliminate a large percentage of their current pain. This perception is common amongst groups like this, because their daily work-lives are over-complicated by the many manual steps they have

Get Forecast Oversight with the new 4castplus Rules of Credit System

  Press Release To view the original press release, please click here: The new Earning Rules of Credit system available in 4castplus sets the bar for true project cost management and controls. Users can do away with the worries of subjective progress measurements of percent complete – 4castplus brings reason and accountability to a very tricky area of project management. Percent complete is such a critical project metric that forms the basis for so much project analysis. The new rules of credit system creates an objective practice to eliminate the common pitfalls of project progress measurement.   Calgary, Alberta April 2, 2013 4castplus today announced the release of the new Rules of Credit addition to its project forecasting and Earned Value Management system. With this critical new functionality, program and project managers can get project peace of mind through progress oversight and forecasting objectivity. Measuring progress in construction project management software has long been a tricky thing to tackle accurately. There is no absolute science to determining percent complete on projects or tasks. It is often left to the hands and whims of project managers who utilize best-guess methodology and a moist finger in the wind to estimate how far along a project task has progressed. Senior managers and program managers are forced to trust the motives and actions of their project management teams to be as realistic and accurate as possible. Many organizations depend on these calculations of percent complete. They’re vital for determining variance, remaining cost to complete and other earned value management metrics on a project. They’re also used in calculating amounts billable in a progress draw. With the new Earning Rules of Credit solution in 4castplus, project managers can define distinct

Practical Progress Reporting

  Here in the real world of Contract Employees it is very common to arrive on a project when it is part-way through.  For those with experience in Planning and Scheduling, you’ll identify with my statement that getting the best out of your software is part art, part science.  It sucks to pick up on someone else’s planning work and try to figure out their mental processes to fully understand how their schedule operates.  But that’s a blog for another time. For this blog – There I was, new on the project, still feeling my way around the schedules and the people, and one of our main contractors presented me with an MS Project schedule that was worth less than toilet paper.   I’d had no time to familiarise myself with the history of the project, no real chance to understand the personalities I was dealing with, but enough time to know that my predecessor had left a mess and it was now MY job to clean it up and make it work. There was just not enough time available for me to ease into the system, and the shutdown was fast approaching, so I had to wade into the team members with my steel-toe boots and hope for the best.  I called a meeting to lay out my expectations, needs and boundaries regarding the planning and scheduling for the rest of the project.  The people I brought into this meeting were: Our construction manager Our 2 lead superintendants The construction managers of our main contractors The planners of our main contractors Our Client’s construction manager Our Client’s project manager Our Client’s planner Before calling the meeting, I briefly discussed my intention with my construction manager

Got projects going over budget?

You're Not Alone. Project cost overruns are common. Statistics will tell you that over 85% of projects go over budget. But Why? What are the mechanics behind project cost overruns and project schedule delays? Plenty of talented and experienced professionals engage in dialog about this very topic every day, and try to arrive at conclusions about how to stop projects from going over budget. In this article I’d like to shed some light on the underlying workings as to the root causes of cost overruns and schedule delays. In order to tackle the problem of how to eliminate overruns, it’s important to understand the main reasons why they happen. Obviously, there’s no one-sentence answer to these questions since every project is unique and the influences that trigger overruns can vary tremendously. Luckily, however, there’s been quite a bit of research and experimentation around this exact problem - since it is a pervasive issue that so many businesses, large and small, struggle with. As a result, there have emerged some key factors we can point to that are the major contributors to projects going over budget and suffering schedule delays. A lot of project managers and business owners have their own theories; and after a good deal of listening and reading, many will have you believe that it all comes down to one thing: Project Changes. Technically speaking project changes are arguably the biggest contributor to projects going over budget and blowing schedule deadlines, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s leave Change and Change Management out of it. I’m saying that because I don’t believe changes are truly the root cause of cost overruns. I believe that if you approach a project anticipating that

Using Rate-Types, you can track Anything

Rate Types in 4castplus are used to represent a Unit of Measure for tracking Labor, Equipment and Materials resources. Rate types can define anything measurable or quantifiable and are typically based on Time, Volume, Weight, Distance, #Units or Length to name a few examples.  Did you know, however, that Rate Types can also be setup to define other measurements as well?  There are obviously many ways to measure progress in projects, but not all of them fall into those standard categories mentioned above. With the use of Rate-Types in 4castplus, there is really no restriction as to the types of things that can be tracked and measured – or whether you track them as labor, equipment or materials. For example, as a way to measure project progress and pay subcontractors, there is a 4castplus client who uses cubic yards of dirt moved as a labor unit of measure.   Rather than paying an hourly/daily rate or asking for a fixed-price amount, it’s become easier for them to negotiate and pay by a more physical and absolute measurement of progress.  They see this as a fair way to distribute the estimating risk and a more clear way to measure & track projects. So, they’ve setup a Labor rate-type in 4castplus called, as you might guess, “Cubic Yards of Dirt Moved”, which is used to track their subcontractor costs and project progress. Their subcontractors are paid based on the negotiated $amount-per-unit and at the end of each day, each subcontractor enters in the number of cubic-yards they’ve moved in that day into their timesheet. During project planning, the project manager will have entered the associated cost rate in 4castplus rate tables so the calculations are all automatic and