Tag Archives: project management

ABC Launches “Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard”

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Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) launched an online scorecard that will review and grade state-specific policies affecting the construction industry. “Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard” is a website where builders, contractors and suppliers can view which states have created beneficial or subpar environments for the construction industry.

Quick Overview about the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national construction industry trade association representing nearly 21,000 chapter members. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 70 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically, profitably and for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. ABC’s membership represents all specialties within the U.S. construction industry.

What is Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard?

Building America: The Merit Shop Scorecard reviews and ranks state-specific information that is significant to the construction industry. The scorecard is a tool to identify states that are embracing the merit shop philosophy via legislation, policies, priorities and valuable programs, as well as highlight states where proactive and strategic improvements need to be executed to create an environment conducive to the industry’s needs. Rankings have been assigned primarily based on the core issues concerning merit shop construction, including state policies on Right to Work, prevailing wage and government-mandated project labor agreements.

US States are ranked based on how construction-friendly they are

Overall ranking (1-51) is determined through a combined score of the seven graded criteria. Ties in combined score being broken by performance on ABC core issues, with secondary consideration given to additional graded criteria.

Every state received a score in each of the following seven categories measuring critical laws, programs, policies, and statistics impacting the merit shop contracting community. An overall comparative ranking was then assigned to each state by considering all measured categories, with particular emphasis given to the first three criteria of project labor agreements, prevailing wage, and Right to Work state laws and/or executive orders.

Ties in combined score were broken by performance on ABC core issues and a consideration of the other scored criteria grades.

  • Project Labor Agreements State policies on government-mandated PLAs on public and publically assisted projects.
  • Prevailing WageState policies requiring contractors performing work on contracts procured by public entities or with a certain threshold of public funding to pay a government-determined prevailing wage to construction workers employed on a contract subject to the requirements. 
  • Right to Work - Right to Work law or other statutory protection of a worker’s right to secure employment without being forced to join a union.
  • Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) - State allows public sector entities to enter into contracts with private sector entities in which both sectors share the risk and revenue from a project.
  • Workforce Development - State provides financial incentives directly to employers or associations that train their workers through registered apprenticeship programs or other industry-recognized programs like those provided by NCCER (formerly the National Center for Construction Education and Research); state provides financial incentives to employers that hire workers that possess an industry-recognized credential or are a graduate of a registered apprenticeship program.
  • Education - State policy allows for flexible high school curriculum standards that promote rigorous and relevant skilled trades and career and technical education (CTE) opportunities for career readiness, as well as college preparation opportunities.
  • Job Growth Rate - Data provides the Compound Annual Growth Rate in construction from 2011 to 2015 using data from the month of August. States with a higher growth rate were given higher scores than states that had a low or negative growth rate.
  • Prompt Pay - State has public and private prompt pay requirements for owners and higher tier contractors to pay subcontractors.
  • Immigration/E-Verify  - Identifies states that require employers or state contractors to utilize E-Verify. ABC National’s immigration policy calls for federal preemption of state-level immigration-related requirements. 
  • State GDP - Percentage of state GDP directly resulting from nonresidential construction (2013).
  • 2013 Incidence Rate - Data tracks the 2013 incidence rate in construction, which is collected and reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is a lagging indicator, with 2013 being the most recent information reported through the BLS survey process. The rate is calculated as the number of incidents per 100 full-time workers. While this is important information to have on hand, it remains non-scored because the variables that affect incidence rates are numerous and require much greater context to demonstrate the specific conditions that lead to lower rates.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Oversight - State occupational safety and health entities versus states controlled by the federal Occupation Safety and Health Administration.
  • Construction Industry Unionization Rate - Data indicates how many and what percentage of a state’s construction workforce belonged to a labor union in 2014.

Visit their website and view the scores at www.meritshopscorecard.org.

Sometimes, You Have to Say a Nice “No”

Yes ma’am! Yes sir!

Most entrepreneurs can’t find enough hours in a day to do all of the things they want. Despite this however, we often find ourselves saying yes to even more requests. Maybe it’s because as entrepreneurs we’re optimists by nature. We believe that even the most mundane tasks can still be squeezed into a day. It could also be due to our instinct to always impress other people and avoid causing disappointment. Builders know this all too often. Clients often make unlimited requests and countless inquiries.

What’s at stake?

When you take on too much, you are putting your health, credibility and efficiency at risk. When you over reach and are not able to deliver on all of your promises, not only will it give you stress, it can also cast a negative light on you and your entire company.

Saying NO without hurting business relationships

A successful entrepreneur should be accountable for all commitments. It’s also important to manage the expectations of both your team and your clients. Here are a few things to remember so that you can say “no” without burning bridges or hurting a client’s feelings.

1. Establish boundaries – When you’re dealing with clients, give them a gentle reminder of the scope and limits of your contract and agreement.  Be professional about it. When you’re dealing with your constituents, know your priorities and limits. Don’t say yes when you actually mean no. Don’t break your own rules. Be calm and firm, but never rude nor disrespectful.

2. Ask for some time to check your calendar – It’s an acceptable business practice to review your schedule first or converse with other principals before committing to an answer. It’s not a good idea to quickly say yes when you’re not yet sure that you can deliver. A quick no on the other hand can immediately ruin good ties. Again, be professional. Check your schedule first and see if you can confidently say yes to a request before doing so.

3. Pause – Before saying yes, take a deep breath and think. What do you r instincts say? Should you say yes? Or is your mind screaming, “No you cannot possibly accommodate this!” You can also take a longer pause and give yourself some time to make a pros and cons list. Talk to the client and lay out your situation first. This can lead you both to a nice compromise. The key here is to stop briefly and assess the situation. It also buys you some time!

4. Explain your constraints – Don’t be so quick to dole out the rejection. Make sure to provide the requestor with a clear context. The task they’re asking may be too hard on your current workload, manpower, budget, or strategies. Make sure to keep things encouraging first.

5. Say YES to the person, NO to the task – Sometimes, it’s all about the manner on how you talk to someone. Make sure that the other person understands how positively you feel about them. Even if you may not be able to accommodate the request now, reassure them that it’s not a personal affront. Keep the relationship on a positive note.

6.  Sandwich the NO between a double YES – If you’re sure that you won’t be able to commit to a specific request, you can keep things positive by sandwiching the NO between two yeses. For example, if your client demands that you yourself visit the build site, and you absolutely cannot do it, give them a positive project update first, and then end the statement by saying that you will send your best man to personally inspect their concern. Give them two things to smile about so they can forego the minor disappointment.

Before anything else…

But wait, before you do anything drastic, make sure to have a good scheduling system in place. Something like SAM- The Superintendent’s Automated Manager. Use SAM to coordinate your things-to-do and your project timelines. With its instant reporting tools, you’ll find out immediately just where each project stands. It will allow you to check your schedule in an instant, as well as pass along vital information to your key personnel.

So to conclude, remember that it’s okay to say no sometimes. Delegating the request to a team member could be the better solution. Sometimes you also just need to prioritize. As a leader you have to make the tough decisions, but at the end of the day, you still need to keep your stakeholders happy.

Tips for Handling Multiple Projects

Home builders are often working on more than one project at a time. In fact, that’s our goal isn’t it? To have a constant stream of projects and the capacity to take on all of them at once.

The problem is that oftentimes, we are quick to commit to new projects even when our companies are not yet that equipped to handle the onslaught of tasks and deliverables. So in this post, we’re focusing on practical tips on how to effectively juggle multiple home construction projects.

1. Preparation is king

Before you start on the construction of a home, it’s of utmost importance to be as prepared as you possibly can. Gather all the information that you need. Make sure that you’re complete with all of the permits and paperwork. Ensure that you and the client are on the same page in terms of expected results. Check if you have sufficient manpower to take on the project. Double check the financials. Set project milestones. Finalize your expected project completion date. You don’t head out into a war without the proper tools! Preparation 101 is the first step to any project.

2. Don’t leave broken windows

We’ve mentioned earlier that you should set milestones for each project. Window installations? Roofing? Waterworks and piping? Electricals? Make sure that they are set at a reasonable schedule. It’s a given that plans will change as the project progresses and schedules will have to adjust, but when we say don’t leave broken windows, it means, don’t leave problems unattended. No matter how small an issue is, make sure that it’s properly addressed. Even the smallest problems will snowball especially when we’re dealing with multiple projects at a time.

3. Set up a monitoring system

So you’ve already set a schedule and sometimes they need to be adjusted, now the key is to make sure that everything is constantly monitored. Set up a monitoring or report system that is accessible to key people in the project. This is good for accountability and quick status updates.

4. Proper information dissemination

Deadlines are often adjusted and we always have to deal with various delays in delivery or completion. Vendors or contractual employees can change in the middle of a project. Clients almost always change their minds about the most trivial details. As a project manager, it’s your job to ensure that these changes are properly communicated to the rest of your team. Don’t monopolize the information. Share them and gather everyone on the same page. This is crucial when you’re doing more than one project. We don’t want you getting confused either.

5. Delegate!

No man is an island. You are not Superman. There is no “i” in team. Delegate!

When you’re trying to juggle several projects at a time, you need to ensure that tasks are distributed to the proper key persons. A good leader knows how to instruct and motivate his followers. Your company will not grow if you refuse to let go of the reins. Let your people do their job. In fact, do your best to train people so that they can take over some of the high-level tasks as well. That way, you can focus on getting new projects and further expanding your construction business.

To check out the best tools for multiple project management, check out SAM and VIC.

Builder Tips: The Truth About Project Management

Effective project management doesn’t have one basic template. Each project involves a hundred little adjustments from your usual approach. Today, we’re debunking some of the most common project management myths and shedding light on the best ways on how to go about your business.

Fact: It’s not all about processes

A lot of newbie project managers mistakenly compare project management to a computer that’s all about processes and algorithms. Based on experience, we know that this isn’t true.

In fact, project management is mostly about people. It’s about people management, client servicing, and conflict resolution. So yes, while methodology is very important to any initiative, it’s just part of the responsibilities.

Team work and soft skills are a must too.

Fact: Remote collaboration can be productive
Work mobility is absolutely essential to good project management. The advancements in technology today make remote collaboration completely possible. Did you know that in a recent survey, 37% of businesses report that their remote workers are more engaged than the ones in the office?

Also, 75% of bosses report that remote employees are much happier than those who don’t have that option. And here’s a whopper, remotely working actually increases performance by 13%!

Fact: Project management is NEVER just about paperwork.

Executing and organizing a project is more than just securing permits, creating timetables and making checklists. The fact of the matter is, project managers spend 90% of their work time communicating. 

Did you know that you can cut down as much as 10% of working hours by reducing paperwork, moving your projects to the cloud, and using project management software?

FACT: Frequent meetings are not that essential

Make the most of your time. Did you know that 47% of workers consider meetings one of the biggest time-wasters in the workplace? People arriving late, waiting for everyone to settle down, unnecessary chitchat here and there, all of these add up to hours of time that could have been spent being productive. If an actual face-to -face meeting is a must, keep it short and sweet.

Project management is one of the trickiest jobs out there, but it can also be the most fulfilling. Nothing beats the feeling of finishing a project that’s been executed to perfection. When you see your clients’ smiles, everything will be worth it!

Click here to know more about how Project Management has gone paperless.