A serious risk to any construction project is when construction managers rely on reporting that shows the work is being performed in a manner that meets budget and schedule demands when, in reality, it does not. For this reason, consistent reporting of the right data can provide insight into key project indicators and help identify variances to a project’s baseline plans early in the project. Basic project controls reporting includes measurables such as contract profitability, installed quantities, labor hours, productivity, and schedule performance. While basic reporting of historical data may suffice in some industries, large, complex construction projects benefit from the provision of forward-looking reporting in addition to historical data.
Early in a project, construction managers should take an active role in deciding what data to report. It is important to be familiar with contract requirements and the execution methodology when determining report requirements. For example, if a general contractor engages with a subcontractor that will perform work on a time-and-materials basis, it may be appropriate to require the subcontractor to report labor productivity data that is then verified by the general contractor’s field personnel. Implementing such a practice could potentially provide advance notice of cost increases related to labor hour overruns. Similarly, a contractor involved in work on a unit-rate type contract may wish to track the same data internally to ensure actual labor costs are not exceeding those built into the contract unit pricing.
Ultimately, the data reported on a construction project is subject to the knowledge and experience of the construction managers analyzing it. Identification of baseline variances by means of the reporting metrics used on a project does not necessarily provide insight into the actions that should be instituted to counter negative impacts to a project. However, a construction manager’s failure to establish appropriate reporting means and methods early in a job increases the risks to a project’s success. Attempting to implement sound reporting methods after a project has strayed from the plan is an incredibly difficult and time-consuming task that can distract from the day-to-day project management activities.