How to Reduce
Top Construction Risks
By David Wagner
September 10, 2020
Every construction project has its inherent risks, both big and small, from the front office to the job site. It’s the nature of the industry, really.
Regardless, one thing is certain: Risk can derail a project by throwing off critical timing and/or inflating costs — especially when neither is unaccounted for during the planning stages.
Better planning with project risk management
Unfortunately, no one can predict or control everything that can occur during the entire project lifecycle. What about the things over which you do have some level of control … or at least a shot at planning for? Having a project risk management plan in place before the build begins goes a long way toward mitigating the many risks that could occur.
Granted, there’s definitely a lot to manage. But construction software can be a very effective tool in putting more control in your hands so your plan goes more smoothly. Using mobile apps or on-line cloud-based solutions can help minimize the effects of some common risks you’re most likely to encounter.
Inefficient, unreliable labor
Labor is at the heart of any construction project. And the success of your build hinges on hiring reliable people who make the best use of their time and effort. When do they arrive for their shift? When do they leave? What do they accomplish between those hours? Software that can track scheduling makes it easy to record clock-in and clock-out times as well as tracking productivity throughout a job. Arming yourself with this kind of data gives you insight into individual productivity levels you can track over time. You’ll be able to hold workers more accountable and reduce the risk of keeping or hiring inefficient ones. And you’ll have the added benefit of knowing who to ask back as you plan with an eye toward future projects.
Moreover, tracking who you’re hiring means you can eliminate bringing on workers who aren’t sufficiently qualified to perform specialized tasks or use certain equipment — which could lead to safety violations or poor work that has to be redone. That’s especially so with the current labor shortage when it’s become even more imperative to find skilled workers who can keep your project humming along by doing the job right the first time.
Poor communication and documentation
Think of all the mistakes that could be avoided with effective communication:
- Heavy reliance on email as the primary, or even sole, source of communicating and sending project information, and not always to the same, or even necessary, project teams.
- Having no central virtual place for everyone to share information or upload documents ensuring everyone on the team is using the most current documentation.
- Lack of collaboration among project teams, managers, and stakeholders, and its impact on workflow and timely decision-making.
- Not submitting change orders in time through the right channels, which can wind up having far greater impact than the change itself in the form of rework. Rework, whether due to an overlooked change order or not, can put a dent in profit margins with the increased project costs incurred by materials and labor expenses required to redo the job.
Poor communication could be costing the construction industry $17 billion annually.* Ouch. Consider the thousands of costly risks that had to have played out to their consequential end to arrive at that number.
How can you reduce the impact miscommunication has? Adopt cloud-based technology with strong communication capabilities to simplify and streamline much of this, and make updates available in real-time. You can set up notifications of changes or delays that will go to impacted project teams (and anyone else on a need-to-know basis) so they’re aware of how it affects them and can adjust accordingly. And it allows stakeholders to make strategic decisions of how to proceed as cost-effectively and time-sensitively as possible when things do go awry.
One important point: the construction software you use as your platform is ideally where all your project documents are centralized and organized. This simplifies searching for plans, specifications, changes, approvals and any other information that would be shared among anyone involved in the build, and reduces many of the potential miscommunication risks.
Safety or injury incidents
When you think of “risk” in a construction sense, safety issues are likely at or near the top of the list — particularly in terms of physical safety of laborers where potential for injury is high.
But why not reduce the risk of injury in the first place? What workers don’t know, or have access to, can prove detrimental. A lack of safety knowledge or training can put them at risk — and out of commission in the case of injury — which could impact job productivity levels, not to mention liability claims.
An effective approach is to upload safety documents to a centralized cloud-based software system accessible from mobile devices when on-site, where such information would prove most useful. These documents can vary from project to project, but may include:
- Checklists to ensure required protocols are followed
- Logs of employees’ completed safety training
- Standardized incident report forms to gather necessary details
- Safety data sheets (SDS)
- An established process to report hazardous job site conditions
- Online safety training
- Equipment operating manuals
- Site- or project-specific safety rules
What about incidents that do occur (and they will)? They can be reported directly from the site using mobile apps. Real-time access to and notification of any incidents give stakeholders a chance to make decisions about how to resolve them — to reduce the likelihood of future similar risk, and with minimal impact on the schedule.
Not leaving anything to chance with project risk management
Adopting the right construction software at the beginning of a project helps streamline project risk management responsibilities from start to finish. It adds an extra level of certainty and peace of mind knowing there’s less left to chance. It shows commitment to everyone’s safety, as well as to the success of the build for the client.
InEight has created construction software solutions that help mitigate the common risks involved in small and large projects alike. Learn how our solutions help you adjust for risks from the beginning before anything has a chance to happen.