Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with many of our customers and the subject of how they handle jobs, from receiving a bid invitation to close-out. One thing that always surprised me was how many times a job was taken off before it could be started.
When a job has been awarded, often the job’s project manager will re-estimate it and begin the process of purchasing the materials and scheduling the equipment. When the materials appear on site, the field electricians report to the foreman that some of the materials are wrong. The foreman calls the project manager, the project manager calls the supply house, and eventually the correct materials are shipped to the site.
Sound familiar? The root cause of this problem is the same, to one degree or another, in every company. Lack of communication. In the above example, everything ended well, but how much time was lost in the process?
A good estimate will always include some time for non-productive labor, but it should be every company’s priority to minimize that loss as much as possible.
Many estimators are former field electricians, but over time they begin to lose touch with what’s going on out in the field. It’s more difficult for them to stay current on updated installation methods. There seems to be new time-saving tools and materials every year. Some of these items sound good but installers find them difficult to work with. Some save time, but the material cost is beyond what you save in labor. And then there are those that save time and money. Your best source for this information is the job foreman and their best source of are field electricians.
Much time would be saved if the estimators and project managers met regularly with foremen and field electricians. With the right information, the estimator could include the correct materials in the estimating phase, reducing the workload of the project manager and reducing the loss associated with returns.
A side benefit from this communication is the improved performance you’ll get from your field electricians. Many workplace studies have been done to prove that when everyone feels involved, they tend to be more motivated and performance improves.