Operations

The role of continuous improvement in advancing construction

Advancing construction through operational excellence requires a focus on continuous improvement.

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Achieving operational excellence — and the competitive advantages it promises — is no easy task in the construction industry, where many companies are heavily laden with paper-based processes, operational silos, technical debt, and an ever-increasing complex set of business challenges. 

Still, as I’ve suggested in the past, operational excellence in construction can be achieved. I touched on the key principles that organizations must embrace to optimize and streamline operations, experience improved team performance and smoother expansion, and make better business decisions.

I mentioned how continuous improvement, while not the only part, is a critical piece of achieving operational excellence. How organizations must be willing to experiment and fail upwards in a cycle of growth and process improvement to beat the competition. 

In my last article, I highlighted the five principles related to continuous improvement you must incorporate into your processes. Let’s dig more deeply into them today and look at how Briq can help.

1. Assure quality at the source

As the adage goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” If you’re like many construction companies, you have an abundance of disparate systems in which information is entered — often starting with paper-based processes. This introduces human error, slows processes, and a mistake might not be found for weeks.

It’s impossible to make sound data-driven decisions based on the information presented if you can’t be confident of its quality. Briq helps by sharing data across all your systems in real-time and allowing quality controls to be put into place to find anomalies that could be errors in an automated fashion.

2. Improve flow and pull

Ensuring a good cadence between customer demand for building projects and the flow at which they can be completed is a constant area of potential improvement for even the most efficient construction businesses. Briq improves flow and pull by creating customized workflows, sharing data across multiple systems at the touchpoints in your company’s financial cycle that matter to you. Combined with the knowledge of your expert team, Briq’s tools provide a complete holistic picture from project forecasting, through change orders, downstream to labor utilization and more, such as the WIP, and ultimately revenue forecasts. This flow and pull of data is complex to navigate across multiple systems, reporting cycles, and roles. Taking advantage of the ability to combine system data with human input and tools that let you forecast more dynamically than traditional methods will improve this flow-and-pull cycle — and the team can dedicate more time to analysis!  

3. Seek perfection

Working towards the organization’s betterment is what continuous improvement is all about. Perfection might not be attainable, but you should always be working towards it. Doing this requires leveraging tools to improve your organization’s analytic capacity, moving away from descriptive and diagnostic data analytics towards more predictive and ultimately prescriptive use of data. The construction industry has a huge opportunity to improve here, and by creating the data governance that would be needed, Briq helps you tee up to embrace a new model of data analytics to improve efficiency and work towards perfection.

4. Embrace scientific thinking

You can’t fix what you don’t know. This requires a bit of reverse engineering. Building on previous points, look at your needs to assure quality and workflows’ structure. Using data science to be as predictive and prescriptive around how to improve these specific areas. It’s important here to be detailed and specific. Think, do you need to have an escalated alert when you see a few unapproved change orders on a project? How many are a few? Is it three, five, 12? Since Briq is customizable to your organization, it can incorporate very granular specifics, so consider precisely what you need to do to improve your processes and work back from there.

 5. Focus on process

Of course, improvement is ultimately grounded in changing processes. The construction industry is rife with processes, and despite the push for digital tools, many of them remain paper based. Project managers, financial teams, and superintendents find themselves inefficiently filling forms in triplicate, while the information in those forms sits locked in a siloed system. Of course, improving processes is easier said than done when every business process exists in three versions of the truth: what you think it is, what it is really, and what it should be.

Briq helps you achieve continuous improvement in your construction company by improving data quality, improving processes, and helping you make better forecasts and business decisions by embracing industry best practices in data science and analytics. 

In striving for continuous improvement, your teams collaborate more effectively and work more independently. Processes are cleaned up, sped up, and optimized. And your employees see their impact more clearly because the information they need is at their fingertips. (See more on that in my next blog on enterprise alignment.)

If you’re interested in learning more about how Briq can help you in achieving operational excellence in your construction company, contact us to set up a demo.