Are your cycle times getting longer? Are trades not showing up on your jobsites? Are you experiencing delays with closings and unpredictable cash flow? It’s easy to blame construction schedules and material shortages for these issues. However, the root cause is more widespread. The problem is inconsistency and unreliability in the processes and schedules that exist throughout your organization.
Which areas below do you think contribute to your extended cycle times?
- Soft Cycle or Pre-Construction
- Sales & Production
- Drawings & Specification
- Leadership & Management
Cycle time (and profit) improvement begins at the top with strategic leadership and effective management. Are you measuring activities? What’s your productivity score? Eliminate time-consuming process waste. Reduce the quantity and improve the quality of your meetings. Set SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). Focus on consistency and reliability in all of the processes and schedules used across your organization.
Are your construction drawings and specifications complete and consistent? Are they easily accessible? All of the necessary information for trade partners to bid and crews to build should be available in a consistent and reliable location. Drawings and specifications should be improved regularly through variance, delay and exception improvement processes.
Is your sales department working with customers who are ready and able to buy? Are your buyers really ready for you to start building their home? How long is it taking you to close after the home is complete? The first step in reducing closing delays is identifying what is causing them.
Consistency is the goal with your production schedule. Consistency equals predictability. Do not vary your start pace every week or month. Even-flow slots or "sell by" schedules are critical. The focus should be on completion dates.
Do not underestimate the impact your soft cycle has on overall cycle time and profitability. The soft cycle schedule is just as important as the construction schedule. All processes impacting home delivery need to be consistent, reliable and scheduled.
How reliable are your construction schedules so your trades can plan for staffing them properly? If your schedules are unreliable, trades don't trust them, they can't use them to plan, they become reactive and your jobs sit empty. Welcome to the unreliability cycle.
It's time to reclaim the schedule, admit you have a problem, and stop blaming the trades. Work with your trades to create a schedule template that works. As you measure, analyze and implement improvements to your schedules, they become more predictable, reliable and consistent. Trades will plan their resources around your reliable schedules and show up as expected.
Focus on the objectives below to address the root cause of your cycle time issues.
- Strategic leadership and effective management
- Complete drawings and specifications
- Consistent production, generally aligned with effective sales
- Well-managed pre-construction tasks (soft cycle)
- Construction schedules agreed to and adhered to by all involved—each day
- Continuous improvement in all areas, starting with leadership and management
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