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Project Productivity and Indirect Impact to Productivity due to Project Execution Plan Changes

It is necessary to take into account both in terms of cost and time the effects of productivity. While this is stating the obvious, in reality it is frequently not taken into account to the detriment of the party that’s responsible for executing the work.


For example let’s consider the case where a building constructor is about to miss an important milestone and needs to accelerate his schedule by crashing critical path activities. Say that the duration to complete 1,500 SF of exterior brick walls for a building by a crew of 4 bricklayers now need to be completed in 7 days as opposed to the original duration of 10 days of eight working hours each.


The total number of hours to complete the job per the original duration would be 320 manhours. One could with ease re-calculate the working hours for the crew of 4 to 12 hour days, but this calculation would be wrong since it does not take into account productivity. Per the below productivity table a 12 hour workday for a 5 day work week results in a reduced productivity of 90% versus a regular 40 hour workweek for the first week and a further reduction in productivity on the second week of 85%. That means that to meet the 7 day activity duration either the crew would have to work not 12 but close to 13 hours per day for the 7 work days or if that was not possible then an additional worker would need to be incorporated to the crew.

Estimating Productivity

It’s worth noting that productivity while minimally impacted during short runs of overtime, over longer periods of duration it is very significantly reduced.


As it can be seen productivity is a very important factor that is not fixed, rather it is a variable pending a number of factors including the afore discussed number of hours per workweek as well as whether the job is newbuild or a variation/ change order (the later having a significantly reduced productivity), the height and location of the work to be performed in the jobsite, distance and access to job staging area, working conditions e.g. temperature and mobility, the size of project with the resulting or lack of economies of scale, etc.

For example if a client mandates a variation/ change order to the original scope of work to be performed, the planned project execution will have to change to accommodate the variation and it might then be necessary to crash an activity (reduce the duration of a critical path activity) to accelerate the project schedule. This might be as a result of the variation’s delay on the start of a critical path activity. Consequently there’s a productivity impact on such a crashed activity and very importantly a direct cost impact given that the number of resources e.g. manhours required to complete the activity will now be greater.


So in this case, the variation costs to the project are not limited to the direct costs associated with the variation, but also indirect impacts to other activities.


Conclusion: productivity on a construction project is an important variable (with very important cost repercussions) that results from a number of factors and can change at any time over the duration of the project. Additionally variations/ change orders can have a productivity impact on other activities that would have remained unaffected otherwise.


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