Management was tracking labor hours and material costs on all the jobs, however many jobs were coming in over budget, and normally the overruns were related to labor costs. None of the estimates were shared with the people in the field. Management held end of job meetings to discuss what happened, however the situation never really improved on the next job.
What we did: We worked with management to develop a system that would track accurately the progress on 9 critical tasks on the jobs. The tracking system provided both management and the field supervisors with the ability to see the progress against estimate on each task on the job. The results were posted on a board clearly in the shop for all to see.
What we learned: By tracking the jobs closely and providing the information to the people in the field, the field people could see how they were progressing and make adjustments as the job progressed. In other words, the field people could now be part of the solution and participate in keeping the jobs on track.
What else we learned:People want to be on a winning team! Posting the results on the board in the shop gave the field people an opportunity to “keep score”. Each job team did not want to see another team operating under estimate, while their job ran over estimate. This internal competition kept everyone focused on the “score-board” every week and created some healthy internal competition. Since everyone wants to be a winner, the “score board” takes advantage of people’s natural instinct to want to win.
The results: Almost every job runs under estimate! The field people are more engaged in the success of each project and management has fewer worries about job performance. Problem jobs are discovered very early in the job, and the field people get management involved to help get the job under control.