Industry Leaders Speak Out About Early Involvement
Before there is construction, there is a great deal of planning to be done. This planning process has been a collaboration of architects, engineering firms, construction managers, general contractors, and many more. The importance of integrating construction knowledge into the design process has long been recognized by the construction industry as a role of the construction manager. Once the project was ready to go, the general contractor would hire specialty contractors to help build the job. Rarely did these specialty contractors have a say in the planning process.
As the downturn of the economy approached in 2007/08, Faith Technologies’ leadership conducted a “Voice of the Customer” survey to our primary clients. The results of that survey showed a desire for the subcontractors to become more involved in the planning stages of a project. We listened, and immediately began creating a comprehensive preconstruction group that focused on early involvement. The group started with two individuals who laid the groundwork that today supports a staff of more than 130 preconstruction employees, including more than 60 electrical engineers.
With a focus on early involvement, we were able to shift our “get work” philosophy from plan-spec projects to design-build and design-assist roles. The benefits of early involvement quickly showed improved drawing quality, material supply, information flow, and consequently, improved construction schedule performance. In addition, a focal point of preconstruction has greatly improved efficiency, productivity, and most importantly, safety!
Branded “Smart Start,” we dedicated a team of estimators, designers, engineers, virtual construction experts, and detailers to partner directly with the architects, engineers, and detailers from all other trades to help identify any and all opportunities for efficiency. This approach has proven to bring the greatest value to the customer! The need to have a better understanding of the early contractor involvement process and its benefits can improve buy-in and help industry practitioners reach the full potential of this concept.
Today, over 60% of our jobs are design-build or design-assist, and use heavy involvement with our preconstruction group. This statistic serves as evidence of the future of our business. Having great customers is notable, but taking time to listen to them is ultimately important and beneficial.