Bringing clarity to chaos


To do list

Yesterday, I was doing some work on the concrete floor of the new office we're about to move into, just a short walk from our current HQ. The whole place is getting refurbished before we move in and I volunteered to repair the floor myself.

So, I'm working away and the painter starts asking me which bits he has to paint. I'm as helpful as I can be, but I end up calling the landlord, since he's the client footing the bill. There's a lot of back and forth and misunderstandings and I'm thinking: "Well, this is typical". When you've got lots of little things to do then something always gets messed up and misunderstood.

But hang on... this stuff isn't rocket science. Isn't this why writing was invented? We have way more complexities with even the smallest software project here at MyBuilder and our stuff runs like clockwork. So, being an office jockey now, I had this amazingly innovative idea: why not write it down?

Yeah, you might have written it down for the contractor, but that's not enough. You could simply type up the whole scope of the project in clear, plain English, print out a few copies on a single sheet of A4 with a nice big font and tape them to the windows. And when stuff is done, it can just be marked off on the page for everyone to see. Simple clarity.

In my years of working on building sites it seems that it was often miscommunication that caused disputes, errors or just disappointed clients. This simple, cheap project management solution could save a lot of unnecessary phone calls between the client and the various contractors, stop arguments about who is supposed to be doing what, when, and provide a clear route map for what is still to be done. What's not to like?

8 Comments

  1. This is the job of a project manager/site foreman or just the main contractor. This has been the way for many years and works fine. There is one point of contact for the client and the workforce.

    Darren Read, Projects Manager

  2. sticking A4 on the windows?? yeh, ask the private client whether he wants the hassle of the project manager duties what your landlord did, let's not reinvent the invented years ago

  3. I think you are correct. Every day at 8.00 I instruct the men and we still have problems. Why wait until the paint has run out before calling me?

  4. What you have just described is pretty much your Method Statement and should be in place already on site. It is compulsory on most sites. I write one for most of my jobs, even the small ones for the health and safety file.

  5. worked this way all the time i always ask client to write list and we work through it crossing off each job when completed

  6. I tend to use dropbox so file/drawings etc can be seen and if any changes occur they are clear for all to see. On site there is a daily work schedule and as jobs are done they are ticked off. Poor communication and disorganisation will always lead to disputes.

  7. the "plain english" part made me chuckle. half the builders i meet on site nowadays cannot even speak it!

  8. how true I always say to everyone write it down cos what cant speak cant lie we get many variations on our jobs with clients living as far away as new zealand with properties in the uk simple communication by e mail backed up with photos always works for us

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