Understanding Process Risks

Good superintendents talk to their people about not just what they are doing each day, but how they intend to do it. That’s because working safely, efficiently and delivering quality is about the process…not just the end result.

A few days ago, our support team spoke to a project team member wanting to circumvent a key process in their project management software. Apparently, missing was a clear understanding of the risk being introduced by creating a contracting shortcut and that really got me thinking about all the ways things could go wrong on a construction project.

Above all, we view commercial contractors as risk managers. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when competitive pressure draws our attention to cost and productivity. As contractors, it’s our job to deliver efficiently, but we must also draw the line for safety and quality, as well. The best way to balance all three is to focus on the process — “how” things get done is as important as “what” gets done.

So did this person do anything wrong? I don’t think so. This was a clearly committed and loyal employee who is stressed out and stretched thin. The truth is that it was a lack of awareness. Let’s face it, what are the odds that something will fall on your head when walking on a job site with nobody working? Would you still walk the job site without a hard hat? Why not?

I believe process risk is not all that different, it requires educating your team about the risks you take as individuals, as a business owner or as a company when you take on a job. It requires understanding that your role as a contractor is all about owning risk and minimizing it to the largest extent possible.

Construction is hard work, the risks are high (higher than most realize) and sometimes all that stands between you and a huge loss or possible bankruptcy is your ability to trust the processes that keep your team safe and productive.

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