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22R-01: Direct Labor Productivity Measurement – As Applied in Construction and Major Maintenance Projects

22R-01: Direct Labor Productivity Measurement – As Applied in Construction and Major Maintenance Projects
AACE International, April 26, 2004

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This recommended practice of AACE International describes a direct method to measure, monitor and optimize construction and maintenance project labor productivity. The method described is statistical sampling of the work process, or: work sampling. The work process is made up of steps and activities that take input resources, add value, and produce the completed project. Understanding the capability of the process, or ‘management system,’ to produce efficiently is important for project planning and control. Sampling is a cost-effective way to provide information about the performance of the work process, i.e., about ‘how’ the work is done, and how to do it better. Work sampling complements conventional project management methodology, which typically tracks ‘what’ work is done.

Sampling provides project managers, supervisors, and the workforce with objective feedback re: the efficiency of the work process (not of individual workers, which is part of the foreman’s job) – and the ability to respond quickly to adjust. In addition, it provides a measure of management’s ability to effectively plan, coordinate, and control project execution. Analysis of the sampling data allows for prompt removal or reduction of roadblocks, optimizing the construction work process through redesign and innovation. Streamlining the work process ensures that performing productive work is made more convenient for the workforce, ensuring that, at all times, crafts and technicians have all the necessary tools, materials, parts, supplies, information, supervisory support and personal needs readily available. Work sampling, properly applied, recognizes that productivity results from an optimal work process, i.e., from ‘managing smarter,’ not from people working harder.

Construction labor productivity is a measure of work process efficiency. It can be defined as the ratio of the value labor produces to the value invested in labor. Productivity increases as needed labor resources are minimized and wasted efforts eliminated from the work process. This definition and the practice covered here treats productivity as a direct, absolute measure to be optimized.

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