Learn From Your Mistakes With Productive Job Debriefs
In my experience working with remodeling companies in the US and Canada, I find that, in many cases, all information learned in the process of completing a project is lost as soon as the job is finished.
The end-of-project debrief meeting, or as some call it, the “post-mortem,” can be a very effective tool for continual improvement, both in production and in sales as well.
Here are 6 things to consider when capturing vital project information as you grow your remodeling business.
1. Have a debrief meeting after every job
The big key here is to analyze every project, no matter how successful they may have been. Look at “the good, the bad and the ugly.” It is equally as important to learn what makes a job successful as one that went poorly and lost money, and a whole lot more fun! If your company goes through a period of time taking on many smaller jobs, you may have to pick and choose, but getting a good cross section is critical.
2. Involve the key players in the meeting
This would include the job site manager, Lead Carpenter or Project Manager, the estimator, and sales. By omitting any of these you lose a great deal of insight into what happened and why.
3. Share information beforehand & come prepared
A huge waste of everyone’s time is to have a meeting in which the participants are seeing the material for the first time. There is a great deal of time spent just reading through documents and figuring everything out. If everyone has a final job cost report, the client survey, perhaps an updated projected vs. actual schedule a week or two before the meeting, they can digest the information on their own and bring salient points to the table.
It is also very unproductive for one person to have the information and simply download their view point on everyone else at the meeting; share the information openly and with plenty of time to review.
4. If you mess up, you fess up
Do not allow your meeting to evolve into the “Blame Game”… many debrief meetings fail when the finger pointing starts. So, for example, a Project Manager can come to the table and admit that the reason that window installation did not hit the budget was poor planning on his or her part. Or the Estimator can discuss how he/she did not understand the complexity of the framing so they did not put enough money in that area on the quote.
This changes the discussion and progress toward improvement dramatically. So, encourage participants to come forward, but ask them to include steps that they, or the team, can take to eliminate the error going forward.
5. Pick one thing to change
It is counter-productive to discuss 20 errors or problems and then try and change them all. Usually it leads to no change at all. So, have each participant suggest the one thing they can work on to make the biggest impact on improving the business.
So, the PM mentioned above can say, “this is how I will specifically plan better for each phase of future projects.” Or, the Estimator can commit to improving the estimating process, so every aspect of a project is included in the proposal for the client.
6. Next steps; take notes and follow-up
Document process improvement commitments from the team and establish a tangible method to insure progress is really taking place. If you wait until the end of the next project it may be too late, or the same mistakes may happen and you are simply repeating the problem.
Need Help Getting Started?
If you don’t have a process in place to analyze jobs on a regular, ongoing basis… We’re here to help you get started! Click the button below to receive our FREE guide to establishing your own “post-mortem” process with this Job Autopsy Kit from our team here at Remodelers Advantage.