The Construction Industry Institute considers productivity to be such a complex challenge that the group allotted six years, rather than the usual two, for its research team to study the issue. Daniel D. Christian, a veteran of three other research projects, stepped up to chair the team. "So many people wanted to work on this subject that we had to decline some volunteers to keep the team a manageable size," Christian says.
During the study, the team documented statistically valid best practices that improve productivity and gathered them into CII's "Construction Productivity Handbook," along with a large body of other research already done on the subject. "There was no magic wand," Christian says. "The handbook provides an independent method of cost control that can help contractors improve productivity."
Christian is director of the oil, gas, chemical and power markets for Victaulic, a piping-systems solutions provider; based in Dubai, he leads Victaulic Europe, Middle East, India and Africa. In addition to his previous work for CII, he brought experience to the team from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, where he serves on various code committees. Christian knew that innovations are out there to improve productivity because Victaulic does just that, providing grooved mechanical joining systems that help compress construction schedules.
Paul Goodrum, a professor of construction engineering at the University of Colorado and principal investigator for the team, says there was an "epiphany" when the team realized the industry knows about productivity best practices but doesn't implement them consistently. "There was no road map for a project team to follow," he says. The handbook provides one that has been "well validated," adds Carl Haas, a professor at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and a senior investigator on the team. The handbook is available for purchase on the CII website for $205.
William R. Boyd, general manager of project and planning services for The Southern Co. and team co-chairman, says using the handbook can help owners address skilled-labor shortages because more can be done with fewer work hours. "We have seen productivity double when work is planned and done properly," Boyd adds. Boyd credits Christian with bringing so many people together and "keeping us focused on our deliverables." Observes Haas, "It was a huge commitment. Dan kept everybody active. He was a great facilitator of productivity."