Navigating Multi-Contractor Worksites- Effective Planning Strategies

Navigating Multi-Contractor Worksites- Effective Planning Strategies

One of the more challenging aspects of working on Federal Construction Projects can be the numerous challenges associated with working around other contractors and trades.  Multi-contractor worksites present unique challenges in terms of coordination, communication and workplace safety.  As the complexity of the project increases, so does the need for effective management strategies in an effort to ensure that all parties work together seamlessly.  A lack of coordination and planning efforts can wreak havoc on project deadlines and has the potential to greatly affect the overall profitability of your project.

Here at GovGig, we specialize in Federal Contract Management and have the expertise and knowledge to guide your team as you work to build a successful project.  Consider the following key management techniques when working on multi-contractor sites:

  1. Planning and Pre-Construction Coordination-  Prior to the commencement of work, it is crucial for overall project health that a comprehensive plan is developed which outlines the roles and responsibilities of each contractor.  At minimum, this plan should include:
  2. Scope of work for each contractor
  1. Detailed sequence of activities
  2. Project milestones and deadlines
  3. Communication protocols
  4. Conflict resolution mechanisms

During the pre-construction phase, a coordination meeting should be held with all contractors to discuss the project plan, discuss expectations, and to address any concerns, challenges or issues.  This meeting will set the stage for overall project communication and collaboration throughout the project’s life cycle.

  1. Scheduling and Sequencing- Create a detailed master schedule as this is necessary for ensuring smooth and streamlined operations.  The schedule should include all project activities, deadlines and dependencies allowing for easy identification of critical paths and potential bottlenecks.  Careful sequencing should occur to minimize overlaps between contractors and to avoid conflicts and delays.  (As an example, electrical and plumbing should be scheduled prior to drywall installation.)  The schedule should be updated regularly, and changes communicated to all involved parties.  Reach out to us should you need assistance developing a detailed project schedule.

To avoid conflicts and delays between contractors, regular, weekly planning meetings should also be held.  These meetings serve as an essential tool in managing the various aspects of a project, fostering collaboration among team members, and maintaining progress towards completion.  Weekly meetings enhance coordination and collaboration, allow for companies to monitor progress, allow for effective resource allocation and scheduling, and help to maintain clear communication channels among contractors.

  1. Safety and Compliance- In the world of Federal Construction, workplace safety is a vital requirement for doing business.  Without proper planning and coordination, multi-contractor worksites have the potential to pose significant challenges in maintaining a safe and compliant worksite.  As such, it is essential that expectations are established at the pre-construction phase and throughout the life of the project and that work is effectively planned by each contractor with safety in mind.  Below are a few of the multitude of safety requirements that you will be expected to follow working in the federal construction arena:
  2. Safety planning is required through submittal of a comprehensive Accident Prevention Plan (APP) and Activity Hazard Analysis (AHA) for each Definable Feature of Work (DFOW).  These processes allow for the contractor to identify risk associated with each phase of the project and implement controls to manage these risks.  The AHA tool must be used by all contractors and must cover their specific scope.  When utilized effectively, this can be a valuable tool towards ensuring for a compliant, and more importantly, a safe worksite.
  3. Verify that required safety training has been conducted and ensure that workers are qualified to perform their respective jobs.  Should your company hire subcontractors, it will be your responsibility to ensure that subcontract employees meet the project training requirements prior to beginning work.  Safety training can be provided through a variety of methods including online coursework, hands-on training, or even through weekly safety meetings and toolbox talks.  Weekly safety meetings must be held by the project SSHO and are designed to “review past activities, review pertinent aspects of AHA (by trade), establish safe working procedures for anticipated hazards, and provider pertinent SOH training and motivation.” (See EM 385 1-1 01.B.05)
  1. Perform frequent documented safety inspections/audits (01.A.13.A) and ensure strict compliance with Federal safety requirements.  NOTE: These inspections, including their findings, must be documented in writing and available upon request to the Government Designated Authority.  Follow-up actions including action, timetable and responsibilities must also be included within this report.  
  2. Evaluation of Performance- Throughout the project duration, it is essential that contractor performance continue to be evaluated.  These evaluations are crucial for maintaining accountability and for correcting  potential issues before they escalate.  Implement processes for tracking key performance (KPI) such as schedule adherence, quality of work, and safety compliance.  Hold periodic progress meetings to review performance, discuss changes, and identify areas for improvement.

Multi-contractor worksites can pose a variety of challenges for both the general contractor managing the work as well as for individual contractors supporting the project.  As challenging as this can be, utilizing effective planning strategies will allow you to schedule, manage and execute for success.  Ultimately, effective planning is the cornerstone of any successful project.   As you work to develop these effective processes, a culture of continuous improvement, open communication and collaboration will drive your project to new heights.

Please reach out to us here at GovGig if you would like to learn more about these processes or if you would like assistance developing successful processes on your upcoming project.

Cory J. Grimmer, CSP, CHST