fi en
Improving construction flow

Improving production flow in construction

Author: Eetu Heiska
Published: 24.3.2023

The core theme in industrial construction is the enormous potential that faster throughput times unlock. Cutting days or weeks from a project’s throughput time directly impacts the bottom line. The cost for a single day of delay at a construction site starts at a few thousand euros, and ranges to the tens of thousands. Additionally, reduced throughput times allow for higher revenues, as more projects can be completed in the same amount of time with equal resources.

These financial principles lay the groundwork for industrial construction – such as our Interior Factory concept, which condenses the interior phase of a residential project from months to 2–4 weeks.

Unsurprisingly, there are risks associated with bringing sophisticated and vulnerable industrial construction processes to the contemporary job site. Success in construction that is product-driven, high TAKT, and logistically Just-in-Time necessitates a multi-step journey towards increased construction maturity.

Organizations need a deep commitment to the basics of this journey. The basics start with Flow.


As a key concept in Lean and TAKT production, flow guides us towards a way of work preparation that results in minimal deviations. In essence, this means that work is intentionally limited to a speed where it remains free of stoppages and interruptions. The rate of work may only be increased if the increase doesn’t lead to further stoppages and interruptions.

The cars leave the intersection slowly and in a jerky stop-and-go motion. This pattern of movement is comparable to the pattern of work in resource use-optimized contemporary construction. If all cars had agreed to accelerate at the same time, with a similar rate of acceleration, and without interruptions, the number of cars passing the intersection per light change would increase significantly.

The planning and managing of production flow in construction works the same way – work moves together, and at the right pace. This results in optimized project flow, reducing throughput time and subsequently improving the bottom line of the project and the revenue potential of the firm.

Once a firm understands the fundamentals of flow, and its financial potential, they can start the process of moving towards high-flow industrial construction.

Step 1: Standardize the scheduling process.

Scheduling acts as the common starting point for all construction management: Each site must be managed at the same pace, and at the same level of detail. This state must be achieved before work itself is optimized, as standardized scheduling lays the groundwork for the minimal buffers and increasingly granular timing that higher-flow processes depend on.

Standardized scheduling connects all parties to a common and standardized view of time, resulting in improved project visibility and comparability. A site without standardized scheduling is left at the mercy of surprise setbacks and write-offs due to weak, subjective, and often contradictory situational awareness.

Further, the optimization of project portfolios remains a challenge if projects are managed with
incomparable methods (e.g., unstandardized structures, roles, responsibilities, planning, management frequencies).

Finally, a standardized way of scheduling strengthens organizational capital by defining an “our way”, reducing key person dependency and recruitment risks.

The standardization of processes doesn’t require thousands of consulting hours spent on countless unused process charts. Standardization must happen in stages through manageable, bite-sized pieces.

SiteDrive has productized the industry best practices in standardized scheduling into an approachable transformation path. Implementing better scheduling through costly boutique solutions or in-house trial and error is no longer necessary.

Once a specific and standardized way of scheduling is formed, an expectation of its use must be
communicated across the board.

Step 2: Take control of the scheduling process

Company guidelines for scheduling are rarely followed or enforced. The reason is simple: The
implementation of a standard process is difficult. Even though weekly iterative planning is recognized as a high-value processes, very few sites manage to stick to the process, or even attempt it.

A standardized process is a measurable process. A measurable process, in turn, changes the process into something that can be managed, and even lead.

SiteDrive has designed key metrics for a standardized weekly scheduling process. The indicators follow the daily and weekly steps required.

These metrics not only create shared expectations and increased visibility but also turn an extremely complex entity of scheduling maturity into defined, concrete, and understandable actions.

The jump from monthly subjective construction to daily digital management is too large to be achieved in a single step. The distance must be bridged with metric-tracked incremental maturity steps. Metrics turn a single enormous maturity leap into manageable pieces tackled one by one – bringing visibility and manageability to the improvement of scheduling maturity.

Maturity tracking via multiple metrics is also important due to the high variations in maturity between individual construction crews. Multiple metrics allow firms to determine and solve maturity bottlenecks with targeted support at a crew-by-crew basis.

Step 3: Improve the cadence of management

Once scheduling is standardized, attention can be turned towards flow itself. How is thinking shifted from resource optimization towards the optimization of project throughput time?

Currently most projects are managed at a monthly, bi-weekly or weekly cadence. This means that work is planned in weekly blocks, meetings between different stakeholders are held either monthly or weekly, and progress is checked weekly. Most importantly, shared information such as schedules and quality control results are recorded monthly or weekly – and often on paper! A lot can happen in a week, especially if work is completed in information silos that lack shared progress updates.

Improved cadence management eases the shift towards a focus on throughput time. A move from monthly planning and follow-ups to weekly, and then daily production management is a major step for improved flow.

However, forms of daily management such as short huddles, up-to-date schedules and increased time atlocation are often met with resistance at the site – and for a good reason! Contemporary construction sites lack the key capabilities for better flow. These are:

  1. Production management expertise. Is there an understanding of why there is a focus on project flow instead of resource optimization? Is there knowledge of how production flow is managed?
  2. Top management buy in. Today’s thinking is at odds with the time-usage and decisions needed for improved flow. Top management must commit to incentivizing and guiding personnel towards flow-oriented work. Improved flow is a strategic decision.
  3. The right tools. Improving the cadence of management is near-impossible without easy-to-use digital management tools. Better flow requires a shift from digital bookkeeping (managing the site conventionally, manually updating progress to digital systems) to digital management (management leaves digital imprints).
  4. A standardized scheduling process.

In conclusion

Improved production flow is an approachable, high-value transformation journey.

It is vital to take the right steps in the right order:

Begin with the foundation: Scheduling. Start generating usable, comparable data, start managing the process and finally increase the cadence of management. Once the foundation is in place, you can start thinking about moving towards industrial construction. Processes such as Just-in-Time logistics, standardized building product management, integrated quality- and safety processes all rely on up to date, reliable schedules, and schedule data. In fact, the timing and location of tasks is the single dimension that connects all construction yard processes together.

At SiteDrive we don’t just provide the steps and the tools. Our expertise lies in transforming the operating models of construction companies, whatever it takes: From management coaching, change management, operating- and management model design to a flurry of available industry best practices.

We make technology, but construction is deep in our DNA.

New eyes on construction I’m a recent new comer to the construction sector. I’ve only been working in the Read more
VLOG: Lean Construction Congress 2022 The Lean Construction Congress (LCC) held in Dipoli, Espoo 20.-21.9.2022, brought together construction industry professionals Read more
Industrial Construction begins with the Specification of the Product High productivity can be achieved today on construction sites. Learn below how you can improve Read more