Document Detail

Title: RS252-1b - Construction Productivity Research Program -- Phase III
Publication Date: 9/1/2011
Product Type: Research Summary
Status: Supporting Product
Pages: 55
Describes the third phase of the RT-252 productivity research program. Continues the team's analyses of the CII Benchmarking & Metrics data, introduces productivity innovations in the concrete trade, and further develops the Best Productivity Practice Implementation Index (BPPII).
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Industry’s longstanding concern about construction productivity has only been complicated by the difficulty of measuring it. Indeed, its resistance to measurement has made construction productivity something of a final frontier for project management research. Because promoting significant improvements in construction productivity is such a complex challenge, CII took an unusual approach to meeting it. In 2007, CII formed Research Team (RT) 252, Construction Productivity Research Program, with the primary objective of identifying and validating one or more initiatives, techniques, or methods that, if implemented, would result in a breakthrough improvement in construction productivity. This research summary represents the most recent phase of the RT 252 journey to improve construction productivity. The team has charted new directions for the industry by producing implementation resources that can increase craft wrench time, reduce rework, and reduce the number of hours required to complete one unit of work.

From its inception, the members of the team grasped that there is no single approach to improving productivity. Instead, they found that a multitude of techniques and methods for improving productivity are used throughout industry, usually in isolation. To counter this fragmented implementation, they decided on an approach that would identify and synthesize these techniques and methods into a cohesive roadmap. The intent is to offer a coherent overview of productivity improvement tools to help develop sustained improvements in construction productivity—at least among the companies that use it.

This research summary describes the third phase of the RT 252 research program. In this third phase, the team continued its focus on analyses of the CII Benchmarking & Metrics data, again introduced productivity innovations, and further developed the Best Productivity Practice Implementation Index (BPPII). The publications from the previous phases are the following:

Phase I

  • Research Summary (RS) 252-1, Craft Productivity Program – Phase I
  • Implementation Resource (IR) 252-2, Innovations in Mechanical Construction Productivity


Phase II

  • RS 252-1a, Construction Productivity Research Program – Phase II
  • IR 252-2a, Guide to Activity Analysis


Readers will no doubt have noticed that the program’s name has changed from the Craft Productivity Program to the Construction Productivity Program. While the original team charter focused exclusively on improving craft workers’ direct work rates, the team quickly recognized the need to expand the program beyond the craft worker. Thus, the team revised its charter so that, beyond its original focus on improving direct work rates, it also aims to find innovations that reduce the number of work hours required to complete one unit of work, develop methods to reduce rework, and create the Best Productivity Practice Implementation Index as a comprehensive productivity improvement roadmap.

Analysis of the CII Benchmarking and Metrics (BM&M) data in this phase of the program found relationships between certain management practices and productivity in the concrete trades. The results indicate that projects with a high level of implementation of safety programs, integration of information systems, materials management systems, team-building, front end planning, constructability, and change management experienced better labor productivity in the concrete trades. These findings suggest an overall level of synergy with the practices that were found to be related to better productivity in the mechanical and electrical trades, as reported in previous phases.

This year, the team investigated innovations that are both unique to the concrete trades and have an impact across multiple trades. These concrete-specific innovations included case studies on the use of modular formwork, self-consolidating concrete, and 100 ksi steel reinforcement. The case studies include quantitative analyses, but also valuable lessons learned about when and how companies use these innovative approaches to concrete on projects. The findings from the concrete innovation case studies were as follows:

  • For the design of a concrete beam, less tonnage of 100 ksi steel reinforcement is required than of 60 ksi steel reinforcement; however, the added material costs of using 100 ksi has to be considered to determine if it is a viable productivity alternative.
  • While self-consolidating concrete can offer faster placement rates, especially for wall sections, lessons learned from jobsites indicate that the added costs in the required formwork should also be considered.
  • The potential gains from using modular formwork greatly depend on the number of cycles during which modular systems are used on a project.


During this phase of the program, RT 252 also focused on developing IR 252-2b, A Guide to Construction Rework Reduction. This guide addresses the unfortunate industry reality that rework typically costs between 2 percent and 20 percent of a project’s contract amount. Reducing rework labor hours translates directly into improved labor productivity. Efforts to reduce rework are often impeded by a perception that rework is due to forces beyond the control of the contractor, by the failure to implement a rework reduction program (RRP), and by disincentives to report rework when an RRP is deployed. RT 252 developed its Guide to Construction Rework Reduction as a cross-disciplinary document that provides the following guidance on these issues: 1) explains how to deploy a rework reduction program, 2) provides a top-ten list of rework reduction ideas, and 3) suggests an innovative approach to incentivizing rework reporting.

A navigational aide is critical to any long-term journey, especially one with the end point of improved construction productivity. The BPPII is designed to identify the critical navigational waypoints that a project should reach in order to efficiently maximize its productivity. In Phase III, RT 252 focused on launching the validation efforts of the BPPII. While some initial results of these efforts are reported here, the final results will likely change in Phases IV and V, as more projects are included in the validation effort. To move towards this goal, RT 252 is actively recruiting new projects to participate in the BPPII validation. More results of this effort will be presented in the subsequent phases of the RT 252 research program.