Document Detail

Title: RR261-11 - Owner and Contractor Job Site Organizations
Publication Date: 2/1/2012
Product Type: Research Report
Status: Reference
Pages: 126
O'Connor, Wang, Goldin, The Univ. of Texas at Austin
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Job site management functions and associated staffing levels among both Owners and Contractors have increased in number and complexity over the past 30 years in response to the demands for greater levels of job site planning, resource management, and performance oversight. However, there is little published guidance or clarity on job site organization metrics or approaches. The primary purpose of this research was to identify and describe industry norms pertaining to Owner and Contractor job site organizational functions and staffing levels, especially those that provide the best value for different types of projects under different circumstances.

This is the first job site organization benchmarking study of its kind. The study targeted recent industrial projects with total installed cost between $50 million and $800 million. The study examined thirty-one projects under construction over the last two years in terms of job site organization parameters, project characteristics, execution parameters, and project success parameters. Benchmark metrics derived from this research pertain to Owner and Contractor job site organization size and constituent roles. Organization size is reported and analyzed in terms of both staff full-time equivalent (FTE) and craft-to-staff ratio (CSR).

For the sample of projects examined, job site organization team sizes and CSR metrics vary significantly. These values range from three to 69 FTE for Owners and from five to 143 FTE for Contractors. The mean Craft-to-Staff ratio for Owners is 13.0 and 4.3 for Contractor teams. From an FTE perspective, Petro-chemical projects have the largest Owner teams, while Construction-only projects have the smallest Owner teams. EPC/Design-build projects have the largest Contractor teams, while Construction-only projects have the smallest Contractor teams.

High CSR values translate to smaller job site management teams. Power utility and Construction-only projects have the largest Owner CSR values, while Cost-reimbursable and EPC/Design-build projects have the smallest Owner CSR values. Lump sum projects have the largest Contractor CSR values, while Petro-chemical, Power utility, and EPC/Design-build projects have the smallest Contractor CSR values. CSR variability is quite large for Owners, but much less so for Contractors. Regression analyses indicate strong correlations between Contractor staff size (FTE) and either Project capital cost or Construction craft work hours.

The sampled projects suggest that there are six core job site organization roles with FTE > 1.0 for Owners, and 16 such roles for Contractors. Owner job site staffs are dominated by the management functions of quality, coordination, and commissioning; while Contractor job site staffs are dominated by the functions of field engineering, quality, materials management, safety, craft superintendents, procurement/supplier coordination, and area superintendents. Staff support for the four Contractor roles of area superintendent, craft superintendent, HSE management, and QA/QC management are generally scalable—or correlated with project size.

Two-thirds of the projects examined entail the outsourcing of job site staff functions by Owners, and this approach appears to be a growing trend. The amount of outsourcing for these projects ranged from seven percent to 92 percent. Contractor project managers have a mixed opinion on their level of satisfaction with outsourced Owner staff.

Projects with larger Owner and Contractor job site staffs appear to be safer than those projects with smaller staffs. Both Owners and Contractors should ensure that their management staffs are sufficient to promote worker safety.

Association trends have been analyzed for those projects that perform better-than-average with smaller-than-average job site teams. Success-enabling factors appear to be trust growth between Owner and Contractor, thoroughness of definition of team roles, higher quality of technical documents, thoroughness of change management, thoroughness of start-up planning, thoroughness of constructability planning, and thoroughness of front-end planning, among others. Thus, there appear to be links between team effectiveness and implementation of CII best practices.

It is believed that job site organization approach can play a key role in helping achieve project success—at a time when there’s little tolerance for underperformance. Thus, it is important to understand both quantitative and qualitative dimensions of job site organizations and their links with project performance.