How to Create Effective Feedback Loops that Improve Project Performance

August 5, 2021 | Joe Earhart

A common question I hear from clients after the notice to proceed is, “What is your communication plan for this project; the construction management firm on our last project really struggled in this area.

While there are many approaches a CM may take, feedback loops implemented as part of construction project kick-offs nearly always guarantee improved team communication and overall project performance. For the best outcome one must understand who, when, and how to ask for feedback.

First, establish feedback loops with your CM team members, as well as with each of the parties involved in the design and construction of the project. That includes one between yourself and the client/organization that you are executing the project for, another established with the A/E firms designing the various aspects of the project, and another with the General Contractor building the project.

Checking in with each party frequently to get their feedback on the project, as well as reviewing other metrics such as cost, scope, and schedule is a good way to ensure you are serving that party in the way you should be. Each round of feedback will get you closer to the target that you are trying to reach and allows for an avenue for you to provide feedback to that party as well.

Feedback is best given and received from a neutral, mission-centered place. Even on the best run projects challenges will be encountered and tensions will rise. In those instances, clearly identify the concerns, work together to quickly develop a solution, and keep meeting records for lessons learned. The more often this is done, the more alignment each party will have and the project and future efforts will be all the better for it.

A Feedback Loop Coupled with Action = Solutions

On a particularly complex Class-A multi-story building located in downtown Washington DC, my Owner shared they were concerned about the status of the project close-out. I then took that information, reviewed the schedule, and discovered that ineffective use of the punch-list software was creating both delays and confusion about the close-out responsibilities.

I next gave feedback to the Architect on how to improve the punch-list process and coached them and the GC through the implementation of the streamlined method. The course-correction saved the client both time and money leading to positive feedback from the clients and stakeholders in the follow-up meeting.

By packaging my feedback with a potential solution, instead of only identifying the pain-points and leaving it up to others to resolve, my feedback was better received by the Architect and Client and went into action nearly immediately.

Feedback implemented early and throughout a project allows for a measurable and targeted way for the CM to facilitate continuous project improvement, resulting in a collaborative and successful team, and project.

About the Authors

Joe Earhart, CMIT, CQM,

is currently serving as a Project Manager on AFG's Quality Assurance Program at NIH, working directly with the client to ensure that their complex construction program is running smoothly. Joe has a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, with minors in Biomedical Engineering and Integrated Design. Joe is a graduate of the 2020 Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) DC/Northern Virginia/Mid-Maryland Leadership & Mentoring Program, a prestigious program for emerging leaders.

About AFG Group, Inc.

AFG Group, Inc. is a woman-­owned firm focused on multi-­disciplined program, construction, and relocation management, with a national portfolio of work in healthcare, laboratories, courthouses, educational facilities, and government buildings. With 30 years of business acumen, AFG has earned a reputation for providing strong expertise, responsiveness, and project execution that helps owners navigate through complex design, procurement, construction, and activation processes.