Mission control at Mark IV Builders is the production board, a visual representation of all current projects, their supervisors, their schedules and status, and their current to-do items.

The master production board sits in the main hallway of our office, but most of the information for individual projects is also posted in other places, including on the jobsites. As a result, clients arrive at weekly meetings with their checks already written. They know when payments are due because this information is posted right in their homes!

Yellow highlighting indicates that the task is completed. Here's what you'll find on the production board:

  • Photo of supervisor (Mark IV's title for project manager). Photos keep it personal and make supervisors feel more accountable for their jobs.
  • Supervisor's DISC profile. We do DISC profiling for all staff. (DISC is a kind of personal profiling system that shows people's adaptive and natural behavioral styles; the acronym stands for dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness.) This summary helps other staff understand how best to communicate with each person.
  • Two-week schedule. This provides a day-by-day summary of what has to be done and who has to be where on every project. It's a detailed slice of the master schedule, but we update it at biweekly production meetings as well as between meetings (each super is responsible for keeping his schedule current). Before those meetings, each super jots down his “must-have” items, sharing them along with information about available crew or anything Yellow highlighting indicates that the task is completed. else he can do to help out.
  • Master schedule. This is the strategic, long-range schedule for each project. It lists every major milestone, from the date we applied for permits to client payments/decisions to the target completion date. The supervisor highlights items as they're completed, showing how the job is progressing.
  • Target completion date. This never changes, even if the weather and other factors don't cooperate. The goal is for each supervisor to structure his projects to be successful.
  • Project photos. These are just a nice way for the entire staff to quickly see what we're building.

After a project is completed, all of this information is stored in the job file. If needed, we could go back and rebuild it. If nothing else, having it on file provides another level of protection and documentation of what happened when, and who did it.
—Andy Hannan is the production manager of Mark IV Builders, Bethesda, Md.