2020 has been an absolute rollercoaster of a year. The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced general contractors to reevaluate their core processes and trends around shifting and managing resources, remote work, social distancing, and challenges with supply chain management have emerged. We’re also seeing a significant drop in non-residential building starts, whereas residential starts are steadily increasing.
With worker safety and working remotely becoming paramount in the construction industry, many general contractors are looking to construction software and technology to help fill any gaps brought on by the pandemic headed into 2021.
Resource management and workforce planning is front and center for general contractors that are looking to streamline their project allocation management in response to a disruptive year for the industry – understandably so. The increase in project delays and the need to keep your workforce productivity high can be an incredibly tedious task if you’re trapped in a series of spreadsheets for hours on end trying to keep up with the ever-changing environment.
In this article we’ll explore some of the many benefits that come along with embracing the digital transformation of your resource management and making the upgrade to an automated software built specifically to handle the current challenges being faced by the industry.
4 Benefits of automating your resource planning
1. Worker safety
Let’s start with the most important focus for most general contractors headed into 2021 – managing and maintaining the safety of your workforce. The best way for any leadership or human resources team to stay on top of maintaining worker safety is with information. Information that is readily available and easily accessible when decisions need to be made.
Resource planning tools built for the construction industry, like Bridgit Bench, were designed to surface relevant information when managing resources. Part of that includes the ability to customize the software to track data relevant to your workforce and organization, which can (and should) include, but is not limited to:
Exposure risk levels for team members and job sites
Quarantined and symptomatic team members
Furloughed team members
Essential vs non-essential projects
There’s no such thing as “overkill” when it comes to ensuring the safety of your workforce. Every step should be taken. As cases are still on the rise, the ability to stay ahead of any potential outbreaks as an organization can be the difference between projects being shut down, delayed, or most importantly – a potential outbreak that puts your team at risk. Read this article to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on resource management in the construction industry.
2. Remote work
Making the adjustment to remote-work environments has put a lot of pressure on general contractors that are yet to invest in communication, video conferencing, and most importantly – cloud-based project and resource management tools.
One of the main benefits of digitizing your resource management is accessibility. With a push to make project planning a more collaborative effort over recent years, one of the questions that has been raised is “how do I securely provide my team access to our decision-making data?”. Add to that the challenge of providing that access to team members that may be working remotely, and it becomes even more complicated.
That’s where automated resource planning tools come in. With controls over permissions for users, resource management software allows you to include your larger team without risking unwanted changes. This helps to not only provide your team access when working remotely, but also centralizes your project and workforce data to ensure everyone is looking at the same information and are on the same page regarding your resource strategy.
Tip: You can use your resource management tool as the control center for your manpower meetings. The software allows you to easily share information with your team that is either present in the meeting room, or using video conferencing tools while working remotely. For more information about video conferencing tools, read this article.
3. Insight into workforce utilization
Your workforce utilization rate is one of the most important metrics you should be constantly aware of and working to improve heading into 2021. Generally, there isn’t a standard, unified way that every industry calculates their utilization, but every company should work to define their resource planning strategy, and how company and individual utilization rates will play into that strategy. As a rough definition – when eliminating different industry-specific factors that are sometimes included in the calculation – utilization rates in construction are often defined as:
The amount of time your team spends working on projects vs. the total amount of time that employee is available to work. In short, what is the billing efficiency of your team?
To accurately calculate your team’s utilization rate, you first need to accurately track their time. Construction workforce planning tools like Bridgit Bench not only help to track your team’s time using simple project allocation percentages, but also can directly calculate your utilization rate based on specific titles, division, and regions.
Having insight into your workforce utilization rates can be an absolute game-changer when industry-wide uncertainty persists and firms are needing to better understand their team’s productivity and profitability.
If you’re interested in learning more about workforce management, check out our guide to construction workforce management.
Forecasting is more than looking ahead at your project timeline – it’s about staying ahead of your project timeline and better understanding the resource demand on your organization from your different projects. Construction projects are won or lost in the planning phase and the same can be said for your overall organizational strategies.
Resource management tools that provide the ability to look ahead and analyze your project pipeline and respective resource demands will be one of the ways general contractors are setting themselves up for success in 2021. Tools like Bridgit Bench can help to make your company’s future more predictable and give you more time to plan ahead should issues surface. On top of that, construction resource planning tools with the ability to forecast your workforce demands will allow you to:
Identify opportunities to take on new projects
Identify underutilized resources
Understand the impact when projects get pushed or delayed
Understand the impact of your project pursuits on your resource strategy
Stay ahead of, and make informed decisions around recruitment strategies
Bridgit Bench is the leading resource management and workforce planning tool built specifically to handle the ever-changing environment of the construction industry. With insight into workforce utilization, forecasting, and customizations to fit your company needs, Bridgit Bench can help provide a competitive advantage in a highly-competitive market filled with uncertainty headed into 2021.
Lauren Lake is the COO and co-founder at Bridgit. She holds a degree in Civil Structural Engineering and is well-versed in construction workforce management and resource planning processes. Lauren has been named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30 and Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators lists. Lauren has presented at industry events and conferences, including BuiltWorlds, Canadian Construction Association, Procore Groundbreak, and more. Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram.