6 Labor planning tools every construction professional should be aware of

6 Labor planning tools every construction professional should be aware of

Not all construction labor planning tools are created equal. In this post, we’ll look at a few examples that shine above the rest and have become staples of the industry.

First, let’s discuss what these tools are in the first place.

What are construction labor planning tools?

Labor planning tools help companies schedule and track their employees. 

This is especially important in construction given that workers tend to be spread out across numerous job sites. Projects also typically require specific skills, licensing, and other forms of human capital, necessitating very careful scheduling.

Without construction labor planning tools, this would be a logistical nightmare.

Thankfully, these tools have existed since the dawn of good construction management. They’ve improved considerably with the times, going from analog to digital, cloud-based platforms.

In this article, we’ll look at these prominent labor planning tools:

  • Bridgit Bench
  • The performance-potential matrix
  • Compensation and benefit analysis
  • Gantt charts
  • Scenario planning
  • Workforce modeling

6 essential construction labor planning tools

#1. Bridgit Bench

Bridgit Bench is our acclaimed workforce management program designed specifically for construction. It helps professionals in the space allocate resources effectively and clearly visualize how scheduling decisions will affect project outcomes.

Bridgit Bench is used by general contractors and subcontractors alike. For a closer look at how this labor planning tool streamlines the process for construction professionals, check out our case studies here.

#2. The performance-potential matrix

The performance-potential matrix (also known as the nine-box grid) is a tool you can use to plot talent’s progression within your organization. It’s also very useful for succession planning.

To use the tool, map your workforce in the following labor planning template:

 

Unsatisfactory performance

Satisfactory
performance

Exceptional
performance

 

High potential

 

Professionals in this box are deemed capable of delivering better performance in other roles with supplementary training.

Professionals in this box perform very well in their roles. They are prime candidates for promotions to positions requiring exceptional performance.

Professionals in this box are your company’s top performers. Often, construction HR professionals will aim to keep these workers around as long as possible.

 

Medium potential

 

Professionals placed here require coaching to thrive within their current roles.

Workers in this box are candidates for taking on additional responsibilities in their existing roles with further training.

Workers placed here often have opportunities for personal and professional growth in their current roles.

 

Low potential

 

Professionals in this box are the least satisfactory workers at your company.

Management professionals often shuffle these workers around or plan their exit from the organization.

Professionals placed here have typically reached their full career potential and need to be trained on innovative thinking to progress further.

These workers are experienced achievers but have nonetheless reached their full potential.

They’re still valuable employees but may lack the potential for progression within your company.

The performance-potential matrix has become a staple of labor planning for several reasons.

First, it helps construction HR professionals focus on developing their organization’s human capital internally. Often, this is much cheaper than recruiting and onboarding fresh outside talent. As discussed in this post, upward mobility within an organization often incentives employees to innovate and grow.

Often, the performance-potential matrix will also reveal skill gaps that need to be addressed via training or outside hires.

In the construction industry, it may make sense to create a performance-potential matrix for each crew.

#3. Compensation and benefits analysis

Compensation and benefits analysis plays a key role in construction workforce management.

As its name suggests, this form of analysis evaluates the direct and indirect compensation employees receive. This is essential for calculating accurate labor costs and planning your related capital allocation appropriately.

Compensation and benefits analysis is a very thorough, well thought out process. Larger companies often have professionals dedicated solely to monitoring compensation and benefits.

This role typically involves conducting salary surveys to identify the market average compensation for particular positions. Professionals then combine this data with knowledge regarding the minutiae of roles at their companies to determine fair compensation ranges.

Check out this article to learn more about compensation and benefits analysis, which is also often referred to as cost-benefit analysis.

#4. Gantt charts

Gantt charts are an incredibly popular resource planning tool. They help construction management professionals visualize dependencies and the ripple effects individual scheduling decisions may have.

This is very important given that – as mentioned earlier – construction resources (including labor) must often be allocated for use in completely different locations.

Gantt charts are typically featured in other labor planning templates and tools, including Bridgit Bench.

To read more about the history of Gantt charts and how they’re used in construction, check out this post.

#5. Scenario planning

Construction companies can benefit tremendously from scenario planning given how goal-oriented work in the industry is.

Scenario planning addresses the uncertainties that can keep companies from being able to adequately predict progress towards goals. It involves listing those uncertainties and creating contingency plans that reduce their impact on operations (i.e. cost overruns).

The scenario planning process generally goes like this:

  1. Identifying two to five scenarios your company could conceivably have to address (i.e. key personnel falling ill or being forced to quarantine, an unfortunately common occurrence in modern construction resource management)
  2. Identifying the key factors that could affect outcomes in each scenario
  3. Pinpointing external forces that may also have an impact
  4. Highlighting the fundamental uncertainties that may make planning difficult
  5. Mapping out concrete, logical steps that could be taken in each scenario
  6. Figuring out the implications of each approach to addressing the uncertainties
  7. Monitoring for early indicators of which scenario(s) are most likely to actually come true

Check out this Forbes article for a thorough look at each of these steps.

Keep in mind that it’s important to involve workers at various levels in the scenario planning process. Office management staff may have a very different understanding of each scenario’s realities than the job site workers.

#6. Workforce modeling

Workforce modeling is an essential labor management tool. It helps construction professionals map out their labor needs and ensure enough qualified personnel is on hand to meet the demand.

Tools like Bridgit Bench include workforce modeling in the form of forecasting technology.

Metrics tracked using workforce modeling include:

  • Utilization ratio: This describes the percentage of available time your workforce is actually productive. As discussed in this post, achieving 100% utilization is not necessarily the goal. In fact, it would signal your workforce is being overworked and not spending enough time developing new skills.
  • Age distribution: Your company’s age distribution can provide valuable insights regarding, among many things, how many workers are retiring soon or whether your company lacks experienced personnel.
  • Employee turnover ratio: Hiring and onboarding people can be costly. Your employee turnover ratio can help you determine whether you’re incurring these costs at an abnormal level, which would likely prompt a closer look at your compensation and benefits analysis.
  • Absenteeism ratio: Your company’s absenteeism ratio is another important indicator of workforce productivity and reliability. An abnormally high ratio can severely impact your company’s profitability and may suggest job satisfaction issues that need to be addressed.

Labor planning is undoubtedly among the most important aspects of construction management. We hope this guide has helped you understand the tools professionals use to plan effectively. None of the tools on this list are exclusive; you can combine them and incorporate other strategies as well through the use of a comprehensive labor planning suite like Bridgit Bench and its integrations.

For more construction management tips, visit our blog.


Lauren Lake

Lauren Lake is the CCO 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.

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