Breaking down workforce planning silos in the construction industry

Breaking down workforce planning silos in the construction industry

 


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At Ridgemont Commercial Construction, Joey Johnson is the Principal and VP of Business Development, focused on developing client relationships and strategic initiatives. Joey believes that the most common challenge in projects is labor shortages – “they’re very difficult to predict and plan for in today’s construction environment.”

Ridgemont has been in business for going on 44 years, primarily in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. However, they also do work in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City. Their primary type of work is six different market segments: retail, automotive, industrial, office, medical, and senior living. Since implementing Bridgit Bench, Ridgemont has become a top 5 usage account, successfully integrating their field team – from APMs to PMs – into the resource planning process.

Bridgit’s CRO, Sean Erjavec, sat down with Joey for an exclusive Q&A. Below is a behind-the-scenes look at the interview. Want to watch the full recording? Watch it here.

Steps & technology behind workforce planning in the construction industry

Sean: Let’s switch gears a little bit in terms of resource planning technology. Can you give me and the audience a sense on how you were managing resource planning prior to implementing Bridgit Bench?

Joey: Terribly, I guess, would be the right way to say it. With the size of projects and the amount of projects that we do, spanning over multiple different market segments, being six of them, and some of those market segments do not crossover. So it is complicated and when you’re trying to factor in, not only when a project is going to start, but then how long are they going to be on there? How long is the punch list going to take and close out to where that superintendent really is off the job? Because at substantial completion that doesn’t mean the superintendent’s available. You’ve got to give it that time. So to track contractual start date, completion date (from a substantial completion standpoint), final completion, and then licensing – made it difficult and made it complicated. And quite honestly, we used various ideas of Excel all the way to just writing it down on a piece of paper and trying to cross off a name. So it was very inefficient, would be the way I would describe how we used to do it.

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We don’t like to do things twice – and I think that’s one of the main things we liked about Bridgit Bench. Before we were tracking multiple different pieces and parts of a project timeline in different pieces of software. But what we needed was something that would combine that resource and project data, and put it in more of a streamlined fashion.
— Joey Johnson, Principal and VP of Business Development @ Ridgemont

Sean: Ridgemont has been using our tool for a while. What was that like internally in terms of bringing on a new software solution, the implementation, methodology, and the adoption? What did that look like for you and your team?

Joey: We’re constantly trying to make ourselves better, improve our company and we’re constantly looking for new software, new ways to do it, better ways to do the same old thing. We never want to get stagnant in anything that we do. And this was a pinch point that we just had not solved yet. We tried Microsoft Project, Microsoft Excel, we tried all kinds of stuff, but we just never had a good solution for it.

As far as implementing technology we’re pretty proficient at it. We know how to do it. We get a committee together, we vet the software out. Then we roll it out to the company, we train the trainers and then they train the employees. And then we do follow ups with everybody to make sure that they’re using it and that they’re using it the correct way.

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From a leadership standpoint, I don’t need to know when the concrete’s being poured. I need to know what the start date is, when we’re going to be done, how long the process is going to take, and to be able to track that.
— Joey Johnson, Principal and VP of Business Development @ Ridgemont

Bridgit Bench is very user friendly. From an interface standpoint, it’s not a difficult thing to understand. That’s the way Bridgit designed it – to be user-friendly, where you can use it on your iPhone and your iPad, or your computer, and you can input data quickly and efficiently. And we found that was true. The speed of implementation for a technology software has a lot to do with how well it’s developed and how easy it is to use.

 


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Empowering your construction field team in workforce planning

Sean: Very good. In the past, you were running Microsoft Project, Microsoft Excel, whiteboards, and pieces of paper. Prior to Bridgit Bench, and really empowering your field team, did what the field team was doing translate to resource planning? How did you deal with resource planning prior to providing that access to your field team in Bridgit Bench?

Joey: We had an Excel document that they would put information into, but it wasn’t graphical. It wasn’t easy to read or see. We had to go through it and pull the information out of it to be able to get an overview from a project status perspective. From a project team perspective, that made it even more complicated. It wasn’t a very good tool but that’s how we had to do it. It was very labor intensive. That’s why at the end of the day it ended up being our VP of Ops and our VP of Field, who would have their own sheet. They would have all of their superintendents or all of their project teams and they would have their little notes there of when they’re coming off each job.

So they’re keeping a spreadsheet. Then we were keeping a spreadsheet to show what I mentioned before about trying to see if a project is in trouble or not or where it’s at in the process. So there was just a lot of different tools being used. Now we’re getting all of that combined information in Bridgit Bench.

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This is the first interview I’ve done for a particular software. And I can say honestly that most of the time I wouldn’t be giving a very favorable response. There’s a lot of problems and quirks with software in general, but this one really has helped us. It’s made us more efficient. And I was managing a lot of those Excel files that we used to use. I’m primarily managing Bridgit Bench with the help and input of the rest of the company, and it’s made my job a lot easier. It’s made resource planning a lot more seamless.
— Joey Johnson, Principal and VP of Business Development @ Ridgemont

COVID-19’s impact on your workforce planning

Sean: I think that’s some great insight there. COVID is still a big, big topic in today’s environment. On our side we’ve seen a lot of clients adopt technology using our solution. We’re seeing increased usage – shifting dates like start and end dates and then updates to allocations and forecasting. And I know you touched upon it, but just with COVID, it sounds like you and your team are riding the storm fairly well.

Joey: Yeah, absolutely. The what ifs, that’s a big one right now, just because a lot of those projects that we feel good about, the biggest question is when is it going to start? Now we can tell project teams, if you can tell me when it’s going to start, I can tell you who we have available. But more times than not, especially right now, the date they give us is not the date that it’s actually going to start. It’s going to push to some degree. So it is a moving target. Bridgit Bench makes this easy. You just take that, shift the project dates and it spits it out a little further out there, and then you can see who’s available at that time.

For more information about resource management, check out our guide to construction resource management.

 



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Lauren Lake

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.


 

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