This blog will outline some of the best practices we’ve seen work for our clients in the past. As every general contractor operates slightly different, feel free to adopt the suggestions that work for your organization and leave the items that don’t. As our tool is constantly changing, these best practices will change too. You’re welcome to revisit this post and we’ll do our best to highlight what’s new.
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Your team and our support
Bridgit offers free training sessions and unlimited support. Feel free to reach out to your support contact to book training sessions as necessary. We also have plenty of great documentation to help you troubleshoot issues quickly. See here for more details.
Rules of engagement
Though many construction companies will share comparable workforce planning needs, Bridgit Bench is optimized for customizations to meet all of your organization’s unique needs as well. As a result, there is often more than one way to accomplish similar goals. With that in mind, and to ensure consistency, you may want to document your own Rules of Engagement to outline the best practices that your organization is committing to.
Who should use and have access to Bridgit Bench?
Bridgit Bench can help to increase collaboration within your business. Some organizations have reported that Bridgit Bench has brought their leadership teams closer together within the first couple of months by helping them optimize their workforce plan as a team. At a minimum, we encourage giving access to everyone involved in your company’s workforce planning process.
For the best results, we recommend the below format, which is supported by our 3 standard permission groups. See more details on Permission Groups here.
We recommend designating one or two team members to act as the ‘Administrators’ of your Bench account. To do this, add them to the Administrator permission group within Bridgit Bench using their email address. See here for more details.
These users will have full access to view, add, edit and delete all content in your account. More importantly, they will have access to the account settings, which is where the bulk of the data customization will live. By limiting this area to only one or two people, you’ll be able to better monitor the tool, ensure consistency and optimize its performance. It will also create a single point of contact between your organization and our support teams. These users often become known as the designated Bridgit Bench expert within your organization.
Administrators’ unique responsibilities will include managing the following:
2. Full Contributors
This group will be the bulk of your account users and they will require the Full Contributor permission group in your account settings. These users can view, add, edit, and delete all of the content in your Bridgit Bench account except the account settings.
Full contributors are your daily users keeping all your people and project information up to date. Their responsibilities will include:
- Adding and updating people and projects that your company needs to start tracking
- Defining the roles and the unique requirements for each project
- Filling those roles with people who meet the role requirements
- Identifying the gaps in your company’s resource planning.
This is going to be a big group of users and that’s OK. This is where your company’s Rules of Engagement will come in handy. Below is an example of how you might define this group of users further through your Rules of Engagement.
Adding & deactivating people
Your hiring manager, who all personnel changes funnel through, should be solely responsible for adding new hires and deactivating people who leave the organization. This will again create consistency and hold one person accountable for keeping your people data up to date. While this user is still a Full Contributor, their unique responsibilities in Bridgit Bench align more directly with their responsibilities outside of Bridgit Bench.
Note: Administrators can also perform all of tasks mentioned in this Full Contributor section, so there will be some overlap.
3. View Only
Outside of the users that are contributing to your resource planning, you may have users that just need a birds-eye-view of what’s happening. This could be your C-Suite folks or maybe your HR staff. We encourage you to add these users to your account in your View Only permission group.
This will enable these individuals to be self-sufficient and get quick answers about your workforce plan without having to constantly rely on communication from your Administrators or Full Contributors. We’ve noticed that even View Only users will still log in to their Bridgit Bench account prior to company manpower meetings to ensure they’re up to date. Having everyone aligned going into meetings helps to keep them productive and allows for greater collaboration on your workforce plan.
Typical number of users
Based on company size, below are the number of users we’ve seen utilized from companies that have been successful with Bridgit Bench:
- Small (under 50 trackable staff) – 5-10+ users
- Mid-size (50-100 trackable staff) – 10-19+ users
- Large (100+ trackable staff) – 20+ users
What data points should we track in Bridgit Bench?
There is plenty of opportunity to track custom data points, which we’ll refer to as fields, in Bridgit Bench. However, when it comes to determining what to track, it’s important to identify what will add value and what will become unnecessary noise or wasteful to maintain.
One way to help determine what fields will add value is to think about how your staffing decisions are made. Are there attributes people hold that help determine if they are a good fit for a project role? Are your projects split by Division and that is how you decide which leader the project belongs to? Each of the customizable fields will add the most value when you’re using them to find unique subsets of data that help drive these decisions.
For example, if your company is split into different regions or offices, you may want to add a Region custom field for both people and projects. This will allow you to apply a filter on this field and see the subset of data that is relevant to a specific region. Or if you have managers that are responsible for different Market Sectors (K-12, Tenant Improvements, Special Projects etc.) you may want to add a Market Sector field associated with Projects and People respectively.
Below are some of the most common fields we see tracked amongst our customers.
Common custom people Fields
- Phone Number
- Employee Start Date
- Position Strength (Scale of 1-10)
- Employee ID
- This is something that can act as a unique identifier between various systems. This is very valuable if you want to set-up a future integration utilizing the Bench API for automated updates.
- If there are various specialties within a specific title, this would be a good place to track the unique specialties of each person.
- Traveller or Willing to Relocate
Common custom project fields
- Project ID/Number
- Market Sector
- Stage (Awarded, Pursuit, Lost)
If you want to plan for a project you might win and see the impact it would have on your staff/organization, then adding this field is a good choice.
Every industry has jargon, short forms or abbreviations that they use. You likely use PM to save some breath, avoid unnecessary typing or space on a page rather than using Project Manager. We get it; we do it too in the tech industry. However, when it comes to data in Bridgit Bench, it might not be the best option. We recommend you adopt 1 of the 2 methods listed below to optimize tool performance:
That’s right, instead of using Sr. PM use Senior Project Manager.
This will reduce any risk of duplicates. For example, if an Administrator adds a Title of Sr. PM and another Administrator adds Sr PM, you’ll see two list options and your search results may get skewed or less accurate. By using the full title you’ll eliminate those inconsistencies that limit your results.
Choose consistent abbreviations
In the case that your organization can’t live without short forms, feel free to add them. You’ll just want to make sure you have consistency throughout your various lists and custom fields you’re required to maintain to keep performance high.
Specifically, the Titles and Roles lists are two lists you will need to manage independently. However, when you’re looking to fill a role on a project, Bridgit Bench searches for all people who have a title that contains the role name. If your people have titles of Sr. PM and you’re looking to fill a Senior Project Manager role, no results will surface unless you manually remove the filter on Title every time you fill a role.
For more information about using abbreviations and short forms, visit our support page here.
Integrations are great, but they do require your data to be in top shape. If your data isn’t in good shape, passing data from one system to the other will cause failures and frustration. Keep the below best practices in mind if you’re thinking an integration could be in your future.
These will be required when setting up an integration because the systems will need to be able to differentiate between people and/or projects without the risk of updating the wrong person or project. Things like employee ID, email address or project number can all be used as unique identifiers because they often aren’t shared between multiple people or projects.
Look at the system you want to integrate with, find the unique identifier and add this unique identifier as a custom field in your Bridgit Bench settings.
If you’re thinking of connecting your Bridgit Bench project data with your Procore project data, take a look at how your projects are named in Procore and make them consistent in Bridgit Bench. For example, does your Procore project name include the project ID? If so, add the ID to the name in Bridgit Bench as well. This consistency will go a long way in the future and reduce the risk of duplicate data.
Tips for managing projects
We understand how important colours are when it comes to differentiating data and making quick decisions. Bridgit Bench allows you to customize the colour of each of your projects.
The key decision here is to decide what the colour will represent. Will active projects be Blue and upcoming projects be Red? Or will K-12 projects be Blue and Tenant Improvements be Red? The answer is up to you, but for best results we recommend you take advantage of this feature. (It’s a fan favorite!) Whatever your decision is, we suggest you add it to your team’s Rules of Engagement and share it with the team so everyone is on the same page.
In the above example colors are assigned based on two divisions. Orange represents one division, green the other, and purple is designated for upcoming projects. For a step by step guide to customizing your colors, visit our support page here.
Customers have explained that projects in pre-construction are often managed in one place and those in construction are managed elsewhere. By utilizing the Bridgit Bench Phases feature, you’ll be able to manage all phases of a project in one place. This will reduce duplicate work, increase collaboration between teams, and surface dependencies earlier. Don’t leave your precon folks out of Bridgit Bench. Share the love!
The phases we see most commonly tracked are Pre-construction, Construction and Closeout. If your organization uses these same phases, we recommend this as a good place to start. You can get more granular and add sub-phases, but again you’ll only want to add the phases that add value to help drive resource planning decisions. Maintaining a large list of sub-phases that don’t really help drive these decisions may become tedious.
Our sorting option from the list or gantt view sorts A-Z or Z-A. If you want your Phases to sort in order of sequence rather alphabetically, then we recommend prefixing with a number. For example, 01 – Precon, 02 – Construction and 03 – Closeout.
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Sometimes jobs are paused and you need to track and/or share that information. In order for us to suggest a best practice for paused jobs, we need to understand when the pause happens. Is a job paused before construction has started? Does the pause typically happen when construction is already underway? Are both scenarios possible?
If jobs get paused before construction has started then you’ll likely only need a custom project field to track this. For example, you could use a custom field called Paused or Start Date Secured with a Checkbox field type. This will allow you to filter and only see those paused or not paused, or sort to surface all paused jobs to the top of your list or push them to the bottom.
If jobs get paused when construction is already underway, then you may still consider the custom field option mentioned above, but tracking this through phases might be more valuable. You’ll need to add an additional Phase, called 04 – Paused for example. You can then add this 04 – Paused phase with the dates of the expected pause and update any allocation changes during the pause.
Colour coating these paused projects may also be valuable.
The above is example of a Paused phase that has been added to Bridgit Bench and how it will appear in your Project Gantt. For questions about project phases, check out our support page for more information.
Similar to tracking paused jobs, tracking pursuits is best done through adding a custom project field. We’ve seen these custom fields managed as a Contract Status with list options like Awarded, Contract Pending or Lost or we’ve also the field as Win % with list options like 25%, 75%, and 100%. Regardless of the specifics around your field, the field will again allow you to sort and filter your project list and gantt view.
Once you’ve added a pursuit job, you can define the roles and even fill them to see the impact of these jobs on your staff. If the job is eventually awarded, you can move forward with your regular resource planning. If the job is lost, you can delete the project. Alternatively, if you want to keep track of lost jobs you can change the dates to be in the past and it won’t impact your future staffing projections. As well, the roles, potential allocations and project details will never be lost. That way, if the job later resurfaces, you can just change the dates to be in the future and you’re back in business.
Colour coding is valuable here. You might want to make all Lost jobs black or some sort of key colour that indicates a job was bid on and planned, but never actually happened.
Tips for manpower meetings
This brings us to your manpower meetings! Our goal is to make your manpower meetings more effective by reducing duplicate work, increasing collaboration and bringing important issues to your attention.
Don’t waste time taking notes in your manpower meeting and then later transcribing them into Bridgit Bench. Drive your manpower meetings from the Project Gantt view and make real time edits while the discussion is happening. For more info on how to run your manpower meetings from the Project Gantt view see here.
For best results, encourage the leaders of your projects to make edits to their respective projects before the meeting and add any new notes or speaking points to the project notes field.