Our customers often tell us that construction workforce planning and staffing decisions are difficult and consume time that could be spent on other operational priorities and functions.
Whether it’s the system they are using, the number of people involved in the decision-making process, or the lack of actionable data at their fingertips, workforce planning is a critical and frustrating reality for the construction industry.
Before Bridgit Bench, most of our customers relied on static solutions like Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project. These platforms allowed for the basic functions of workforce planning, like placing a person on a project for a duration of time. However, what these systems couldn’t provide was actionable, real-time data. Strategic construction workforce planning requires information that can help determine who might be the right person for a specific job, based on multiple variables that are changing in real time.
Every contractor we speak to has vast amounts of data on their people and projects, but this workforce data is often:
- Scattered across multiple systems – from manual spreadsheets to internally built solutions or third-party tools, or even stored in someone’s head.
- Accessible and editable by various groups of people across the organization without great internal controls.
- Unable to be collaborated on or shared in real-time, especially in times of work shutdowns, and work-from-home mandates.
So how do our customers leverage this data to make informed construction workforce planning decisions with Bridgit’s construction technology? The answer depends on the specific challenges being faced.
For example, Columbia Construction found that spreadsheets were simply an unsustainable tool as their company grew. They lacked adaptability, changes were hard to make because they relied on one person, and they had no ability to forecast workforce demands.
The impact of this was manifold. Shawn Gallant, the VP of Corporate Development at Columbia Construction pointed out that “with poor workforce management company morale goes down, employees are burnt out because they’re going to do whatever it takes to get the job done,” explained Gallant, “It affects your employee retention and increases safety incidents on a project. With any safety incident, there’s a cost, but more importantly, there’s somebody’s personal life that could be impacted. You never want an unsafe site because you’re cutting a dollar on staffing. It just doesn’t make sense.”
By using Bridgit Bench, Columbia was able to break the silos their previous process created by having their people and project data centralized. Almost immediately, more people got involved in the workforce planning process which inspired collaboration and transformed the way projects are planned and how changes get communicated.
Additionally, since the data was centralized, departments like marketing and HR use the data in Bridgit to understand where people are working, create promotion plans, and gather teams for project pursuits.
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Forecasting data also provides a lot of value for their teams. They could now run specific scenarios regarding their pursuits “like we’ve got 25 active projects and 10 pursuits, 3 of which are 95% so I can factor them into my forecasting. That’s priceless to be able to do that.”
Another common challenge contractors have with workforce planning is sharing resources across multiple offices. Daniel Barry, VP of Operations at Schimenti Construction, explained that it was difficult to get extra support for a project because project managers would have to communicate by phone and email, which took time and was unreliable due to the cumbersome nature of updating their spreadsheet system.
Again, having all their people’s data consolidated in Bridgit helped solve this problem. Barry explains “you don’t have to get on the phone or email, you can just pull up Bridgit Bench on your phone or laptop and see where there are available resources. Using Bridgit Bench as a live document between all our offices, we’re able to set up our teams for success and they’re ready to go so we can start those jobs right.”
A great deal of a construction company’s success is determined by the relationships they’re able to build. This doesn’t apply exclusively to clients, relationships with their own teams are paramount to creating a culture of trust and enjoyment. For construction, this is especially relevant due to the fast pace and tight timelines contractors are beholden to.
Schimenti uses workforce utilization reports to effectively plan their workforce so their people can take vacations without worry. Barry says “Bridgit Bench helps us keep a house of information so we know that, ‘Hey, this superintendent on the seventh week of their 12-week project, they’re going to be gone for a week.’ Then, I can start planning ahead so I have the right person and that superintendent, when they’re away with their family for a week, could enjoy themself and not worry if their job is in good hands. We can really strive to make sure everyone has a good work-life balance.”
As the construction workforce retires, it’s important that contractors are able to attract young talent and one of the ways to do this is to create a company culture where employees are encouraged to take work-life balance seriously. Having a tool to effectively plan your workforce is a part of the development of that kind of culture because you can feel confident in your proactive project team decisions.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Ultimately, the goal of a good resource plan is to ensure that you have the right people, with the right skills, on the right projects, at the right time. The easiest way to do this is to have actionable information at your fingertips. As a construction operations team, the constant challenge is to leverage your employees’ skill sets to put the puzzle pieces together to ensure that you have a successful project every time.
With so many data points to consider when staffing a job from your talent pool, having a centralized database of this information that is accessible, manipulatable, and easy to understand can help ensure that you have a clear picture of the best people for the project.
We live in an era where technology and data analysis helps inform the decision-making process to a greater level than ever before.
Why wouldn’t you apply that to your workforce planning process?