We often hear from our clients that construction workforce planning and manpower decisions are difficult. And not just difficult, but time consuming – 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 – resource planning is a critical and frustrating reality for the construction industry.
Before Bridgit Bench, most of our clients relied on static solutions like Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project. These platforms allowed for the basic functions of resource 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 different criteria.
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 clients leverage this data to make informed construction workforce planning decisions with Bridgit’s construction technology?
The answer is simple: consolidation and customization.
Bridgit Bench, specifically designed for the construction industry, allows our clients to go deeper, and customize their platform to track the specific data points about their personnel and projects that can help better inform staffing decisions during the construction workforce planning process. For more information about workforce management, check out our guide to construction workforce management.
Bringing together the information that our clients had scattered across their enterprises into one platform has saved our clients countless hours, made them more confident in their resource plans, and reduced the number of systems many carried to store this data.
Consolidation and custom data in the real world
Continental Building Company, out of Columbus, Ohio and #344 on the ENR 400 list, was an early adopter of the Bridgit Bench platform. Prior to Bridgit Bench, Continental was using two separate systems for construction manpower planning – one for historical data, and another for scheduling their personnel. What this ultimately led to was difficulty in managing their project staff:
“As we’ve grown, we hit a wall because there was too much data to process to get the right people in the right spot, but now Bridgit Bench can help us manage the workforce management and staffing challenges.”
— David Donahoe, CIO at Continental Building Company
Getting their data into one system was critical for Continental Building Company, and since implementing Bench, they have found it easier to schedule jobs, and properly price their work to improve their margins, both essential business outcomes for the company.
In addition to these benefits, Continental has also saved time as they are no longer managing two separate systems that did not talk to one another.
Curious about how your larger team can use workforce data to inform their work? Check out our latest episode of “Off the bench” where we talk about getting the most out of your workforce data.
Data points and their impact
So what are some data points that our clients are tracking in Bridgit Bench, and how do these fields help enable smarter staffing, and talent management decisions?
I have included a few examples of custom fields that our clients are leveraging:
Previous work experience – in Excel, or less robust resource tracking solutions, there isn’t a great way to track what someone has worked on previously, what client experience they may have had, etc.
If your construction company is bidding on work for a specific client, there may be requirements for previous experience that could be easily found by using Custom Fields in Bridgit Bench
Willingness to relocate – assume you’re a contractor in California, who has recently secured a bid to work on a project in Arizona. You would need to be able to mobilize a team that would be willing to relocate for a significant period of time to satisfy the project. Having this information centrally stored can greatly simplify the process of identifying these potential candidates.
Home address – in an effort to minimize commute times for their staff, several of our clients include address information as a custom field for their personnel tracking. There has been more research done on the mental health impacts from commuting over the years, and contractors are often looking for how to minimize travel time as much as possible.
One of the biggest benefits of a consolidated and cloud-based tool like Bridgit Bench is the continuity of data, and succession planning.
According to NBC News, job-hopping is on the rise. Employees are changing roles more rapidly, as the competition for talent is increasing and people’s career expectations have changed. The construction industry is certainly not immune to these shifts in employment trends.
When personnel and project information isn’t stored in a central location, your company is at risk of critical information being lost as people leave for new opportunities, or in the case of retirement.
Business leaders at your construction company may have deep knowledge about their people and skills sets, but if this information isn’t stored in a platform like Bridgit Bench, there is an inherent risk to the business should these team members leave the company. Even from a succession planning perspective, ensuring that the company continues to have access to the best, and most recent data, acts as a hedge against the risk presented from the retirement of executives within the organization.
As these people move on in their careers, an incoming candidate would be starting from zero in terms of their knowledge of the staff that they have inherited responsibilities for. Having this data centrally stored, can reduce the ramp up time for these new Operations hires, and ensure that this employee turnover doesn’t become a bigger challenge than it already presents.
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 employee’s 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 data and workforce analytics helps inform our decision making process to a greater level than ever before.
Why would you want anything different from your resource plan?