According to KPMG, the construction industry has been one of the slower industries when it comes to technology adoption, but it isn’t without reason. Construction is a dynamic, ever-changing industry that can’t be put on hold to implement a new technology and get everyone on your team relevant training. On top of that, adopting construction technology usually means taking on more costs and, in some cases, requires contractors to be trailblazers by testing relatively unproven software and technology.
However, for general contractors that are willing to take the risk, the reward can often be a significant competitive advantage over firms that play it safe by waiting for competitors to test the waters before jumping in themselves.
2020 has seen new levels of uncertainty brought on by what seems to be a never ending slew of external factors disrupting the construction industry. Adding to that, a heightened tension surrounding worker safety and projects being put at-risk is causing general contractors to reevaluate their core processes – putting resource management and workforce planning front and center heading into 2021.
Resource management in the construction industry varies significantly from contractor to contractor. Some have taken the plunge and have digitally transformed their process with tools like Bridgit Bench, some are still relying on spreadsheets and whiteboards, and some are attempting to manage their entire resource strategy using the good old fashioned pen and paper.
It’s important to remember that technology and software development moves fast. What were unproven technologies 5-10 years ago have now become essential tools for contractors looking to gain a competitive edge and close any efficiency gaps within their organization. With data-driven resource management tools helping to optimize workforce strategies and streamline operations, we’re going to explore some of the trends and best practices for resource planning headed into 2021. For more information about resource management, read our ultimate guide to construction resource management.
A look at resource management in 2021
Safety has always been the highest priority for general contractors. The inherent risks to your team members are always present on every project, but the global pandemic has brought those risks to a whole new level. Staying productive in 2021 means staying ahead of the new risks to your teams and projects.
How do you stay ahead of a global pandemic? I won’t pretend that it’s easy, COVID-19 has created a wealth of new challenges when it comes to your team’s safety, but one of the key ways that resource management tools can help lighten the load is simple – information.
Resource management tools, like Bridgit Bench, allow you to create custom fields to track all things pandemic related. Whether it’s tracking furloughed team members, team members in isolation, or COVID-19 positive job sites, automated resource planning tools can help to surface information critical to keeping your team safe, and in turn, productive.
Remote work as the “new norm”
With new COVID-19 cases constantly on the rise, expect 2021 to be coined “the year of working remotely”. Though construction is mostly a hands-on industry when it comes to projects, many leadership and project management teams are choosing to work remotely whenever possible. That means making your resource planning and workforce strategy accessible to stakeholders not physically present in the office.
Depending on your method for resource management, increasing accessibility to your leadership and project management teams can be putting your workforce and project data at risk of human errors and unwanted changes. So how do you eliminate those risks headed into 2021? A flexible resource management tool.
For example, Bridgit Bench is a cloud-based resource management tool that gives you complete control over access to your resource planning. You can invite your extended leadership and project management teams into the tool and create custom permission settings that limit the level of access for each team member to prevent unwanted changes. It is also highly visual and can act as a control center for remote manpower meetings that take advantage of screen sharing software.
If you’re in the process of evaluating your resource management and are looking for different construction management software options, be sure to include mobile capabilities in your criteria. Having the ability to access your data from anywhere will be paramount to efficient resource management in 2021.
Centralized workforce data
With data-driven decision making recently becoming a trend in the construction industry, reducing the fragmentation of different processes within your organization can significantly help to break down silo walls for your different work teams in 2021. This not only helps to uncover new methods of problem solving, but also keeps everyone pulling in the same direction. In many cases, general contractors will include their HR and project management teams in their resource planning process to help provide better insight to balance workloads, reduce burnout, and maintain high utilization rates.
Effective resource management tools were designed to improve collaborative efforts within your organization. Tools like Bridgit Bench allow you to centralize workforce and project data and include relevant stakeholders at the same time. Cloud-based tools that are updated in real-time ensure that everyone has access to, and are looking at, the same information.
Decentralized workforce management
Resource management and the ownership of data maintenance has typically fallen on the shoulders of one or two members of the operations team. However, with more contractors choosing to house their resource planning in automated software, that ownership is continuing to be extended to the rest of the leadership and project management teams headed into 2021.
As an example, Bridgit Bench has taken some contractors from one person spending upwards of 9 hours/week maintaining and updating their workforce plans – to 4 or 5 team members spending 10 minutes each/week. Balancing that workload with the extended team has resulted in operations managers being able to focus more time on productive and profit-driven tasks.
Some contractors have extended those responsibilities even further and allow their project management teams to request specific team members or project teams, with operations getting final say. The control that automated resource planning tools provide is allowing contractors to decentralize their workforce management and giving their teams the opportunity to step up and take responsibility over the organization’s workforce strategy in 2021.
Bridgit Bench is the leading resource management tool for contractors looking to bring their workforce planning into 2021. With a wide range of customizations, Bridgit Bench is helping general contractors rethink how their resources are being utilized – and not just their project teams. Contractors have also been able to involve their entire operations team to better combat the new challenges brought on by the uncertainty of 2020, and set themselves up for success in the coming year.
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.