It’s undeniable that 2020 was a difficult year for the construction industry. We were faced with a global pandemic that disrupted nearly every aspect of our day-to-day lives. Businesses closed, the economy took a hit, working from home became the new norm, and construction projects slowed to a halt. However, construction is one of (if not the most) resilient industries.
To shed some light on the year ahead, Dodge Data and Analytics recently published their 2021 construction outlook. While the construction industry is expecting to rebound from the shutdowns caused by COVID-19, it’s expected that the recovery will be slow and unlikely to accelerate in the first half of the year.
It isn’t all bad news, though. According to the report residential construction was the least impacted by the disruption caused by COVID-19. With lower mortgage rates and workers looking to move away from big cities as remote work increases, residential construction starts are expected to increase more than any other sector in 2021.
On the other hand, non-residential buildings were impacted the most and the expected growth will be slow heading into 2021. Some key takeaways from 2020 include:
Commercial construction starts dropped 23%
Hotels and hospitality starts plummeted 43% and are expected to continue dropping
Retail construction starts dropped 25% but are expected to bounce back 7% in 2021
Warehousing was the only commercial sector to show growth as ecommerce exploded in 2020 and expect to see continued growth
Non-building construction saw a significant drop in starts from 2019
With an expected slow start to the year, contractors are putting a strong emphasis on using data to drive core efficiencies and improve the overall effectiveness of their resources. In this article, we’re going to briefly explore a few steps you can take to improve the effectiveness of your resource management.
6 steps to improve the effectiveness of your resource management
1. Use specialized software
As mentioned earlier, construction has hundreds of moving parts. Trying to manage your resources without software is a tall order and costly errors are inevitable. Resource management solutions, like Bridgit Bench, provide customizations and industry-specific features that will help to simplify the complex process of resource planning.
Bridgit Bench can help to manage milestones and project phases and lets you easily tie your resources to specific project phases. On top of that, resource management solutions will help you track your team’s skills and experience and provide insight into your workforce utilization rates to optimize your capacity planning, stay ahead of recruitment needs, and better understand the impact of future work.
Specialized resource management software also centralizes your project and workforce data and gives you complete control over your team’s accessibility.
2. Understand your project demand
Your target project and phases completion dates can be used to strategically schedule your workforce to ensure you have the right people in the right place at the right time. Take the time to include your project phases in your resource planning and include any other target dates you’re aiming to hit.
These project and phase completion dates help create the foundation for a productive jobsite. Be sure to inform your team of the expected completion dates for each phase and milestone, as well as how those dates were decided. When everyone is aware of their end goals and how those end goals came to be, it helps to keep everyone engaged in the work and pulling in the same direction.
Take the time to look at your historical project data as well. Find projects of similar scope and size to better understand the resources that were required to hit target dates and identify teams that could repeat that success.
3. Identify your available resources
Now that you’ve identified your project and phase dates, create a list of all the resources you’ll need to hit your targets. Be sure to also include the relevant skills and experience for each project role. Effective resource management isn’t just throwing your people into project work, it’s choosing the best-fit team members that will deliver quality work on time and under budget.
Tip: Include a “Plan B” in your list of resources. If additional support is needed, you can quickly reference your backup plan to identify available resources that can help keep your project moving forward.
4. Allocate your resources and remedy any issues
We’ve identified milestones, project phases, and resources. Now it’s time to start allocating your team members to your projects. While everything might make sense on paper, it’s not until you start assigning your team members to projects that you’ll be able to see the impact on the rest of your project pipeline.
Resource management software can help to identify any potential issues with your plan and remedy them in real time. For example, Bridgit Bench will indicate any allocation issues within your resource plan. If a team member is being over utilized, you can quickly adjust allocation percentages or replace them on a project with an available team member and see the impact of that change immediately.
Tip: Be sure to clearly communicate resource planning expectations for your project operations. If you want weekly updates from your Project Managers, let them know how you expect them to communicate with you.
5. Evaluate & Compare with your historical project data
Effective resource management doesn’t happen overnight. Evaluating your resource strategy when a project is complete will help to identify areas of improvement. Resource management is an ongoing process. As such, improving your resource management should be as well.
According to FMI, 90% of collected data goes unused in the construction industry. Similar to planning your resources, take the time to compare your recently completed project with your historical projects of similar scope. Doing a project “debrief” can help to identify the areas where you performed well, and also where you may have gone off track. Use your historical data to your advantage to repeat past successes and, equally important, avoid past missteps.
6. Take a step back
Evaluating individual projects can help to improve the effectiveness from one project to the next, but it’s important to also take a step back and evaluate your performance as an organization. Ask yourself:
How well are you utilizing team members across the company?
How efficient is your planning process?
Does your team feel like they’re being given career-building experience?
Repeat business is also a key indicator of customer satisfaction. Taking a look at historical projects from repeat customers can help to identify what led your clients to come back with more projects.
By evaluating your projects and identifying what worked and what didn’t, you’ll be able to continually improve your resource strategy from one project to the next. Effective resource management takes time, commitment, and an ongoing desire to learn and improve.
Bridgit Bench is the leading resource management solution built specifically for the construction industry. Our goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of resource management across the industry. Learn more about Bridgit Bench, or check out some of our client success stories.