Without question, construction generates a lot of data. In the past, the bulk of that data would be project specific and stored on paper, whiteboards, and spreadsheets. Once the project was completed, that data would often be filed away, moved to a “completed projects” spreadsheet, or worst case scenario – deleted. In most of those instances the historical data would never be seen again.
That was the past. In recent years more construction specific technology is being created and adopted by general contractors. These new technologies are allowing organizations to capture and reference more data than they ever could. At first, the amount of data might be overwhelming, especially as organizations attempt to standardize how data is being captured and analyzing it to make more informed decisions.
Breakthroughs in mobile technology, virtual reality, drones, jobsite sensors, and a mountain of other construction technology have allowed for greater insight into different construction processes. However, as the saying goes “your most important resource is your people.” Construction workforce management tools have allowed general contractors to collect more data in regards to their workforce than ever before. Knowing how to use that data to optimize your most important resource can help create a massive competitive advantage in the construction industry.
If you can identify problems you are looking to solve, collecting and analyzing the relevant data is likely the best first step you can take to fix it. In this article we’re going to look at a few ways you can gain greater insight by using your workforce data to your advantage. For more information about workforce management, check out our guide to construction workforce management.
1. Understand your utilization
One of the biggest challenges for any organization is understanding if their team is working at, over, or under their capacity. It’s not unheard of for multiple employees to fall through the cracks when using a spreadsheet system. This leads to under utilized team members and ultimately costs organizations thousands of dollars in unused labor every year.
Construction workforce management tools can provide valuable insight into your team’s utilization to keep them working at capacity. Whether it’s understanding how stretched your team is or who can take on more work, being able to easily visualize and analyze your team’s utilization allows you to identify areas that need improvement and directly impact your bottom line.
Your utilization rate is a great indicator of potential loss. If your utilization rate is above 90%, odds are with some minor tweaks to allocation percentages and project commitments you can close the gap to 100% fairly easily. If your utilization rate is below 90% you can use that as a warning sign that you need to identify team members that are being under-utilized. If your utilization rate is dipping below 85%, you’ll need to address this with your operations team and come up with a strategy to improve your utilization, or make cuts to your team.
While this may seem like a difficult task, it’s more important to remember that knowing your utilization rate means you can improve your utilization rate. Workforce data can help to shed the light on these areas for improvement and keep you from being in the dark about potential loss.
2. Understand your team’s skills
There are so many benefits to capturing your workforce data when it comes to your individual team members. Better understanding of the team at your disposal will allow you to optimize your project teams and create clear paths for career success to improve the retention of your high performers. Your workforce data will help to provide insight into:
Skills and experience
Being able to track your team members’ skills and experience will help to optimize your project teams and ensure you have the right people allocated to the right projects. You can easily reference project histories and analyze your team’s performance against project goals to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward on new projects.
Analyzing your team’s experience also helps to identify gaps in required skill sets. Whether this means you can stay ahead of recruiting new team members to fill those gaps, or offer training to employees that are eager to learn new skills, understanding where the gaps are in your team’s skills and experience is just as valuable as knowing the skills and experience they already possess.
Strengths and weaknesses
Having an understanding of your team’s strengths and weaknesses beyond analyzing project experience can also help to bring balance to your project teams. Tracking strengths and weaknesses can ensure you are building strong project teams for high priority projects. It can also help to balance out teams and ensure members of each project team are complementing each other. Pairing your strongest Project Manager with a lower performing Project Manager on a project with a large scope will allow the former to lead by example.
3. Understand the impact of future projects
Having accurate and up to date workforce data will also help understand the impact that future projects will have on your team. Your workforce data will help to build strong project teams for future projects, and also identify potential allocation issues for team members before they become problematic. Everyone prefers to avoid conflict and that includes your clients. Being able to confidently assemble future project teams without conflict is a great way to start off on the right foot and create a strong client relationship.
4. Understand recruitment needs
Your workforce data will also help to shed a light on your future recruitment needs. Keeping an eye on your utilization into the future will help to identify times when your team is spread too thin and could use more support. Staying ahead of hiring is crucial when you’re trying to recruit skilled workers to join your team. The more time you have, the less likely you are to rush any hiring decisions and bring on unqualified employees.
Another way of using workforce data to your advantage when seeking to fill positions is to look within your own company. If you are able to identify gaps where team members could take on more work, you can use that time to offer training or mentorships to help nurture your own team to potentially fill needed positions. Offering your team members opportunities to move up the ladder and gain new experiences will help to retain your talent by creating a culture within your organization where opportunities are presented rather than asked for.
Bridgit Bench is a construction workforce management solution built to store, update, and analyze all of your relevant workforce data. Our clients use Bridgit Bench to confidently create strong project teams and mitigate risk due to under or over allocations. We help provide valuable insight into workforce utilization to optimize capacity planning to help our clients push the needle in a positive direction.
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.
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