One of the main aspects that can massively affect the profitability of a construction project is managing the capacity of resources efficiently. Improving capacity planning isn’t easy. It takes an in-depth understanding of workforce allocations and utilization rates to be able to optimize billable utilization and reduce the amount of time spent on tasks that don’t generate revenue. Managing an entire workforce’s utilization through a series of spreadsheets can often be time consuming and tedious, leading to many general contractors becoming frustrated by the process.
It doesn’t have to be that difficult though. Resource management solutions built specifically for construction, like Bridgit Bench, help to provide actionable insights into workforce utilization rates. It also helps to surface under utilized team members that are costing you money, or are being spread too thin and potentially putting your projects at risk.
In this article, we’ll explore exactly what capacity planning is, and explore different ways that general contractors can begin to optimize their workforce with Bridgit Bench and remain as profitable as possible on each project.
What is capacity planning?
In its simplest form, capacity planning means summarizing the utilization rates of your workforce into the coming weeks, months, and years. Efficient capacity planning can help to:
Determine which team members are under utilized and have availability for more work
Improve project planning by helping to level the workload of your teams
Better understand the impact of future project bids
Provide insight to anticipate recruitment or training needs
Improve visibility over how your resources are being used
Assign your resources more intelligently using actionable data
Essentially, capacity planning is an efficient way to plan your resources across your entire project timeline. Generally, capacity planning will take into account the total duration of each project, the resources allocated to each project (including their allocation percentage and availability), and in some cases the priority level of each project (as an example, prioritizing projects based on potential profit).
When taking this information into account, the objective becomes allocating resources based on project priority, balancing the workload of your teams, and ensuring that your “bench cost” is kept in check (the amount of money your under utilized team members are costing you).
Another benefit of capacity planning is being able to compare your initial plan and the actual time spent on projects. This can help to improve your allocation estimates for future projects of similar scope.
What are the challenges of effective capacity planning for construction?
The construction industry has been relatively slow to adopt new technologies when compared with other industries. What’s holding them back? Cost is always an issue, and a lack of existing use cases for new technologies. In a study done by KPMG it was revealed that most general contractors will actually wait for their competitors to take the plunge of adopting a new technology or software before doing so themselves. While the hesitation is understandable, it also means that operations teams are left with dated systems that make capacity planning a tedious, time consuming task. This often leads to construction leadership choosing to rely on gut-feel when it comes to improving their capacity planning.
Shifting project demands
Relying on gut-feel can make it impossible for general contractors to accurately understand the impact of future project bids. It also makes it increasingly difficult to identify trends in their workforce strategy which can lead to sudden gaps of under utilized team members that are costing money, and can also put you a step behind the competition when it comes to recruiting skilled workers in a highly competitive hiring environment.
As general contractors continue to grow their business and increase the size of their team, it becomes increasingly difficult to track utilization rates accurately. Organizations that are looking to manage their growth should look for construction resource management solutions that can help them better monitor and optimize their workforce utilization as they expand their business.
How can Bridgit Bench help with construction capacity planning?
Our construction resource management and workforce planning solution provides users with the tools to monitor their workforce utilization rates, identify trends and gaps in the workforce strategy, and coordinate multiple projects at once.
It starts with providing a level of visibility into utilization rates that spreadsheets and manual processes simply can’t compete with. The Bridgit Bench Forecasting Dashboard helps general contractors paint a clear picture of how, and where, their workforce is being utilized. With this oversight, contractors can more efficiently strategize the time management of their resources to help ensure every team member is working productively and efficiently.
Next, we built in a powerful filtering system that allows our clients to hone in on the utilization rates of their team based on title, region, division, and even skills and experience.The ability to narrow down the focus of the utilization reports helps our clients ensure the right people are being allocated to the right projects.
Taking into account the difficulties of analyzing utilization rates through spreadsheets and whiteboards, Bridgit Bench also designed our Forecasting Dashboard to be incredibly user friendly. The ease-of-use of our Forecasting Dashboard allows leadership and management to understand how their resources are being utilized at a glance and leads to more data-driven decisions being made as opposed to relying on gut-feel.
Bridgit Bench is the leading resource management and workforce planning tool in the construction industry because we’re constantly working to provide our clients with the information they need to keep their business as profitable as possible. Our Forecasting Dashboard provides operations teams with accurate insight into their workforce utilization rates to help them optimize their capacity planning, make informed decisions around recruitment, and better understand the impact of future project bids. On top of that, we’ve designed Bridgit Bench to be an easy-to-use solution that everyone in your organization will feel comfortable using.
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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