How data can help optimize your workforce planning

How data can help optimize your workforce planning


Many general contractors in the construction industry simply don’t have the tools in place to understand what the makeup of their workforce actually is. If that sounds familiar, you’re in the right place. Organizations likely don’t have the tools to easily access their workforce data, metrics, or workforce analytics to be able to effectively assess and manage the experience, productivity, output, and skill sets of their workforce. According to FMI, 95% of all data captured in the construction industry goes unused. That’s leaving a lot of potential knowledge and money on the table.

In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at some of the best ways you can use internal data and insights to create an improved and more efficient construction workforce plan. Taking into consideration the increasingly competitive nature of the construction industry, there’s no better time than now to start using your data to give you a competitive edge.

Standardize your construction workforce management data

Before your organization can start to leverage your workforce data, it’s crucial for you to ensure that everyone across your organization is on board with maintaining a consistent procedure. This will include if your organization spans across multiple divisions or regions. All workforce data needs to be updated and analyzed in a consistent, repeatable way. Using a central hub like an easy-to-use construction workforce planning solution will make it much easier to filter through your team to find the internal data and metrics you need to create an optimal workforce plan.

Once your organization has consolidated all of its workforce data into a formal structure and are aligned on the objectives you are aiming to achieve with it, you can allow the collection of your workforce data to give you the information you need to continue with effective construction workforce planning.

Analyze your construction workforce management data

Now that you’ve taken the steps to standardize your workforce reporting and data collection across your organization, you can begin to use your internal data to make informed decisions and bring your objectives to life.

Analyze your historical project data

Take a look at your project history and try to isolate the specifics that lead to project success. Did your project finish on schedule? Was it under budget? Keep track and take note of whether projects are successful or not so you can replicate what worked, and also avoid past missteps. This will include data like

  • Who was the project leadership team?

  • How many trackable team members were assigned to the project?

According to KPMG, only 25% of projects came within 10% of their original deadlines and just 31% of projects came within 10% of their budget in the past three years.

Tracking historical project data and understanding what worked and what didn’t will help your operations team create a workforce plan more likely to succeed – from project deadlines to budgets.

Analyze your workforce data

As you standardize your workforce and employee data across your organization, be sure to include things like relevant work experience on specific build-types, specific skill sets, which team members would be considered high performers, industry certifications, and whether or not team members would be willing to relocate for projects that would require team members to be away from home for an extended period of time. Understanding your workforce data analytics will help to:

  • Build stronger project teams for high priority projects based on strengths and experience

  • Create opportunities for experiential learning and career development

  • Ensure your team has up to date certifications

  • Maintain high employee retention by providing work close to home

  • Improve performance management and employee engagement

According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 92% of contractors report being at least moderately concerned about their workers having adequate skill levels. Analyzing and tracking your workforce data can help to ensure you’re hiring for the specific skill sets your organization needs and nurturing less experienced team members.

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Analyze your workforce utilization

Workforce utilization is defined as the percentage of billable hours out of total hours worked. In 2018, AEC performed an industry study that revealed an average utilization rate around 59%, meaning general contractors are losing a little over 40% of workforce productivity to non-billable activities. The main reason behind such low utilization is that most general contractors simply don’t use their utilization data to help inform their workforce planning.

Once you’ve gone through the process of standardizing the data you gather from your people and projects, you will be able to establish benchmarks and goals for improving the overall utilization of your project teams and individuals. This will also help to highlight if there are clients that are monopolizing your team’s time for little financial benefit, and if there are specific parts of projects where your workforce may need better training.

Analyzing your data will provide you with actionable metrics for improving your organization’s workforce utilization and will allow you to better plan resources for future projects. With a clear strategy backed by data, expectations will be clearly defined and help to reduce over allocation of resources on projects.

Analyze your workforce forecast

Analyzing your workforce utilization will also play an important role when forecasting your organization’s workforce needs moving forward. General contractors are heavily reliant on the availability of their workforce as demands from project to project are constantly changing. As a result, there is always either a shortage or surplus of available resources. Carefully analyzing your workforce forecast will help to identify trends in your availability in relation to projects and help to better understand when your organization is in need of more people, and when you have the available resources to take on new projects.

This includes running scenarios with future project bids to ensure you have the capacity to handle the workload.

Optimize your construction workforce plan

Now that you’ve taken the steps to standardize and analyze your workforce data, it’s time to put that data to work and continue using your data and real-time analytics to build an optimized, comprehensive workforce plan. Using your workforce and project data to for strategic workforce planning and decision-making should include:

  • Understanding your workforce composition and business needs

  • Creating successful project teams based on historical data

  • Accurately preparing for future projects

  • Providing career growth and developmental opportunities to reduce your skills gap

  • Maintaining a positive workforce utilization

  • Identifying at-risk projects and mitigating those risks

  • Double down on what has worked for your organization

Taking this approach into consideration and ensuring you’re tracking the right data to support your business goals will allow you to build a permanent, consistent workforce plan that will mitigate risk, improve utilization, and quite simply get the project done right and improve your bottom line, every time.

Bridgit Bench is a construction workforce planning solution that allows general contractors to customize their experience and track data that aligns with their organizational objectives. From high level information like utilization and forecasting, to specific workforce and project details like experience, skill sets, and project teams – Bridgit Bench is the industry leader in providing a centralized location to standardize and analyze data to help operations optimize their workforce plan.

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Lauren Lake

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.

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