We’ve all been there. We’ve all rolled our eyes when we get a sales call or email, but you might be surprised to hear that you can gain a lot of insight from talking through whatever ‘next best thing’ a salesperson is trying to talk to you about. It doesn’t mean you have to buy anything, but it gives you a chance to:
- See if key players in your industry are doing something you aren’t, and
- Have an external source examine your current process
I’ve worked in construction technology sales for a little over three years. Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day, I want people to buy our workforce planning software, Bridgit Bench, because I know it can help any contractor allocate their people and forecast their needs more effectively, but that is far from my only goal.
My goal is to help.
Over the last three years, I’ve spoken with hundreds of contractors, specifically about their workforce planning. I’ve sat with operations managers, construction executives, construction managers, business development managers, directors of pre-construction, and asked questions about their current workforce planning process, the tools they use, and the challenges that come along with them.
Today, I wanted to share one of the challenges that contractors have brought up consistently: visibility into their workforce planning, or ‘workforce visibility’.
What challenges with workforce visibility do I hear about in construction?
1. Information sharing
This is the big one. As a service-based industry, the workforce is the lifeblood of every contractor, but because workforce planning spreadsheets tend to become highly personalized to the individual that’s using them, the information gets siloed. Nearly every department can use workforce data to inform their work. Whether it’s building stronger project teams, understanding availability for project bids, or recruitment forecasting, contractors have expressed to me the need for improved visibility of their workforce across the organization.
2. Team bandwidth
Another common challenge that I hear about when it comes to workforce planning is understanding team bandwidth. Construction is a very dynamic industry. At any given time, there are multiple projects of different sizes and scopes with different schedules and resource needs. A lack of visibility into how their people are being utilized, their skills, and their work history often leads to a plug-and-play approach to workforce allocations, meaning that contractors are simply allocating the next available person instead of identifying the best person for the project role.
3. Gaps between projects
Another difficulty that I’ve heard is dealing with gaps between projects. I’ve spoken with several contractors that have lost skilled workers because there just wasn’t any work for them between projects. In most cases, though, there were projects that could have used their help, but a lack of visibility into when people were coming off of projects left them feeling stranded and seeking work elsewhere.
4. Being adaptable and flexible
When workforce information is siloed from the larger team, it means everyone’s work becomes reactionary. With no insight into team bandwidth, skills, experience, client relations, and upcoming project needs, contractors are often forced into the plug-and-play approach because their workforce strategy isn’t adaptive to change.
Sharing information and improving visibility can help your teams be proactive in their work and make fewer gut decisions in the eleventh hour. With insight into team bandwidth, skills, experience, client relations, and upcoming project needs, nearly every department that makes up a contractor is better equipped to plan proactive, flexible strategies.
How everyone benefits from visibility into workforce planning
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of improved workforce visibility across your organization:
With improved visibility into team bandwidth and individual skills and experience, your operations team can assemble stronger, balanced project teams across your project pipeline.
They can also identify any gaps between projects where team members are being underutilized, or adversely, they can identify when their team is being spread too thin, which could lead to burnout and decreased retention. With this information, operations teams can create balanced workloads that ensure everyone is able to do high-quality work.
For larger organizations, it gives operations a window into how other offices and regions are using their workforce as well. If one office’s workforce is being underutilized, there may be opportunities to fill gaps in another office’s pipeline if team members are willing to travel for work.
“Workforce planning has become a communal effort. We understand who’s going where, and no single project leader decides their own staff. We do it all together for the greater good of the project and the greater good of the organization. It really fosters collaboration and alignment in the end.”
- David Ieroncig, VP Construction at Broccolini
Read our full Broccolini case study.
Being able to compare upcoming project needs against their current workforce’s availability, HR is able to create proactive recruitment strategies to ensure every project can be staffed appropriately. Not only that, it gives them the time they need to properly evaluate candidates that will add value to your team and company culture.
With a window into workforce data, HR can also ensure that certifications are being kept up to date and create clear career paths for their team members based on their skills and project history.
“Because we have greater clarity about what stage in the project we are on and when resources will be available for another project, we can be confident regarding recruitment decisions.”
- Grace Paladino, Director of HR at SKYGRiD Construction
Read our full SKYGRiD case study.
With visibility into your team’s project allocations, your pre-construction team can start penciling in project teams to better understand the impact upcoming projects are going to have on the overall workforce strategy.
That means no more missing out on projects because it was assumed there weren’t enough available people. It can also inform which projects are pursued more aggressively, and which might not be a good fit based on available resources.
“Our jobs are constantly changing. New ones are coming in and a job might go away for some reason. I keep Bridgit Bench open every day because I click one thing and everything updates in real-time.”
- Tyler Ganyo, Preconstruction Provider & Partner at DesCor Builders
Read our full DesCor Builders case study.
Executives and leadership
Improving workforce visibility gives your leadership team a bird’s eye view of how and where their workforce is being utilized. This can help guide growth strategies. If your people are being stretched too thin, it means you need to focus on recruitment efforts to meet your project needs. If your team is being underutilized, it means you might need to source a few more projects to keep everyone busy and happy.
It also provides a window into your top performers, which can help identify team members that are ready to move up the company ladder into leadership roles of their own.
“Bridgit Bench has helped us gain a high-level understanding of our resource needs. It helps us forecast future project needs, and speed up resource planning meetings through a single construction workforce intelligence solution.”
- Todd Wynne, Chief Innovation Officer at Rogers O’Brien
Read our full Rogers O’Brien case study.
Construction is a dynamic industry. Things change — a lot. The most effective workforce strategies are adaptive and reflect the dynamic nature of the projects they need to support. A better understanding of your team’s capacity can certainly help inform project bidding and eliminate the idle time between projects, but it requires that everyone has the information they need to make the best decisions for your people. If you’re interested in talking about your workforce planning process, feel free to reach out or book a demo with one of our experts.