According to the Field Management Institute, 95.5% of all data captured in construction goes unused. Information like documents and workflows, schedules and execution strategies can help solve issues with active projects and it could also be used to make informed decisions on future projects.
We rarely make decisions in our personal lives on impulse alone. We retreat into our minds, even if only for a split second, and use our past experiences to make an informed choice.
Our memories are imperfect though, they’re often twisted and we lost details that were vivid. Instead of relying on clear memory, we access patterns of experience, where similar things have occurred and based on those patterns we can gauge the best course of action.
Construction projects are similar to this because they contain a level of complexity that can’t be repeated. Since each one of them is slightly different, we need to rely on patterns of experience to guide us. This is where your data comes into play. First, you have to track it, then you have to find the relevant patterns in it that can help you repeat past successes and, equally important, avoid past mistakes.
With labor costs accounting for 20-40% of every construction project, we wanted to take a look at some of the data our customers are tracking to create informed workforce strategies. We also wanted to shine a light on who this data benefits, and how.
Sharing information leads to better collaboration
Workforce planning is typically housed in a series of spreadsheets and overseen by one (or two) members of the operations team. The data often becomes stale as it’s difficult to maintain, and the lack of collaboration leads to workforce data being siloed off.
Bridgit Bench, our workforce intelligence platform, helps operations teams give more people a seat at the table. With most of our customers coming from the single-spreadsheet-user approach, here’s a look at the teams that are using Bridgit Bench the most to help inform their work:
Operations team – The operations team is using workforce data and analytics to build stronger project teams based on experience and skills, manage project delays and the impact they have on the project pipeline, and allocate resources more effectively with utilization oversight.
Executive team – The executive team has a holistic view of their workforce strategy and project pipeline. They can identify any gaps in the pipeline and by tracking project pursuits have a better understanding of where they win and lose bids, and which projects are most profitable.
Preconstruction team – The preconstruction team is planning roles and allocations for future projects. This benefits the estimating team by better understanding the available team members and their experience. This helps to put forward more enticing bids and avoid late crew build up, which according to Whirlwind Steel, has a 10% impact on productivity on the project.
Human resources team – The HR team is looking at project demand and comparing it against their workforce capacity. By identifying pinch points where demand exceeds supply HR teams can create informed recruitment strategies and reduce last minute hiring.
Across the board, we see the same data points being used for different purposes. For example, the same information about your projects can be used differently by your operations team or your pre-construction team. This points to the fact that it’s essential you develop a central hub of data that everyone can access. In Bridgit Bench, we go one step further and give you the ability to limit access to information based on different permission groups.
Forecasting and planning ahead
Here’s a look at some of the data our customers use to plan ahead and create a better project pipeline:
Utilization rates are calculated using the amount of time your team spends working on projects vs. the total amount of time that employee is available to work. In short, what’s the billing efficiency of your team?
Low utilization rates, especially when looking ahead at the project pipeline, can help identify where new projects can be taken on so you aren’t leaving any money sitting on the bench with underutilized resources. This is great information for preconstruction, sales, and estimating teams to understand how each bid will impact the workforce strategy.
High utilization rates can help identify when your team is, or will be, spread too thin. This is valuable information for any HR teams that are looking to avoid last minute hiring and late team build up.
Our utilization report can be filtered, and broken down to help narrow the focus of the report. Amongst our customers, the utilization rate is most commonly broken down by:
- Title – Title provides insight into any skill gaps that might require some attention.
- Region – Region provides insight into how other offices are using their resources, and if there are any offices that could supply workers if need be.
- Department – Department helps to see how different teams are being utilized within your organization.
PROJECT DEMAND VS WORKFORCE SUPPLY
This can be tricky to keep up to date in a spreadsheet system, but the insight it can provide is invaluable. This requires calculating the project roles needed to complete all the work in your pipeline, and an up-to-date team roster to compare against. This helps with:
- Pinch points – A pinch point is where your project demand exceeds your workforce supply, or vice versa. Knowing these pinch points can help inform recruitment strategies when the supply is too low, and project bidding when there’s too little work for the team in place.
- Scenario running – Knowing your demand and supply into the coming months/years helps to run scenarios with project pursuits to better understand the impact each pursuit will have. This can be a game changer with lots of active bids and can help narrow in on the ones that should be pursued more aggressively.
Using our Strategic Workforce Plan Report, our customers also apply filters for specific roles and titles to identify any gaps that will require new team members or additional training within the organization. The teams that use this report the most are:
- Operations teams
- Executive teams
- Human Resources
Getting your ducks in a row usually starts from the top down. It’s no surprise that the most commonly applied filters to the report are:
- Project Manager
The insight that utilization and project demand reports provide can be used by multiple departments. For example, this information would be great for human resources to create recruitment strategies, or for sales and marketing to identify any gaps in the pipeline that need to be filled.
What data do our customers track to make informed decisions?
Because Bridgit Bench is completely customizable, we see a lot of different custom fields being tracked from customer to customer. Having insight into what other contractors are tracking can help identify gaps in your own data. Here’s a look at the most commonly added custom fields.
The most commonly added people fields to Bridgit Bench are:
- Region/Office – This helps contractors see the big picture, and also dial in on specific regions or offices.
- Certifications – Tracking certifications can help keep everyone up to date and ensure projects have the certifications they need to move forward.
- Salary – This information can be kept private from the larger team, and our integrations with HR software ensures it’s always up to date.
- Willing to travel – This helps identify team members that are willing to relocate, which can be helpful when other offices/regions are spread too thin and need support
- Department – Tracking which department team members belong to can help identify teams that are spread too thin and need additional support, or teams that more work is needed for.
- Division/Experience – Building a project team? Tracking division and experience can help ensure the people on your projects are the best fit for the respective roles.
The most commonly added project fields to Bridgit Bench are:
- Region/Office – Similar to people fields, tracking this for projects helps contractors see the bigger picture, but also narrow their focus to specific offices or regions
- Contract stage – Tracking contract stage helps contractors differentiate awarded projects from ongoing bids and project pursuits.
- Build type – This is incredibly useful when building project teams and helps identify team members with relevant experience to take on the project.
- Project Value – Project value can help prioritize projects based on their expected return.
- Project Probability – Tracking the likelihood of a project being awarded helps preconstruction teams to allocate resources and better predict the impact of a single project on the rest of the pipeline.
Remember when we mentioned your data is like your organization’s brain? Tracking more data, and narrowing it down to identify what a successful project looks like from multiple angles can help discover those patterns of experience that help you make better decisions. We’ve seen customers go from gut-feel decision-making to assembling stronger project teams based on work experience, skill sets, and certifications that are relevant to the project. Tracking more information can take longer to maintain, which is why we integrated Bridgit Bench to pull this information from your existing tools, but anyone with the right initiative can certainly begin tracking this information in whichever tool they prefer for workforce planning.