How long-term people planning helps general contractors stay proactive with project planning, bidding, and recruitment

How long-term people planning helps general contractors stay proactive with project planning, bidding, and recruitment

Construction is a long game. Mid-size projects can take anywhere from 6-9 months to complete and larger projects can easily take over a year. Given how far into the future a project can stretch, we’re often surprised to learn that long-term people planning is a common challenge since most of the workforce planning that’s being done is only looking out a couple of months. 

To start firing on all cylinders, general contractors need an integrated approach to people planning–an approach that offers one unified, long-term view of what success looks like. But building an integrated, long-term approach to people planning is a lot easier said than done if you aren’t using the right tool for the job. Workforce planning can take upwards of 14 hours every week if it’s being done manually, which is typically managed by a single gatekeeper of workforce information, including upcoming availability.

Think about how many departments rely on knowing your team’s availability to do their work and how planning further out could help them. Nearly all of them, right?

Why spreadsheets lead to short-term planning

Spreadsheets have served their purpose for decades, but times have changed and they don’t cut it in today’s digital-first world. There’s simply too much time being spent maintaining workforce data in spreadsheets to only produce a 2-month look-ahead with no ability to forecast upcoming needs.

On top of the time being spent, spreadsheet solutions aren’t built to scale as a company grows. More people join the team, more projects are undertaken, and the workforce planning process becomes messier, more complicated, and creates more unproductive work for operations teams.

“We started where most companies start, with an Excel spreadsheet. We found that as we grew, it just wasn’t a successful model because we didn’t have adaptability, changes were hard, and there was really no forecasting ability.”

Shawn Gallant, Senior Vice President at Columbia Construction Co.

To stay competitive in this increasingly digitized era, contractors can’t be relying on dated tools for their core processes. Tools like Bridgit Bench, our workforce planning solution, help contractors plan out as far as they want (up to 5 years). On top of that foresight, contractors can also include project pursuits to better understand how each one will impact their staffing pipeline, run specific scenarios to see the impact on their team’s utilization and use their team’s skills, experience, and client relationships to create more enticing bids.

“Pretty much all our department heads have access to Bridgit Bench. HR knows where people are working and marketing can dig into when jobs are finishing to create promotion plans. Even accounting has information without having to chase people down.”

Shawn Gallant, Senior Vice President at Columbia Construction Co.

Read more about how Columbia Construction Co. has empowered its team with long-term people planning.

6 benefits of long-term people planning in construction

Planning your people further ahead directly impacts nearly every aspect of your company from worker satisfaction to project bidding. With the right system in place and a unified view of your entire workforce, here are a few of the benefits you will experience:

1. Better workforce planning

Accurate visibility of your teams’ skills, experience, and certifications combined with accurate forecasting of project needs helps to plan in a more strategic, meaningful way. Having access to historical project data helps to staff more effectively for future projects without the headache of consolidating data from multiple sources.

2. Proactive recruitment

With accurate forecasting and visibility into upcoming project needs, HR can create recruitment strategies to avoid last-minute hiring. Given the current challenges finding skilled and craft workers, having that extra time to properly evaluate candidates is something HR will greatly benefit from.

3. Better bidding

When business development and marketing teams onboard Bridgit Bench, they have the ability to see where their people are, what they’re doing, and where they could go next. This in turn helps the organization bid on the right projects, at the right time, improving their bid win rate.

4. Effective scheduling

By planning further ahead, you’re better equipped to allocate your people based on business needs instead of slotting in the next available person. 

For example, if you’re looking to improve client retention, you can allocate their favorite Project Manager to their upcoming project and highlight it as a top priority. With the PM and project team penciled in it eliminates the chance of anyone being double booked or overallocated and your client’s project gets the support it needs from day one.

5. Better decision making

Long-term, accurate people planning can be used to make informed decisions with your workforce and track the impact of those decisions. Having visibility of allocation start and end dates, project locations, utilization rates, skills and experience, and upcoming project needs makes identifying trends and future areas of opportunity much easier.

6. Workforce retention

When your entire team is accounted for and able to be assigned to projects best suited for their expertise, it’s inevitable that they will be more engaged in their work and your company. According to Gallup, if offered a 20% raise with another company, only 37% of engaged workers would even consider leaving, almost 20% less than their unengaged counterparts.

Creating long-term strategies can also help identify gaps in team member allocations between projects. These gaps can be opportunities to present additional training or career-building experiences for your people. Showing your team that you support their career development can help to significantly reduce employee turnover, and also makes your company more attractive to potential candidates. The next generation of construction professionals wants to know they have a future at your company.

Bridgit Bench is the tool of choice for long-term people planning

Bridgit Bench provides long-term people planning and foresight that simply cannot be achieved using basic spreadsheets or manual processes. The best part about it is that the more you use it, the more intelligent it gets. The more data you put into it, the better the insights you’ll get out of it.

These insights give a better understanding of your business, employee, and customer needs. To learn more about Bridgit Bench, you can take a quick tour, or book a demo with one of our experts.

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Michel Richer

Michel Richer is the Manager of Content and Product Marketing at Bridgit. He started in the construction industry early on with a local restoration company. Michel is driven to propel the construction industry forward by helping to eliminate outdated, ineffective processes.

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