Having access to accurate and reliable preconstruction data is the equivalent of having a detailed roadmap for a long journey. This data, encompassing a variety of elements from cost estimates and site conditions to workforce availability, lays the foundation for every successful construction project. It’s an invaluable tool that guides key decisions, shapes strategies, and helps anticipate challenges.
As with any map, the usefulness of the data is only as good as its accuracy. Faulty or inadequate data presents a substantial risk to the smooth execution of any construction project, potentially leading to cost overruns, time delays, and compromised building quality.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the perils of poor preconstruction data, centered around the workforce. Workforce data plays a critical role in understanding the utilization and availability of your people – a key factor in project success. If this information isn’t reliable, you run the risk of underutilizing or overworking your team, which can have serious implications for project profitability, efficiency, and team morale.
The perils of poor preconstruction data
Quality preconstruction data is a part of the backbone of any construction project. It influences everything from project feasibility assessments, cost estimates, site conditions, labor availability, to the final execution plan.
When this data is inaccurate or incomplete it can lead to a chain reaction of setbacks, each potentially more damaging than the last.
- Cost overruns: Inaccurate preconstruction data can lead to significant discrepancies between projected costs and actual expenses. Misestimates in labor costs, material prices, or site preparation requirements can cause budgets to spiral out of control.
- Project delays: Inadequate data may result in unforeseen challenges that stall progress. Issues such as incomplete building schematics, availability of materials, or labor shortages can lead to time-consuming revisions and rescheduling.
- Poor building quality: Ultimately, faulty preconstruction data can impact the quality of the final project. When resources are stretched thin or schedules are rushed to compensate for earlier misestimations, the result is often a compromise in workmanship and overall project quality.
The importance of quality preconstruction workforce data
Workforce data is a vital subset of preconstruction data. Since most preconstruction managers try to track their teams using spreadsheets, workforce data isn’t even available aside from task assignments.
So what is preconstruction workforce data?
It’s the information about the workforce’s size, skills, availability, task assignments, and projected utilization.
Accurate preconstruction workforce data allows managers to make informed decisions about task allocation, timeline development, and resource planning. Knowing who’s available, their skill sets and their current and future commitments will enhance project planning and execution.
Understanding the utilization rate of your preconstruction team is particularly important because the highest risk factor in poor project outcomes is the inefficient use of human capital. On the one hand, underutilization of the workforce can lead to decreased profitability because you’re leaving work on the table you have the capacity to complete.
On the other hand, overutilization can result in burnout, dissatisfaction, and higher turnover rates, which have their own set of costly implications like the inefficient use of time and project delays.
How you can mitigate risk
These risks aren’t inevitable though, but to mitigate them you’ll have to take proactive steps to improve data quality and accuracy. Once that’s in place, it’s easier to make short-term corrections coinciding with the ebbs and flows of a project. Here are the steps you can take:
- Prioritize data quality: The first step is to recognize the importance of data quality and make it a priority. This includes not just the collection of data but also its analysis, interpretation, and use in decision-making processes.
- Employ digital tools: Construction workforce planning tools like Bridgit Bench have specific features centered around the preconstruction workflow. They make it easy to assign people to tasks, shift project dates, and hand information off to your construction operations team, all in real time.
- Regular updates and reviews: Workforce data is dynamic, constantly changing with the project’s progress and the personal circumstances of team members. Regular updates and reviews of this data can help ensure its accuracy and relevance.
- Train and Develop Staff: Ensure that staff members at all levels understand the importance of accurate data and are trained to collect, analyze, and use it effectively. This includes project managers, supervisors, and any other relevant project stakeholders.
Understanding and correctly utilizing workforce data isn’t a nice to have, it’s a necessity in construction today. Without it, you run the risk of being inefficient. But even worse than that, you run the risk of consistently reacting rather than planning. Adding that up across dozens of projects and years is a recipe for stress and lost growth.
Looking to be more strategic with your people?
We partnered with Construction Dive to outline the steps any contractor can take to be more strategic with their workforce management.