Construction manpower planning meetings have come a long way in the last decade with new technologies emerging, seemingly everyday. Now, it seems like more and more construction companies are switching to cloud-based tools for workforce planning instead of whiteboard or spreadsheet systems that only allow operations teams to plan for the day, or for the spreadsheet savvy – a few weeks ahead. While that method of construction manpower planning works for the short term, technology has filled the gaps in the process and allows for construction companies to plan their workforce allocations months ahead and gain a competitive edge because of it.
There has been some hesitation in adopting tech in construction, and understandably so. The construction industry was overlooked by the tech industry as many tech companies attempted to build tools that could reach out and accommodate every piece of low hanging fruit they could find. Many different tools were developed, and while they may have been great tools for low-hanging industries, those tools repeatedly fell short of meeting the specific needs of construction companies looking to plan their workforce allocations effectively. Adaptive, customizable tools that can provide relevant data to make the best decisions regarding your workforce and give you a leg up in a highly competitive industry.
Spreadsheets keep you in the mix, technology gives you an edge.
Many tools have been recently developed that not only allow you to plan and communicate your workforce allocations effectively, but to also optimize your workforce plan by leveraging experience, availability, project histories, future forecasting, and scenario running. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the technology your operations team should be leveraging to ensure your construction manpower planning meetings are at their most effective. Cloud-based tools that are updated in real-time are paving a new path for operations teams to navigate new and better ways to prepare, organize, and communicate their workforce strategy. For more information about manpower planning in general, check out our guide to construction manpower planning.
Successful projects will always start from the top down – a leadership team that plans effectively and communicates those plans from the office to the job site will find that effective planning and communication will carry over to the project teams as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the top cloud-based tools you should be using to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of your construction manpower planning process.
Video conferencing tools
Construction has a lot of moving parts and members of your operations team may not always be able to be present for all of your manpower meetings. There have been many video conferencing tools that have been developed (many of which are free to use) that will enable all relevant stakeholders to join and contribute when they can’t be physically present. This helps operations stay aligned on project decisions that are being made, and also provides a consistent method for remote stakeholders to contribute.
Most video conferencing tools will allow you to set a recurring calendar invite so you won’t have to send out invites repeatedly. Stakeholders will be able to easily join your meeting should they be out of office or working from home, and if everyone is present – perfect! No one from google hangouts or Skype is going to come knocking if the conference call doesn’t happen. As we’ve mentioned in our recent “how to run a remote manpower meeting” blog post, it would be ideal if you can set up a meeting facilitator that can get the conference call set up if it’s needed, and share whatever project data your meeting is being centred around. In short, using a video conferencing tool will allow you to:
Ensure all relevant stakeholders are present, aligned on strategy, and able to contribute
Set up recurring calendar invites so your team can easily join your meeting
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system helps to manage all your customer data. It can deliver actionable insights for active pursuits and helps to facilitate team communication. Cloud-based CRM systems will allow you to quickly and easily access any projects you are actively pursuing. It’s a good idea to have your meeting facilitator keep your CRM on hand during manpower meetings and include all active pursuits to help forecast the impact future projects will potentially have on your workforce plan. Including your pursuits will also allow you to identify gaps where potential bids can be slotted into your project timeline, and help to indicate when you’ll need to expand your team to take on new projects.
Some CRM tools your organization might want to look further into include:
Cosential – Perfect for construction companies that want the best combination of features for the price
Salesforce – A consistent industry leader with numerous robust features
Buildertrend – Ideal for construction companies that need a complete mobile CRM with customer and collaboration tools
JobNimbus – A simple construction CRM for basic sales, project, and workflow management
Note: When evaluating CRM systems, it’s important to keep in mind: cost, ease of use, accessibility, project and proposal management, reporting, analytics, and top notch customer support. Not all CRMs will be ideal for construction, here is a link of Capterra’s highest reviewed CRM systems for you to use as a starting point.
3. Construction Workforce planning software
Last but definitely not least you will want to include, or in some cases introduce, a construction workforce planning solution that will give you high visibility over your entire workforce and their respective project allocations. Your construction workforce planning software should allow you to streamline your allocation process and identify potential over and under allocated projects to help mitigate risk and increase productivity. It will also help to monitor individual team members for over and under allocations to ensure you aren’t leaving anyone “on the bench” when there’s work to be done, or spreading your team too thin.
Your workforce planning software should also be able to provide actionable insights into future planning, including forecasting future workforce needs and identifying the impact project pursuits will have on your workforce allocations. The best construction workforce planning software will also be customizable and allow you to track relevant experience, certifications, and project history for each member of your team to ensure you’re consistently putting the best team possible on every project. In short, you’ll want to ensure your construction workforce planning solution:
Allows your operations team to visualize your workforce plan in relation to you project timeline
Identifies over and under allocations to mitigate risk
Streamlines your allocation processes
Allows for capacity planning and future forecasting
Is customizable to your organizational needs
Provides historical context for projects and people
Bridgit Bench, for example, is a construction workforce planning solution that was built specifically for the industry. It has a robust Project Gantt that can house your entire workforce planning process and is perfect for keeping your operations team engaged during construction manpower planning meetings. It allows your team to easily visualize project allocations, identifies over allocated team members, and helps to ensure you have the right people on the right projects at the right time.
Optional tool – Digital whiteboards
Digital whiteboards allow your team to share and collaborate remotely on work that is being done. You can add multiple sources of information from different applications to a single screen without having to switch through them and it allows your team to create notes and collaborate on project details and workflows. You can create a whiteboard for individual projects and display all relevant information from your workforce planning software and CRM tools. Digital whiteboards aren’t necessary to run effective manpower meetings, but they do allow you to consolidate your data from different sources, and are pretty fun to use as well. It’s worth taking a look, highfive has created a list of their top digital whiteboards for remote meetings.
No matter which cloud-based technologies you choose to integrate into your tech stack, your operations team will benefit from the addition of software like Bridgit Bench, built specifically to streamline your construction workforce planning process and allow your team to collaborate at a higher level.
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. Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram.
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