Effective construction workforce planning combines two crucial elements for any general contractor: ensuring your people have projects, and your projects have the required people. Sounds simple right? Well, with all the moving parts that go into every construction project it can quickly become a complicated process, but the most successful construction companies will always strive to have the right people on the right projects at the right time. Human capital is often the largest expense a construction company can incur, so ensuring your operations team has a workforce management solution in place to optimize your labor allocations is paramount to building a strategic and efficient workforce plan.
How our clients use customizations to their advantage
When our clients are allocating their project teams, they’re often looking at their workforce from multiple angles to ensure they have the right mix of skill sets, experience with similar projects, and high performing individuals to build a strong project team with a high likelihood of project profitability. Having a proper construction workforce management tool in place helps to ensure your Project Manager isn’t only available to take on a new project, but is also the best suited Project Manager for the specific project.
Our tool, Bridgit Bench, gives our clients the ability to customize their team member profiles to track any fields relevant to their company needs. When it comes time to allocate their project teams, our clients are then able to filter on those specific fields to narrow their search for the best-fit individuals. Being able to easily access this data for workforce planning empowers operations teams to allocate project teams that complement each other’s skill sets and experience level. The end result? Project teams that work well together and get the job done.
The workforce planning process goes beyond allocating based solely on title. Many operations teams will spend a lot of time and money to make sure they’re putting their best team forward when starting a new project or project phase. Bridgit’s construction workforce management solution helps to streamline this process, while also helping to better understand and improve workforce utilization.
Almost all of our clients migrated to Bridgit Bench after struggling to keep up with multiple spreadsheets or after trying to force software solutions, unfit for the adaptive nature of construction, to work for them. That’s the beauty of Bridgit Bench – it allows our clients to consolidate all the data from their spreadsheet systems in one approachable tool, and was built specifically for construction without the unneeded bells and whistles of software that isn’t industry specific. It also allows for a more collaborative team effort, enables data driven decision-making for project allocations, and provides visibility to the workforce plan so everyone is aligned on workforce strategy and goals. For more information about workforce management, check out our guide to construction workforce management.
Let’s take a look at the top custom fields our clients are using to track their people and streamline their workforce planning process.
Note: Title and availability are the most commonly used fields when allocating project teams, but since Bridgit Bench will automatically filter for those fields, we’re going to look a little deeper into the custom fields our clients have created to optimize their teams.
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Top three custom fields our clients use for construction workforce planning
1. Region or office
Similar to real estate, location can be “make or break” when allocating your people. When allocating team members, our clients will often filter their workforce based on the region or office they are working out of. Since projects are often in various locations, filtering on specific regions or offices not only helps to ensure that offices keep their resources separate from one another, but also helps team members by avoiding long, unneeded commutes to the job site on a daily basis.
Unlike most industries, in construction there are several locations to consider when creating a workforce plan. General contractors have to consider the company office, the job site, and where individual team members live. That’s why an individual’s region or office is one of the top custom fields that our clients leverage. Keeping people close to home also keeps them happy, which leads to reduced turnover and allows team members to minimize travel costs and maximize time spent with their families. Construction is not a typical 9-5 job, so anything that helps maximize time spent on site is a bonus.
In an industry where employee retention is crucial to long-term company success, keeping team members close to home will help everyone in the long run.
Region/Office Bonus tip – Will a person relocate for a project? Many teams we work with run construction projects out of state from where their offices are located. Ensuring your employee is open to relocating for a project can keep them happy, more engaged, and with your company for the long term.
2. Build-type experience
The next most common custom field our clients use references experience on a specific build-type. Many of our clients prefer to have their projects broken down into specific build-types, and in doing so will also create a custom people field to reflect experience on those specific build-types. These build-types include:
Educational – K-12
Educational – Higher education
The ability to quickly filter on specific team member experience can go a long way when streamlining workforce planning and also helps to ensure you’re assembling the best team for the job. Matching previous experience with current and upcoming projects can also help to instill confidence in project clients by reassuring that they’re getting the best bang for their buck. It may seem like a minor detail to a project client, but having confidence that their general contractor is looking out for them can mean the difference between repeat business and a one-time job.
Tracking and filtering on build-type experience can also help when sudden issues arise and you need to quickly replace a team member with someone that has similar experience and won’t slow the momentum of the build down.
3. Employee strength rating or ranking
Another commonly used custom field is employee strength rating, or ranking. Creating this custom field allows operations teams to rate employees based on their ability to perform. We often see a simple rating system from 1-5 that helps to indicate if individuals are able to work with minimal oversight, or might require a second set of eyes from time to time. For example, you may want to pair a strong Project Coordinator that requires little oversight with a new Site Super that would most benefit from having a strong coordinator on site.
Typically, we’ll see clients assign an individual’s rating based on a scale of one to five. Five is a top performer and one is a low performer. Obviously it would be ideal to have only fours and fives in your organization and on every project, but that is simply not the reality in the construction industry’s current job market. Individual ratings help give operations teams insight when building out project teams, or moving people around, so they can get a good mix of talent on their projects. It helps with performance reviews tracking employee development over time, and also gives operation teams the ability to put strong performers on more complicated projects or with specific clients. These rankings provide better insight into the individual strengths and weaknesses that are being allocated to a project.
Note: These fields can be kept private to ensure individuals aren’t needlessly boasting to one another about being a 5 when someone else is a 4. Everyone has their strengths, and this is about allowing individual strengths to complement each other to ensure project success.
If you’d like some insight into how our clients are using custom fields to track projects, check out our top 4 custom fields our clients use to track projects.
Construction workforce planning in the time of COVID-19
It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the way workforce planning is being done. Bridgit Bench has seen higher than ever usage during the pandemic as general contractors are being forced to shift project dates and team member allocations on a daily basis. Our clients have also leveraged custom people fields during this time to better prepare and react to the ever-changing strategies being implemented to handle the outbreak. Some of the custom people fields our clients have created include:
Team members that are under quarantine or require sick leave
Travel history in the last 2 weeks
Team members that are COVID-19 positive, or presumptive positive
Bridgit Bench is the leading construction workforce planning solution. The reason for that is simple – it was built specifically for the adaptive nature of the construction industry. It provides a level of customization and flexibility that solutions built to satisfy the needs of multiple industries simply cannot. Bridgit is helping general contractors across North America embrace the digital transformation of their core operational processes by offering powerful cloud-based solutions that can house all necessary project and workforce data. Bridgit Bench allows for a seamless transition from manual processes by emphasizing approachability – making workforce planning a more informed and collaborative process.
Troy is passionate about connecting with general contractors to learn about their business needs and how technology can help drive them forward. Troy has 3+ years of experience with streamlining and optimizing both construction workforce planning & punch list and inspection management processes for general contractors. If you would like to learn more about Bridgit’s industry leading construction workforce management solution, connect with Troy on Linkedin.
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