The 4th annual Advancing Construction Quality conference was recently held in Denver, CO. The conference brings together leading general contractors, subcontractors, and construction technology companies with one simple focus: putting quality at the heart of company culture.
This is the only national event that brings hundreds of leaders in Quality Management, Assurance, and Control together with Operations teams to share best practices, lessons learned, and the tools and processes that can help reduce rework and drive quality excellence at every stage of the project lifecycle.
The team at Bridgit had the opportunity to attend the conference and a few key sessions. Here are 2 key takeaways from our time in Denver:
Connecting data and digitizing processes
Did you know that 70% of the construction industry is still using paper-based processes? I mean, at its core, this isn’t that surprising of a statistic. Construction projects are incredibly complex and it wasn’t until around 2015 that computers actually had the processing power to crunch buildings in 3D, put them in the cloud, and locate and visualize them.
What is shocking about this statistic, though, is that most of these paper-based processes get thrown out once a project is complete. Have you ever read a book that you thought was just loaded with great information? Did you throw it out once you were done reading it? Most likely, that book is still sitting on a shelf nearby loaded with bookmarks or post-its for easy reference.
Think of your company’s data the same way. Sure, every project is unique, but many of the challenges that a project will face are not. The ability to reference previous work can help to repeat past successes, but more importantly, can help avoid past mistakes that caused rework or project delays. $280 billion is spent on rework every year, which is a direct outcome of poor data management, transference, and communications. $280 billion. In an industry with margins as tight as construction, understanding how your historical data can influence active projects can help keep them productive and profitable.
Here’s an example: Quality Directors are actively involved in the people allocation process. They are acutely aware of the skills of each manager and understand the skill deficiencies of a team when it’s put together during workforce planning meetings. When there’s a lot of employee churn at a company, the job becomes more difficult and project teams inevitably have skill gaps because they simply can’t source the right labour.
How can Bridgit Bench help with this? Your operations team is able to use historical workforce data to assemble better project teams from the top down. It also helps to put a focus on a “culture of quality” and improvement by using historical data to make better decisions around their team’s career development, which can help reduce the churn and skill gaps that ultimately cause a variety of rework and issues on site.
That’s not all. Because you’ve digitized the workforce planning process you can also look at your upcoming projects and forecast your project demand. This helps give your HR team the time they need to hire high quality candidates which, in turn, produce high quality work for your company.
An executive that we spoke with summed it up best: “If process is quality, then every Quality Director or Executive should be thinking about Bridgit Bench, as this is the first step in the process – putting together a high-performing team and reducing employee attrition.”
The impact of the labor shortage
Here’s another statistic that stood out from the conference – 80% of construction companies are struggling to hire trade workers. This isn’t too surprising given the industry still needs a quarter of a million workers to match the demand for 2021 and well, it’s October. What is surprising, though, is that this has resulted in contractors now paying top dollar for top talent, which may not be the key when appealing to the next generation of construction professionals.
So what are contractors doing that’s having an impact on their recruitment efforts? In a lot of ways, it’s simply creating a better working environment for new team members to learn and develop their skills. The next generation of construction professionals also want to see a clear career path in front of them and the steps they need to take to achieve their goals.
Some contractors have even introduced top-down and bottom-up mentoring programs where they create a mutual relationship between their senior and junior employees. The junior employee gets the broad expertise of someone that’s been actively involved in the industry for many years, and the senior employee gets the benefit of having a tech savvy apprentice around. They’ve essentially created a “sweet spot” in their mentorship program that fosters a culture of learning for everyone. There’s a better sense of comradery and trust between senior and junior team members, and everyone is working together to produce quality work.
While Bridgit Bench can help make sure you have the right people, on the right projects, at the right time, it also provides a context for your team members’ career development. Contractors are able to make sure they have balanced project teams so their junior staff is well supported, and are better prepared to provide experiential learning opportunities along the way. In short – they know where their team members are coming from so they can better prepare them for their future within the company.