Founded in 1955, Chicago-based Skender is one of the nation’s top 100 construction firms, according to Building Design & Construction, with approximately 200 employees and 2020 revenue in excess of $400 million.
“The company has an entrepreneurial spirit,” says Skender Vice President Brian Bukowski. “People at every level are empowered to roll up their sleeves, offer solutions and contribute in a meaningful way.”
Skender is recognized throughout the industry for its innovative processes, collaborative approach and exceptional client experiences.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Skender underwent some dramatic changes. The company, which was a relatively small firm at the time, experienced tremendous growth. Bukowski estimates that Skender doubled its headcount and saw revenue increase by 10 times.
The type of work Skender concentrated on also changed. To that point, Skender focused exclusively on residential and small mixed-use projects. The company began providing construction services for a wider range of property types, including tenant interiors, senior living, affordable housing, market-rate multifamily, healthcare, higher education and retail.
With growth came challenges including how to maintain the culture. This was particularly important to Skender’s employees since many had previously worked for larger firms and came to the company looking to contribute and escape the big firm culture.
Another challenge of Skender’s was workforce management. Keeping tabs on the staff was difficult. For a while, the company was using Microsoft Excel, but that ultimately proved to be ineffective.
Because jobs ebb and flow quicker on tenant interior construction jobs, which account for a large portion of Skender’s total volume, there’s careful and continuous attention to workforce resource planning.
Skender runs about 100 projects a year that can span anywhere from 10 to 30 weeks or more. The company was tracking approximately 120 employees with a specially designed Excel spreadsheet.
Although it provided Skender useful information, it was neither intuitive nor user-friendly. In addition, Bukowski notes navigation and getting information was daunting.
As for a new solution, “We needed a resource management tool that could project resource needs, assign people, and see where the gaps are,” says Bukowski. After a search, Skender settled on Bridgit Bench for its workforce management tool.
Not only does Bridgit help Skender with construction resource management, it also helps with hiring projections. “We can see that six months down the road we need X, and we don’t have enough staff,” says Bukowski, “then human resources can seek out these employees.” This ensures a continuity of services allowing Skender to provide excellent customer service while not overwhelming their staff.
Another draw to the new resource management tool was that it’s easy to grasp and use – even for those who are less comfortable with technology. “Bridgit Bench just seems to make sense – it’s intuitive,” says Bukowski. Upon adopting the management tool, Skender offered training sessions to the staff, but many employees had it figured out well before the sessions.
“With Bridgit Bench, 50% more managers are engaged actively in the process. The increased managerial input creates more awareness and more accurate information in the system. This has helped managers be more aware and not caught off guard in terms of resource management.”
Skender can easily determine how many resources they need versus resources available, the progress of a project, who they have scheduled, and for how long.
A clearer picture of resources also influences Skender’s sales team. “It helps us determine how hard to chase projects and what fees to set,” says Bukowski. “If there are gaps in a time period, we go after work more aggressively.”
When searching for a workforce management tool, mobility was also important to the Skender team. This feature, which allows Skender to check things at a glance without being at a computer, has become even more vital since COVID-19 caused many to work from home.
Another feature of Bridgit Bench that has become more key is the robust custom filtering, as each company can add their own based on need. Skender added a custom filter for COVID-19 impacts to employees and projects. For example, if a job was shut down or is on hiatus, they record it. If an employee was quarantined, that is tracked as well. “This has helped managers be more aware and not caught off guard in terms of resource management,” says Bukowski.
“Bridgit Bench helps us determine how hard to chase projects and what fees to set. If there are gaps in a time period, we go after work more aggressively.”
Brian Buckowski, Vice President at Skender
As Skender continues to grow, they have a workforce management tool that allows them to wisely utilize their resources. This helps the company continue to innovate and maintain its entrepreneurial spirit.