10 Tips to Help Subcontractors Mitigate Risk

10 Tips to Help Construction Subcontractors Mitigate Risk & Avoid Construction Legal Claims


What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? Wrong! Foreseen and Unforeseen risk is a major factor that proper handling of can make or break your project’s safety and profitability.


The answer: proper risk management and construction legal claims avoidance.

The secret weapon: mobile and cloud-based project management and document control software.

Mitigate Risks

Here are 10 ways that subcontractors can mitigate risk on their projects:


1. Be aware of risks before tackling a project

The very first step that a subcontractor must take before tackling a project is the identification of possible risk factors.  This is the most important step because if risks are not identified, how will subcontractors know what risks need to be avoided?


2. Prioritize risks

Although all risk is important, subcontractors must allocate their resources appropriately toward mitigating the risks that are most critical to a project.  To do so, a subcontractor must rank these risks according to two criteria: the likelihood of it occurring and the level of impact it would have on the project.  Once the risks are ranked accordingly, subcontractors will be able to assign the highest priority to certain risks that ranked high on both criteria.


Once a subcontractor’s risks are a physical risk identified and prioritized, two main kinds of risks that can be easily avoided with project management and document control software: occupational risk and financial risk.


An occupational risk is the physical risk to workers from internal or external conditions.  Occupational risk can be avoided by improved communication methods and creating standardized procedures for all team members both before and throughout a project life cycle.


Financial risk is the risk to profitability that subcontractors face by going up against project delays and manual errors.  Financial risk can be prevented by keeping better track of projects and using project management software to improve accuracy.


3. Set up standard steps and procedures

Risk mitigation techniques are not one size fits all.  There is no universal list of risks or steps that are suited for every subcontractor.  Each company needs to have its set of measures in place intended to mitigate risk.  There are software options in place that will aid in creating standardized procedures unique to each company. The subcontractor can take his knowledge and the aid of a project management and document control tool and create a process that will be useful across the board.  After all, nobody knows the risks specific to your project better than you.


4. Communication throughout the project life cycle

Communication is vital in both the risk avoidance and risk response phases.  In the avoidance phase, it is a tool to communicate the perceived risks to all team members and explain the steps that must be taken to avoid them.  During the project, communication devices can provide a way to get help immediately should a risky situation arise or should someone suffer an injury.


5. Training new and old employees

It is a common misconception that training need only take place in the initial onboarding process.  However, training can be a useful tool for all employees, no matter how long they have worked for a company.  It is a way to brief all staff about the new process and ensure that nobody is deviating away from the set procedures.


6. Sometimes there is risk in the reward

A risk is not always negative if it’s handled properly.  If subcontractors are always turning away projects due to risk, then they are missing out on financial gain.  Subcontractors must be able to properly assess the risk of a project and be able to control it.  Once a subcontractor can do these things, it can take on riskier projects that will lead to higher profitability and more projects in the future.


7. Keep all documents in one place

Implementing a project management and document control tool will allow you to keep all documents, reports, emails, etc. in one place where they can be indexed and easily accessed at any time.  This will significantly improve financial rewards and protect against litigation because it will allow the subcontractor to keep better track of the projects and keep more detailed and organized records that cannot be disputed.


8. Integration of applications

It is helpful for project risk mitigation to have all of a subcontractor’s applications integrated into one platform.  This allows subcontractors to avoid manual re-entry of data into different applications and runs down the risk of a mistake.  This not only makes it easier for the person entering data but also creates an easily followed trail of information by any other person who wants to access the data.


9. Constant quality assurance

An important step in the risk mitigation process is regular quality checks.  Even when risks are identified, and efforts are made to control them, there are always opportunities for things to go wrong or for unexpected risks to occur.  Because of this, someone needs to be in charge of checking for quality in a systematic and standard way.  Some project management and document control solutions offer checklists that can aid in this process by creating a list of steps specific to the project that must be checked to ensure quality.  Another benefit of project management and document control that comes in handy is its capability for a quick response.  If an unexpected risk occurs, the workers on the field will be able to communicate with all members of the team and collaborate to resolve the issue in real-time when the costs are significantly less.


10. Create a sustainable practice

Once you have a risk management solution that is suited for your company and adapted to each project, the subcontractor must make sure that this procedure is sustainable and that these efforts continue to be made as time goes on.


Learn More


The National Academies Press
Construction Executive



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Posted in Best Practices, Construction Software, Management.