Some fundamentals of business never change, such as the need to operate with efficiency, integrity, and transparency. Included in these overarching themes are the demand for skill and expertise, the requirement of meeting (and, today, exceeding) customer expectations, and the crunch we all face when it comes to time and budget. Other facets are continuously and rapidly evolving as subcontractors seek to maximize results while minimizing threats, such as labor shortages. Project management tools and other tech solutions have the potential to transform the skilled trades – if they can overcome the significant challenges subcontractors face with implementation.
The 5 Challenges Subcontractors Face
Today, the tools of your trade must include technology. The construction industry trails nearly every other industry when it comes to integrating solutions, despite the influx of opportunities and advancements we’ve seen in recent years. When you can overcome key challenges of implementing new technology, however, you can gain a competitive edge. What are the top challenges?
1. Integration of new technology across the digital ecosystem.
A digital ecosystem is a group of interconnected solutions that function together. It encompasses suppliers, customers, partners, data service providers, etc. More digital ecosystems are coming onto the market, and they allow you to integrate new and legacy technologies. The challenge is that you have so many options and so much information to integrate, that it can be counterproductive. Integration solutions help break down these barriers and facilitate effective communication.
2. Rationalization and standardization.
In terms of IT, rationalization is the process of identifying and evaluating the value of applications. Which ones should you keep? Update? Toss? Standardization involves creating streamlined processes that eliminate redundancy (e.g., multiple “solutions” that solve the same issues with varying levels of success) and enable greater efficiency at lower costs.
3. Worker adoption.
Getting your employees on board with new solutions is quite often a significant stumbling block, particularly within the construction industry. There’s no sense of introducing new technology if your people don’t use it. Open communication is a must, as well as training and development. But first, you need to create that buy-in. How will these solutions benefit them? What’s in it for them?
4. Cost and disruption.
At a time when labor and material costs are increasing, investing in project management tools and other technology can be a bitter pill to swallow – as is the thought of disrupting the flow of business as you figure out how to use technology effectively. At the same time, the right solutions create efficiencies and streamline operations.
5. Cyber threats.
We can’t ignore the issue of cybercrimes. Your data is at risk; that’s just the way of the world today. A sound cybersecurity plan is essential, and it is a smart move to consider cyber liability insurance as well.
The challenges subcontractors face are not insurmountable. With the right construction software provider, you will have the tools you need to adopt new technologies and begin using them to drive towards business-building goals.
The Benefits of Project Management Tools
So, imagine a world in which you’ve overcome challenges with implementing new technology. You have systems and processes up and running. You’ve integrated robust project management tools, secured buy-in from your people, and created a secure, stable digital environment. What are the benefits your subcontracting business will start to realize?
More accurate estimating.
We’re facing high demand and, often, labor shortages. Setting key milestones and estimating how long a project will take is critical so we can maximize scheduling. PM software makes it possible to input data (e.g., due dates, capacity, etc.) and calculate not only an accurate completion date but the best critical path for the project.
Strategic use of resources.
You will be able to evaluate availability and resources accurately to organize work packages and assign tasks efficiently. You can also look at your team’s capacity to determine when and where specific people are needed – even over the long-term. Additionally, you can integrate functions that allow team members to make notes on their tasks, so you can adequately track project progress in real-time.
Better budget tracking.
Staying on budget is one of the most critical aspects of life as a subcontractor – and one of the most challenging! Project management tools make it exponentially more manageable, even if you do not have an accounting department. You can also compare estimates to up-to-date costs.
With PM tools, you can share documents, calendars, and other resources among your team and enable editing and contributions. If you’re sending and receiving hundreds of emails a day, this is a feature you will find indispensable. You also eliminate the risk of errors due to double entry. If people track tasks on paper or in other places (including their heads), they are bound to be mistaken now and then. This is all avoidable with an integrated solution.
You have better things to do than waste time on repetitive tasks and writing reports. Take advantage of pre-built reports and intuitive dashboards that allow you to track progress in real-time and that free you up to pursue value-add activities.
Project management tools can enable better, more seamless communication, so you eliminate waste, redundancy, errors, and time- and money-sapping repetitive tasks. You don’t have to imagine a world in which you’ve overcome challenges of implementing new technology, specifically project management tools. You can realize those benefits now, helping your subcontracting business stand out from the competition, optimizing personnel and resources, streamlining schedules and budgeting, and increasing profit margins.
About the Author
Family-owned and -operated since 1985, East Coast Flooring & Interiors is a South Florida subcontractor specializing in commercial flooring installation. For more information or to request a free estimate, visit eastcoastfl.com or call 954-321-5721.