Construction is a stressful occupation.
According to a recent survey of workers by StrongArm Technologies, 47 percent of construction workers experience stress on the job. That stress is often caused by fairly unpredictable factors like supply chain issues, weather delays, labor shortages, change orders, and unrealistic deadlines, and it tends to fall heaviest on trade contractors.
“Owners want contractors to deliver projects on time and under budget,” explains Scott Schneider, director of OSH at Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America. “Contractors regularly use subcontractors, who are given tight deadlines to meet to ensure the contractor completes the job on time. The usual result is unrealistic expectations creating unrealistic work schedules, which increases the pressure workers feel to move faster.”
What if there were a way to gain some control over some of the most impactful stressors? There’s not much to be done about shipping delays or flooding, but you can do something about operational and project-specific processes, such as hiring, documentation, and budgeting, to gain more control over your projects.
Construction project management software streamlines processes and centralizes data so you can be sure you are running projects as efficiently as possible and you are making smart, informed decisions. The technology gives you greater insights, accountability, and flexibility so you can have some peace of mind that your projects are running smoothly.
Construction Project Management Software Addresses Key Industry Stressors
To its detriment, the construction industry lags behind others in its adoption of technology.
“Technology has the potential to help improve the scalability of business models and utilise assets more effectively,” explains the team at GlobalData. “However, the construction industry has consistently been a slow technology adopter.” The reasons for this hesitation, as cited by survey respondents in GlobalData’s 2021 report on industry insights, are primarily:
- Limited short-term financial gains.
- Lack of financing for new technologies.
- Lack of skilled labor to use new technology.
- Lack of awareness of new technologies.
While these are all certainly valid concerns regarding technology adoption, they shouldn’t stop you from using tools that will make your work day easier. The benefits of using digital tools, such as greater collaboration, more informed decision-making, and more on-time and on-budget projects, far outweigh the risks. At the end of the day, you are less stressed because technology is making your business simpler by addressing these common stressors.
Managing Project Costs and Budgets
Perhaps the biggest stressor on any construction project is managing the money. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 83 percent of private construction companies that started in 2011 failed by 2021. It’s a testament to the financial risk and volatility of the industry.
For many trade contractors, low bids, project cost overruns, and costly project delays are some of the key causes of financial stress. Construction project management software helps trade contractors address these problems to keep builds on budget.
When it comes to bidding, you certainly want to win projects but not at the expense of your company’s financial strength. The software analyzes historical project data so you can make accurate, competitive bids based on project projections. Change orders, material price changes, and unexpected delays also wreak financial havoc. Data insights provided by the software can help you and your teams monitor the budgets and make adjustments accordingly to prevent losses.
This is one of the many benefits Ground Breakers Construction has experienced with eSUB, particularly better bidding. “Over time we will be able to use our historical data to help us bid better, know our strengths, and know what we need to improve,” says the company’s chief operating officer Marty Siebe. “It also gives us a competitive advantage over any other subcontractor still using paper.”
Hiring and Allocating Labor Appropriately
Another common stressor for trade contractors is staffing. Hiring and retaining skilled workers is a challenge during the labor shortage crisis currently rocking the industry. That makes allocating the labor you do have for maximum efficiency difficult. The software can be used to minimize the impact of both of these problems.
The industry will need to hire more than 342,000 new workers in 2024 in addition to the normal hiring rate to meet industry demand, according to the Associated Builders and Contractors, a national construction industry trade association. Essentially, there are far more job openings than there are new workers, so companies must learn how to do more with fewer hands. That’s why labor allocation is so important.
Construction project management software can provide insights into where your resources are being underutilized so you can re-allocate those resources effectively to get work done. If you have workers sitting idle on a site, the data can tell you where to move them so they are being productive. It can also forecast where you will need more labor resources in the future so you can plan your project staffing accordingly.
Labor allocation and waste was a particular challenge for DTA Electric before using eSUB. “Before, on every job we’d send 10 guys [regardless],” says Van Huynh, DTA Electric project manager. “Now, we mobilize the team on the manpower needed to do specialized tasks on the schedule.”
Controlling and Organizing Documents
Project paperwork can get overwhelming very quickly, especially if everyone is using paper to manually make notes, submit dailies, and request change orders. Document control is almost impossible with old-school binders and even electronic spreadsheets. Everybody ends up working on individual and often outdated documents because they aren’t stored in a central location and accessible in real-time to collaborate.
The software changes that. Field teams can make real-time notes while on site that all project stakeholders can see. They can also submit their daily reports through the tool before they leave for the day. That information is stored digitally where everyone — foreman, general contractor, project managers, and business owners — can access it, anytime.
Document control is a problem eSUB helped solve for Warco Construction Inc. “With everything recorded in a centralized place, it is easily accessible, and the information is there if we need to reference back to it,” says Rick Tanner, vice president at Warco. “Before, the foreman would take a picture. But would it make it back to the project manager? Where would they save it? When we need the picture a few months or years from now, would we be able to find it?”
Now, they have the answer to all of those questions.
Adopting the Right Technology Tools
You know you need technology to keep up with the evolution of the industry. In order to remain competitive and not become one of the 83 percent of businesses that fail, it’s imperative you be able to streamline processes to eliminate waste and make sure your projects stay on-time and on-budget. Yet deciding on the technology you need can be extremely stressful, which is a big reason so many construction companies hesitate to adopt new tech tools.
But the cost of doing nothing is punishing. You can no longer afford to maintain the status quo if you want your business to succeed. Clients, general contractors, and employees have high expectations for project management and control. And, quite simply, it doesn’t make sense to ignore a tool that can help your business succeed.
Take Alloy Sheet Metals, for example. Founder Bryan Lopez says eSUB has been critical to his company’s growth because he’s been able to better track productivity and manage his projects. “I’m focusing on larger projects, and without eSUB it would just be a bunch of hours of work and time for me trying to figure it all out,” he says. “I don’t think I would be able to manage a lot of the projects that we have gotten.” With eSUB, he has doubled his project log from $1 million to $2 million dollars.
It’s a no-brainer that you need technology. The harder part is choosing the right tool for your business.
Choosing the Right Tech for Your Trade Contractor Business
What’s most overwhelming about technology adoption is choosing the right tool for your business. The process is very manageable if approached methodically.
Here are the basic steps for identifying the construction project management software you need:
- Define your specific needs and workflows.
- Set your expectations for what the tool should deliver to your business.
- Research and evaluate options based on how well the features fit your needs.
- Do a trial run or demo before commiting to a purchase.
- Make your selection and then train your team on the new software.
By taking it one step at a time, you can be sure you select a construction project management tool that will indeed deliver on the promises of making it easier to manage your projects.
To see how eSUB Cloud can meet your needs and bring you peace of mind, schedule a demo today.
Images used under license from Shutterstock.com.