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Trade Contractors: How to Create Efficiencies and Scale Your Business

Out with the old and in with the new. That’s the approach trade contractors need to take when looking for ways to grow their business. 

The old is the outdated construction project management methods of binders and spreadsheets. If you are still using those, you are setting your business up for stagnation at best, failure at worst. That’s because “outdated construction management technology has led to productivity and efficiency deficits,” explains PMA Consultants. Those inefficiencies make it difficult for your teams to finish projects on time and on budget. 

The new is construction project management software that brings efficiencies to jobs through process automation and data centralization. With the right technology, jobs are more likely to finish on time and on budget with less waste.

Simply put, paper-and-pencil methods just don’t cut it anymore. You need construction project management software, like eSUB, to grow your business. 

The Problems With Paper-and-Pencil Construction Project Management

If you aren’t seeing the business growth you were hoping for when you started your trade contracting company, it’s time to evaluate how you manage project documents and data. Outdated project management methods and their resultant inefficiencies could be the culprit holding your business back from reaching its full potential. 

“Construction projects are inherently complex,” writes AEI Consultants. If your systems for managing those projects are also complex — i.e. controlling documents and data with binders and spreadsheets — you stand little chance of maximizing time and productivity. Here’s why.

It’s Difficult to Effectively Manage Multiple Construction Jobs 

Construction project managers and teams cannot be in two places at one time. So, they rely on each other to relay accurate, up-to-date project information so smart decisions can be made and projects can stay on time. This is nearly impossible to do when using binders and spreadsheets for documenting project progress.

When data is recorded and stored through traditional methods, it becomes siloed. 

The only way to share it is through email, paper transfers, or phone calls, all of which are extremely time-consuming. Instead of using that time to accomplish project-specific tasks, stakeholders are scrambling to find and share project information which makes it challenging to manage multiple projects simultaneously. 

There’s simply no time to take on more work. 

There’s an Elevated Risk of Project Delays

While project delays are expected in construction, manual project management methods inevitably lead to longer and more frequent project delays. With binders and spreadsheets, the strain on workers’ time goes up, thus, the ability for teams to finish projects on time goes down. 

When data is decentralized, access to accurate data is restricted. “Data transparency becomes an issue because each team member cannot view the same (or complete) data set,” writes Tyler Riddell at MSUITE. 

Consequently, data decentralization is the driving force behind all of these key causes of project delays: 

  • The information in field notes and daily reports isn’t shared in a timely manner so decision-makers end up working with bad data. 
  • Without access to historical data, determining how a change may affect a project becomes impossible, resulting in longer assessment and approval times for change orders. 
  • Skills gaps go unfilled and lost time stays lost as project tasks go uncompleted. 
  • Materials resource planning suffers and workers have to wait for materials. 
  • Rework becomes the norm when project information isn’t clearly and accurately communicated in real time. 

Once projects fall behind deadlines, your crews have to spend all of their extra time playing catch up, with no room to bring on new work.

Trade contractor in hard hat at desk, on phone and laptop; create efficiencies concept
It’s a Challenge to Build Accurate Project Estimates and Bids

To grow your business you have to win new projects. In order to win new projects you have to submit accurate, competitive bids.

“If you had to make a list of some of the most difficult parts of the construction process, bidding would undoubtedly be right at the top,” writes the team at Baldwin CPAs. It’s nearly impossible to do without access to accurate current project data and relevant historical data. 

If your data is siloed, it’s extremely challenging to pull together that information. This is a common problem for trade contractors still using old-school document and data management processes. 

When data is stored in binders and spreadsheets, there’s no simple way for you to gather it together and analyze it to use in building project estimates. This means you’re in the dark about your current and past capabilities and job costs which are needed to inform assumptions and predictions for future projects. 

Because you don’t have access to complete and accurate project data, your bids won’t be competitive. You’ll either price yourself out of work or lose profits because your bids are too low. Either way, your business can’t grow.

Maximizing Worker Productivity Becomes Nearly Impossible

Labor is one of the biggest assets on construction jobs. If you can maximize the productivity of your workers they are more likely to finish projects on time so your company can grow. 

“When labor productivity increases, you stay ahead of your competitors in winning construction projects,” explains Rami Tawasha, senior project manager at Constructive Solutions, Inc.

In order to do that, you need to be able to allocate your labor effectively. 

That requires trade contractors to track labor data such as lost time, wasted time, skills gaps, and project-specific work. But when you’re stuck in the past with traditional project management methods, it’s hard to collect reliable labor data. With paper-and-pencil, you rely on your teams to manually submit their daily reports and time sheets at the end of each day, which doesn’t always happen. 

Administrative tasks are a drain on workers’ time and many will put off doing project paperwork as long as possible. Without that information, it’s harder to make labor allocation decisions which means you are wasting your most valuable asset. 

When you can’t maximize project-specific work, project delays are bound to happen which prevent you from taking on more jobs.

Woman working on laptop with hard hat, phone and camera on the table; create efficiencies concept

Technology Helps Trade Contractors Grow Their Business Through Data Centralization

Construction project management software helps trade contractors avoid these problems so you can bring in new business and grow your company. The technology essentially creates a single source of truth that eliminates the chaos caused when documents are managed by hand and data is siloed. 

“By consolidating your data and eliminating these silos, you can enable better, data-driven decisions,” writes the U.S. CAD team. As a result, you can finish more projects on time (or maybe even ahead of schedule) and take on work. 

Software Enables Trade Contractors to Manage Multiple Projects

With construction project management software, it doesn’t matter where your project managers or teams are physically located. No matter where anyone is, they can share and access accurate project data. 

The technology streamlines documentation processes and centralizes data so that everyone can input project information quickly and easily. Everyone involved in a project also has instant access to reliable project data without having to chase it down from other project stakeholders.

“Real-time reporting from the field empowers project managers and stakeholders to synchronize effectively,” writes Ben Sparhawk, content writer and marketing account manager at STEVENS Engineers & Constructors, Inc. 

These efficiencies allow teams to spend more time on project-related work and project managers to manage multiple projects simultaneously. This gives them more bandwidth to take on more jobs so your company can scale.

Tech Mitigates the Risk of Project Delays

Data centralization with construction project management software is key to reducing the risk of project delays. When project data is stored in one central location, all project stakeholders have access to the most up-to-date information which helps mitigate the frequency and severity of project delays.

Communication improves, change order processes and materials planning are optimized, productivity is maximized, and rework is minimized when everyone is using accurate, reliable data. When project information is transparent and reliable, teams can work more efficiently. It then becomes possible to grow the business by bringing in new clients.

Data Centralization Facilitates the Creation of Better Project Bids

“Construction estimating is one of the most challenging, yet important jobs in our industry,” writes Kaiya Barrett at ConstructConnect. The only way to do construction estimates well is to use past and present project data to inform project bids. 

Construction project management software makes that easier to do by centralizing project data. It collects and stores all project information in one central location so you can easily access accurate data with which to build better estimates so you can bid more strategically and win more projects. 

Software Helps Maximize Worker Productivity

Optimizing labor is a must for avoiding project delays. “When contractors manage multiple overlapping projects, it becomes even more crucial to optimize project schedules and make laborers available at the optimal time for specific project phases,” writes the Cat Rental Store team.

Construction project management software helps trade contractors maximize worker productivity by streamlining and automating some administrative tasks so that workers can get them done faster. That frees them up to spend more time on project-specific work. As a result, projects are more likely to finish on time. This enables companies, like Alloy Sheet Metal, to bring in more work and reach its maximum growth potential. 

“Our first year with eSUB, we probably had $900,000 to a million in projects,” says Alloys Sheet Metal owner Bryan Lopez. “And right now, we’re going to end up with about $1.9 – $2 million. By next year, we’re probably going to double that as well.”

The software enables the company to better track their projects. As a result, they have saved time allowing the company to take on more — and bigger — 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,” says Lopez.

Schedule a demo of eSUB Cloud today to learn more about how this software helps find efficiencies so you can grow your business.

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