A Day in the Life of a Subcontractor
People think of subcontractors and general contractors as synonymous. This is not the case; they have very different job descriptions and daily activities that distinguish them from one another. A general contractor has a contract with a client to complete a project in its entirety. They are held responsible for meeting deadlines and the quality of the building. The general contractor is now able to hire subcontractors to complete certain aspects of the project. The subcontractor is then responsible to the general contractor for their portion as laid out in their contract. The subcontractors may work alone or with other workers that must be employed and managed by them.
Welcome to a day in the life of a subcontractor.
When a subcontractor is approached with a job, he must decide whether or not to accept it. The subcontractor must estimate costs and consider the time and resource limitations before committing to a project. Technology is available to aid in Estimating to ensure accuracy. A survey conducted by Pepper Construction revealed that subcontractor’s primary use of technology is for estimation. So, why hasn’t technology been adopted for the entire delivery cycle for the project? There’s project management, document control, tracking, and reporting – all of this leads to labor and costs being quickly pushed into the accounting system used in the back office.
Once a subcontractor decides to take on a project, he or she must make a formal plan for the project from start to finish that must be submitted for approval. Once it is approved, this plan (or a version of it) could be available for all stakeholders to see using cloud-based document control technology, so that they could reference it at any time of a project. The subcontractor must also identify risk factors, figure costs of labor and equipment, and lay out expectations for a project.
In this phase, the subcontractor will meet with the construction team, and brief them about what to expect and what is expected. From here, tasks will be assigned, and logistics of the project are worked out among the team. If the subcontractor uses mobile scheduling, the schedule and descriptions of the job would be posted for all to see and any changes would be sent directly to their phones.
In this phase, the subcontractor oversees the construction of the workers and makes sure that everything is running smoothly. He is responsible for the safety of the employees and the quality of their work. Mobile checklist applications ensure that the employees don’t miss any steps in the safety inspections, and allows the subcontractor to add anything to the agenda that he deems fit.
As a subcontractor, you are responsible for managing your team, which includes payroll, equipment, safety, etc. Mobile applications allow the subcontractor to track workers hours and equipment being used with timecard applications and GPS location services. He must also manage worker’s daily reports as well as submit his own. This could all be done in the field in real-time with the utilization of mobile daily reporting capabilities. Instant reporting allows the subcontractors to manage their team by keeping track of activities, conditions, and costs.
The subcontractor must also be able to work with other subcontractors on a project to ensure things are being completed in the correct order and on schedule. If one subcontractor falls behind schedule, that may push you behind schedule in turn. This puts a responsibility on the subcontractor to finish his work on time, and ensure that the other subcontractors are doing the same. The key to working with other subcontractors is communication. Mobile technology allows them to communicate with each other about possible setbacks and solutions to work together to stay on schedule. The survey conducted by Pepper Construction revealed that communication was the second biggest reason for subcontractors to use mobile technology.
Once the project is completed, the subcontractor will meet with the rest of his team to discuss the events of the project. He will write up a final report of what happened during the project, and identify anything that went wrong. This final report could be submitted via the cloud to save time on behalf of all parties.
When you’re ready to purchase Subcontractor software
The subcontractor has very different needs compared to the General Contractor (GC), so why not use “productivity” software that is designed specifically for optimizing your type of subcontractor business. You need software that is not designed for computer professionals, but for a highly mobile workforce that needs to connect to the office.
Key issues to remember when considering (mobile and cloud system) software:
- It’s built specifically for subcontractor workflows. General Contractor collaboration systems are developed to collect and manage docs from multiple Subcontractors on the job and distribute to owners and architects. Subcontractors need the ability to track time and labor productivity, so your core system needs to do this!
- Unlike General Contractor’s or Owners, Subcontractors make or break their profits on labor and being able to track time and productivity!
- Best in class email integration: Since General Contractor’s do not log into a subcontractor’s system, it’s crucial for subcontractors to track all correspondence from any system easily. The information you use for any GC, stays with the GC and your trapped with printing and keeping pdf docs somewhere on your own network.
- Lastly, the world of mobile applications and cloud are here to stay. The mobile and cloud-based system must be modular to allow subcontractors the ability to pick the modules (e.g., Daily Reports, RFIs, Scheduling, Field Works, PO’s, Correspondence, etc), you need to get started.