Supply chain problems and staffing shortages are two of the biggest obstacles currently facing specialty contractors. The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) says 90% of builders reported delays and materials shortages in 2021, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index revealed that 42% of contractors had to turn down proposed projects due to insufficient staffing.
The labor shortage means contractors must do everything possible to maximize productivity from their teams, but there’s more to it than simply asking everybody to work faster. Productivity needs to be effectively tracked so contractors can see shortfalls in real-time and make adjustments on the fly. Teams also need to be empowered to communicate the situation on the ground.
Productivity pain points: lack of visibility and standardization
Many specialty contractors lack confidence that their teams and resources are being effectively deployed. This is in part because the methods and systems they use are too manual and fragmented to be useful, since information is scattered throughout various systems and there is little to no standardization across projects.
This lack of visibility hampers a contractor’s ability to make accurate budgeting and projections.
The reason to do production tracking is to validate that where you think your job is going to land is actually going to happen. Looking at a budget by percent spent doesn’t show you production, it shows you spend. If you go really slow and get 25% installs, but your 50% spent, you’ve got a really big visibility and accuracy problem.
Tracking productivity goes hand in hand with controlling costs and outcomes. This allows contractors to spot potential bottlenecks early on and make the necessary adjustments accordingly. Thus, they can avoid costly or time-consuming corrections after the fact.
Another hurdle to management gaining better visibility into what’s happening with a project is a lack of standardization. When everyone has a different process, it can be difficult to make apples-to-apples comparisons across projects and teams.
You can’t get best practices out of different practices. If you’re not standardizing, you’re not gaining the benefit of the learning curve. You need to be able to identify where you’re not performing.
Here’s what specialty contractors need for maximizing productivity
Maximizing productivity across the field and office teams requires real-time data and insights. Contractors need a complete picture of their available labor pool, their skills, and where they’ll be needed next. That information must be readily accessible, highly organized, accurate, and up-to-date.
Processes must be standardized to minimize learning curves and ensure individual team members are able to jump between projects and hit the ground running. Standardization enables contractors to more easily share resources between projects.
Contractors can create a “culture of production tracking,” ensuring buy-in from team members by giving them the tools they need to do their part. Once they see how these tools seamlessly meld into their existing workflows and make their lives easier, few holdouts remain.
In light of the continued labor shortage plaguing construction, meeting deadlines, and delivering projects on budget requires a complete picture of your teams’ productivity. Failure to do so can quickly result in blown budgets, missed deadlines, and a labor pool stretched beyond its capacity.
Growing and scaling a business in a constricted labor market is challenging, but it’s not insurmountable with the right mechanisms in place. Productivity tracking requires centralizing data and standardizing processes so leadership can more accurately and successfully predict labor needs and build projections.
For more information about how construction workforce management is revolutionizing the industry, download the free ebook 5 Ways Construction Workforce Management is Revolutionizing the Industry.
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