Over the past several decades, computer and information technology (IT) have transformed construction and the building trades. Where once pen and paper were the standard tools for everything from design through final inspections, there are now equivalent digital tools for every stage of the building process. Contractor software comprises an entire category in itself—there are applications for estimating, scheduling, ordering materials, project tracking, and more.
While IT has been a boon to the construction industry, allowing designers and contractors to realize efficiencies in design, project sequencing, and planning, many contractors have yet to make use of IT solutions for one of the most important elements of successful projects: efficient management of labor. As IT revolutionizes the industry, it’s important that workers aren’t left behind; effective management of labor and maximum productivity are essential to profitability.
Labor management is uniquely challenging for the construction industry. Unlike most work settings, where the same employees show up for work at the same location and do the same job each day, construction sites feature a changing cast of characters as work progresses from one stage to the next; often, different workers show up to work on the same task from one day to the next. Keeping up with which workers are onsite on any given day—and whether they have the certifications and training they need—can be an administrative headache. On big jobs, managing the workforce documentation can require a full-time employee just to keep track.
In this article, we’ll examine the ways contractor software for labor management can help contractors save time and money on every project—as well as reduce paperwork and improve safety on the job site. We’ll also look at specific benefits of the GoContractor platform.
General Contractor Software: Not Just For Big Companies
The construction industry, particularly on the contractor side, has generally lagged behind other sectors in adoption of IT tools. There are a number of reasons for this, but perhaps the main one is that many contractors are not IT-oriented—most have been in the business for a number of years and have developed processes they know will work.
Some of the hesitancy to try new tech tools may stem from misperceptions about the cost and complexity of implementing them. General contractors in small- to medium-sized construction companies may believe that computerizing work processes is only affordable for large companies, or that only large companies can benefit from IT tools.
In the beginning, when IT was first making inroads into construction contracting, this was true. Early systems required expensive implementation and dedicated IT staff. But now the technology has moved light years beyond those early systems. Cloud-based systems like GoContractor do the heavy lifting that once required a dedicated system and staff. An online platform can host and manage the data, and integrate it with HRIS (human resource information systems) or other enterprise resource platforms. Not only is the data more secure in these new cloud-based systems—it can also be accessed from any location, not just at the office as was previously necessary.
The net result:
Current workforce management software for contractors is beneficial to contracting companies of all sizes. Contractors in the one to two million dollar annual revenue range can leverage the technology to become more nimble than larger competitors. Mid-level to large contracting companies can realize significant savings on onboarding.
Using Contractor Software To Simplify Onboarding
Before workers can even begin work, they must be pre-qualified, attend an orientation session, and in some cases, be trained. Each of these tasks can take an hour or more. Considering that hundreds of workers can be involved in the various stages of construction on even a medium-sized project, onboarding can add up to thousands of man-hours—in addition to consuming a lot of general contractors’ and project managers’ time.
Digital management of the workforce and onboarding tasks can reduce the associated costs by over 90%.
General contractor software can reduce man-hours lost to onboarding, and make management of onboarding easier. Digital management of the workforce and onboarding tasks can reduce the associated costs by over 90%. And the benefits aren’t limited to general contractors—contractors for the various trades can reap similar benefits from digital workforce management.
Labor Management Software: How It Works
Digital management of the construction workforce is not a drastic change from how contractors typically work; rather, it is a drastic improvement in how workers are managed. Using the GoContractor platform, instead of spending several hours with each worker on the front end of the project to verify that they are prepared to begin work and maintaining paper records for each worker, these tasks are handled via the online platform:
A major benefit of digital labor management is that project managers can access each worker’s information from the work site—or anywhere else—because the data is stored in the cloud. The data is saved and readily available if needed for a future audit or claim, eliminating the need for paper records.
The data stored in the system is useful for a number of different purposes—for example, the system can flag a worker whose training records are about to expire. This helps ensure all worker documents are up to date. The system is updated in real time, and if anyone becomes unqualified to work due to training or safety pass expiration, the system can catch it and deny access to the job site until the issue is remedied and updated qualifications are uploaded.
The GoContractor platform can also integrate with other systems for project management or on the job site. It can integrate directly with access control applications for projects requiring control of access to the site. Other data, such as workers’ medical backgrounds, can also be integrated with the data on the platform. When contractors and project managers have more data about their workers, they can get better insights about how to run projects more efficiently.
Using Contractor Software For Training
Conducting safety and other training sessions is a particularly time-consuming part of the onboarding process. Handling training through an online platform saves man-hours, eliminating the need to schedule one or more training sessions for workers cycling through the job site as the project progresses. Online training also tracks completion, so contractors and project managers can easily see whether all workers have completed required training.
Using GoContractor, safety training will typically be better, because the level of training across the workforce can be verified. This can yield additional benefits:
- Fewer job site accidents impact positively on insurance premiums. (For American contractors, the software’s training feature can help reduce worker’s compensation claims, which drive up rates.)
- Avoidance of paperwork and shutdowns associated with accidents.
- Avoidance of inspection fines for safety or other issues documented by site inspectors.
The platform can accommodate all types of training; contractors can upload customized training specific to each project for workers to complete. Time savings can amount to three or four hours per worker, and much more for contractors and project managers. This has a big impact on productivity, particularly when there’s high churn in workers, with subcontractors sending different workers to the job site each week. On a large site with a lot of weekly turnover in the workforce, this becomes a big—and costly—issue.
Benefits Of Associating Data With Individual Workers
One of the things that sets GoContractor apart from other contractor software for labor management is our focus on the individual worker, regardless of the company they work for.
Associating the data with individual workers means that, irrespective of their construction company or current projects, their data is accessible. As workers move from job to job, their ID and qualification/training data moves along with them. This system works for all types of projects, whether it’s a project involving a single general contractor, a group of general contractors, or a public/private partnership. Drawing from this database of workers, the system can generate a complete list of all workers qualified to be onsite for any given project, forming a project database with relevant information about each worker contributing to the project.
Ultimately, contractor software, apps, and platforms for labor management are about making it easier to manage a constantly changing workforce, streamlining the workflow, and making the whole management process more efficient.
For contractors who haven’t been using IT in this context, it’s not about making a sudden shift; adoption of the technology can be done in steps. Think of it not in terms of drastically changing how you do things, because all the steps necessary to qualify and onboard workers are still being covered. Think of it instead as drastically improving how you do things—using a tool that will save you both time and money.
Wondering if there’s a better way to handle labor management on your construction projects?
At GoContractor, our goal is to streamline labor management for contractors, saving time and money in the onboarding process. Get in touch and let us show you how we can improve the efficiency of your labor management process and make your next project more profitable.