The outlook for construction is mostly positive this year as construction firms expect increasing demand for numerous types of projects in 2022, despite ongoing supply chain and labor challenges. This was one of the key findings of the 2022 Construction Hiring and Business Outlook, recently released by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage.
While most firms plan to add workers this year, 83% of contractors surveyed are having a hard time filling some or all positions. And most don’t expect things to get better anytime soon—75% think it will continue to be hard or become harder to fill positions this year.
The good news is that technology—particularly cloud-based technologies—can play an invaluable role in helping construction firms keep pace with growing demand while tackling current challenges facing the industry. There are a variety of cloud options that can help you prepare for a deeper dive into specific technologies and their benefits. Today we’ll take a closer look at how preconstruction and HCM technologies can help win work and attract workers.
Investing in Preconstruction Technologies
Preconstruction is the most critical phase in a construction project. Creating a solid project plan can dictate success not only for the entire project but can also have implications for a business’ future success. Preconstruction technologies can help you win more work at the right price.
In an industry with notoriously tight margins, contractors don’t have room for error when it comes to estimates. However, estimating has historically been one of the most time-consuming and error-prone aspects of the preconstruction process, and many construction firms still rely heavily on spreadsheets to create estimates. Using spreadsheets for estimates increases the chance of errors, which can erode profit margins before a project even begins.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. Investing in a solid estimating solution that seamlessly integrates with the other solutions you are using can have a big impact on the speed and accuracy of your estimates. Today’s technology allows estimators to do production estimating work concurrently with both 2D and 3D content. This streamlines the takeoff process and eliminates additional, error-prone work.
With the right technology tools in place, construction objects in a model can also be directly linked to assemblies in a customized estimating database. These assemblies contain the necessary specification variables used by estimators. Additionally, integration with accounting and project management solutions makes it possible to export helpful data like budgets, purchase orders, and subcontracts without duplicate data entry. Estimating software can help you produce more accurate bids in less time, which can help improve your company’s bid-hit ratio.
BIM is a technology that has been used more widely in recent years. BIM serves as a digital representation that communicates the physical and functional characteristics of a project. Its top benefits include better visualization, faster and more accurate takeoffs, and increased project collaboration.
A 3D building model provides an interactive, information-rich representation that makes it easy to see individual elements and how they relate to each other. It also contextualizes the complexity of a project and helps identify potential risks.
Every object in a model that contains dimensional information, like length and width, allows teams to build estimates faster and more accurately. BIM tools that are integrated with estimating software accelerate the development of quantities and variances whenever changes occur on a project.
The BIM process facilitates greater collaboration, enabling teams to complete work faster and provide early and accurate cost feedback to all project stakeholders.
While BIM was once used just for large, highly complex projects, today it’s being used in projects of all sizes as companies are really seeing the value of BIM as a sales tool. When bidding on a project, a contractor who submits a full 3D rendering of the finished project will often have an advantage over one who submits a 2D sketch. Plus, the contractor who produces the full 3D rendering will not only have an advantage when it comes to winning the job, but they will have the tools needed to better execute the project.
Utilizing Human Capital Management Solutions
While technology can help a construction business keep up with demand, many are still having a hard time finding workers to staff projects. The construction industry has been suffering from a qualified worker shortage since before the pandemic, and its effects have only been exacerbated by current challenges, including supply chain issues, material shortages, and project delays. This makes it critical for construction firms to find ways to attract new workers and retain their current workforce.
Fortunately, technology, particularly the use of human capital management (HCM) software and workforce management apps, can help you attract and retain workers while streamlining HR functions and reducing the time spent on administration. From managing remote employees to right-sizing the business, human capital and people management solutions can help you effectively manage your people resources and easily react and adapt to the changing needs of your business.
While building a strong workforce is not easy, a comprehensive HCM solution can certainly help ease the burden. It allows you to automate many key HR functions, beginning with the essential steps of recruitment and hiring. This encourages greater visibility and collaboration throughout the process, helping your teams find the best fits for your organization. And the time saved by automating processes allows you to take a more strategic approach and concentrate your efforts on important aspects, like the interview process. Ensuring your teams have the right people in place helps reduce employee turnover, maximizes your company’s return on employee investment, and results in more productive and satisfied employees.
HCM software can play an important role in the employee experience from the moment they are hired, guiding them through onboarding and benefits enrollment and providing them with a single self-service portal for instant access to everything they need. It can help them manage their own day-to-day HR tasks by providing access to all HR-related information, including time and attendance, pay stubs, expense reports, company policies, updates, time-off requests, and schedules.
A cloud based HCM system further encourages collaboration and makes it easier for your teams to share goals and priorities to unite efforts while they are working remotely. Workforce management apps like automated time capture can further enhance HCM solutions while helping to free up employee time and ease frustrations for both field and back-office teams.
Investing in preconstruction and HCM technologies can help you make the best decisions for your business and have a significant impact on creating both a more productive and more pleasant work environment. The kind of place that is not only successful, but that attracts (and retains) top talent.