Create a better project environment by engaging teams & stakeholders
by Parke Jacquay
April 10, 2019

Commercial construction has traditionally been challenged by seemingly intractable issues in regard to cost, schedule, quality and safety. If you’ve ever posited that having construction projects run into roadblocks, blow past deadlines, squander resources and come in over budget is just “the cost of doing business,” consider a new way to address these age-old problems.

Comprehensive digital integration, made possible by the increasing adoption of 3D technologies like building information modeling (BIM) and virtual design and construction (VDC), has led to ever-increasing opportunities for collaborative teams to approach architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) projects in novel, efficient ways.

Implementing a collaborative process, according to a 2018 Dodge Data & Analytics report, can result in benefits to cost, schedule, quality and safety, including increased productivity, reduced waste, and improved delivery performance.

By prioritizing in the early phases of the project and practicing ongoing engagement with those in your connected supply chain, collaborative integration ensures that vendors and suppliers associated with downstream projects all have a seat at the same table.

Acknowledge the Current Plight

Construction employment has been on a steady rise since 2010, with a 31-percent increase in available jobs, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the past 8 years, unemployment in the industry has plummeted by 80 percent.

Consequently, many employers are experiencing the effects of an increase in the competitive wage rate and an extended time-to-hire, both of which are driving up labor expenses and causing costly delays to project timelines.

Strategize for Recruitment

Implementing this integrated project-delivery approach drives significant improvements in metrics across the board. So why not take it one step further and integrate labor resource management into the process as well?

In this era of record low unemployment, recruiting employees could be the most difficult challenge that project owners face.

Incorporating employment strategies into the early stages of project workflow can help solve the issue long before the first brick is laid. Whether project owners plan to use internal staff, subcontract it to another construction company, or work with a recruitment firm, this approach has undeniable benefits.

Project owners may prefer to use internal employees only, depending on a production schedule that moves workers from project to project. However, that system relies on timelines that do not change, which doesn’t often happen in construction.

The scope of the original project could be expanded, running up against the finite number of available employees. Or, the company could bid several projects at once and win them all, causing the need to source additional workers quickly.

Having a trusted staffing partner involved from the start is helpful, whether or not you use staffing services, because any of these factors could crop up during the course of the work. And you want to be prepared to act without delays.

Project owners who don’t properly forecast procurement costs may find themselves paying top dollar to lure skilled trades workers, or even paying a significant per-diem cost to recruit nonlocal workers to meet deadlines.

Utilize Staffing Expertise

Without data and expertise guiding strategy on the front end, labor assumptions and cost projections made at the beginning of the construction planning process may no longer be accurate by the time the actual work is needed. And in a short labor market, this can lead vendors to underbid the true cost of the work.

Production timelines are fluid and always evolving, making it imperative to first budget and staff as accurately as possible so that you are prepared for challenges that might arise. By including the input of labor management experts in the initial planning stages, a more realistic production timeline can be created, and many issues can be resolved before expensive infrastructure begins.

Recruitment experts can determine the availability and potential cost of labor for the project by accessing critical, third-party data, such as:

  • Local market analyses
  • Per capita density reports
  • Local bill rates
  • Market-rate wage data 
  • Regional competitors’ pay scales
  • Evaluate Often 

As construction progresses, having recruitment experts involved in the daily and/or weekly planning meetings at every phase of development helps troubleshoot potential issues that would require both architecture and resource changes.

Think about it this way: Project managers often order materials well in advance of when they’re required. Why shouldn’t we take a similarly proactive approach to human capital?

As construction planning evolves from a linear to a more inclusive, collaborative process, the benefits offer a clear advantage in streamlining production, reducing rework, avoiding staffing snags and—ultimately—delivering more money for the bottom line.