By Mike Merrill
To be successful in the construction business, there are certain strengths a contractor must have. On-the-job experience, building knowledge, and organization are critical, as well as solid communication and management skills. But if there’s one essential thing that can’t be overlooked, it’s the ability to mitigate risk.
Mitigating risk requires contractors to understand where things can go wrong and eliminating problems before they start. These efforts help protect employees from jobsite injuries, ensure projects stay on schedule, and make sure budgets don’t end up in the red. In today’s competitive environment, contractors can’t rely on intuition or hunches to know if something is off––there’s too much at stake for that to cut it. Fortunately, contractors and construction companies can turn to modern tech solutions to support mitigating risk and, in turn, protecting their bottom line.
Read on for the three main pillars of risk management—scheduling, safety, and staffing—and to find out how technology helps construction leaders mitigate risk.
The overall progress of any given project can be tracked in real time through live data submitted by workers and shift supervisors using a data collection solution. This type of technology can be downloaded as an app on your employees’ phones. Every time they clock in for work, they can be prompted to select which task they will be working on. As they move to a new task, or clock out, they will be asked about their progress. That task data can then be compared against the job costs on the projected budget so companies get a bird’s eye view of where things truly stand.
Here are the key Schedule risk mitigators:
Live field data removes the guesswork from start and stop times of a shift as well as the work that is accomplished during the shift for each worker.
Time is marked with GPS data:
Supervisors can manage multiple sites at the same time with GPS and geofence tracking and management.
Biometric face recognition with time records:
For companies that only manage their projects by man hours, time theft and buddy punching can have a big impact on your schedule. Face recognition tied to their time records eliminates time theft and buddy punching by alerting you that their clock in or out photos don’t match their employee profile photos.
Safety is the most obvious form of risk on the jobsite. Any construction worker can tell you that you can feel the risk when you are up off the floor working, operating a piece of machinery, or carrying a heavy load. Although danger can never be entirely eliminated on the jobsite, the opportunity for injury can be significantly reduced. Most safety situations that could have been avoided come from a lack of information to supervisors in a timely and usable manner. Fortunately, data collection solutions enable safety information to be gathered on easy-to-use forms at clock in/out and while transitioning to new tasks.
Safety forms collected with live field data gives supervisors and management immediate insight into any safety issues or trends that are happening across all projects and tasks. Workers can share safety concerns with clarity by using photos with any necessary markups; these photos can be easily shared across the company. By collecting safety data from individual employees, over time, construction managers can help teams avoid unnecessary injuries and avoid any compliance fines.
Here are the critical safety risk mitigators:
Instantaneous reporting and prompts reduce unseen safety risks:
Instant communication between management and the boots on the ground allows construction companies to respond to any situation as quickly as possible, limiting the jobsite’s exposure to risk, problems, or errors.
Requiring safety forms at clock in or out increases safety reporting:
Live field data platforms with integrated workflows trigger relevant safety screening forms to pop up when employees clock in on their mobile apps.
Remote safety training with videos creates the most educated workforce:
Live field data solutions provide an agile platform to quickly deploy new toolbox talks, effectively training their employees on new safety procedures and other safety training information without requiring large coordinated meetings.
When it comes to staffing issues, the productivity insights live field data provides can be used in different ways to improve the bottom line. For example, data can show current and historical demands for labor from different tasks and projects.
Step one is integrating the ERP with the mobile workforce platform collecting live field data for time and completed work pulling the project cost structure from the ERP into the mobile workforce platform. This allows contractors to easily compare actual labor hours and quantities and know if they need to increase or decrease productivity to stay on schedule and within budget. Using live field data allows contractors to identify where they have underperforming crews and allows them to make adjustments to keep the productivity in alignment with the budget and schedule.
Accurate labor hours and productivity in real time mitigate staffing risks:
People in the field and the office know if they are ahead or behind on completed work and labor hours when they track productivity in real time. They can confidently move employees from one project to another project because they have accurate productivity captured from the field.
Real-time earned value calculations:
When you integrate your EPR or accounting system with a mobile workforce platform with live field data, you can keep your budget in alignment with the progress on a project. The percent complete will be accurate based on what’s happening in the field in real time and as a result, the earned value can be evaluated in real time.
Risk will always exist on the jobsite and will always put the bottom line in jeopardy. But technology is here to mitigate some of the most prominent risks that have plagued the construction industry. Ensure that you are collecting live field data—it gives construction leaders the ability to protect their crews and businesses from unforeseen, but now avoidable, risks.
About the Author:
Mike Merrill is co-founder and chief evangelist of WorkMax by AboutTime Technologies and host of The Mobile Workforce Podcast. Mike has been an entrepreneur and business owner in the construction and technology industry for nearly three decades. For more, visit workmax.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, December 2021
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