Great project managers are often the unsung heroes of the construction industry. Thanks to their undoubtful skills and unwavering diligence, construction projects can be delivered on an established budget within the intended timeframe and cover all the scope’s works. People don’t know that it takes exceptional resource management skills to ensure that all the project team members are working on the right task, with the right set of equipment, and on the right schedule.
In today’s blog, we will tackle different resource management concepts, skills, and techniques to help your construction team mitigate potential risks and increase overall profit. Read on below to learn more.
What Is a Resource Management Plan?
In managing construction, project managers generally work around four major resources: time, task, staff, and equipment. If just one of these four factors is mismanaged, construction projects begin to run late on the projected timeline, lose money, and even worse —
lose clients. When you handle multiple construction projects, it becomes evident that establishing an effective construction management plan for your company takes more than jotting down notes on paper.
What Does Managing Construction Resources Mean?
A fundamental concept in project management for construction to remember is that it works hand in hand with resource management. Both project management and resource management are interdependent in the construction industry; however, they still address different aspects.
For example, a project management plan and layout show that your team will need to complete the 5th-floor slab for the high-rise condominium that you are building three weeks from now. This may also tell you that you will need ten appropriately skilled laborers for seven consecutive days. Still, the plan won’t tell you where to find your laborers or even if they are available if you are not using construction scheduling software to track their activities.
The main goal of a construction resource management plan is to identify, prepare, and reserve resources to meet the needed objectives and requirements. Its purpose is generally straightforward but takes exceptional skills to manage.
Basically, a resource management plan should:
- Identify resources (staff and equipment) to ensure their availability on a specific activity and schedule and resolving potential conflicts. For example, a backhoe and its operator cannot be on three different construction job sites at once.
- Optimize time, effort, and money instance, for instance, by having field workers work on a succession of field tasks to minimize downtime or long transport time between job sites. The resource planning process should be quick and efficient to address such issues when assigning staff to specific project activities or tasks.
- Apply past experience and proper staff management. Allocating the same staff to various seemingly unrelated tasks can be counter-productive as designating the same monotonous task to be repeatedly done. The project manager should take account of individual staff preferences where possible, or at least aim for a positive work balance when larger construction teams are involved.
- Incorporate the realities of an actual construction job site, such as any limitations and hindrances on access for vehicles or equipment or the predictable issues for delivering building materials to where it’s needed to speed up operations and decrease worker effort.
- Respond quickly to changes in project objectives and scope to reassign resources efficiently as required and maintain high productivity and profitability.
- Track your resources and utilize materials and labor in a timely fashion and quickly respond to potential conflicts that might arise.
- Deal with predictable and unpredictable conflict. In some instances, resource conflicts for competing construction projects with the same priority, such as a backhoe being deployed to two job sites, require firm leadership to step in and make the final decision.
How to Create Your Own Construction Resource Management Plan?
Here are the four proven steps for creating a resource plan that will surefire deliver excellent results:
- Begin with the latest version of your project plan, complete with project phases, milestones, and completion dates. It’s also good practice to review all the signed contracts. Without an agreed construction project plan, your resource management plan will surely miss the mark.
- Assess which of the four types of resources are necessary for completing a specific project. The project plan may have already identified resources but always remember to validate the written information. Calculate the different activities using your experience, expertise, and known industry resource standards and restrictions. In many cases, a project manager’s knowledge is a mix of know-how and given analytics.
- Identify project resources and verify their current availability for allocation, usage, and optimization to be used for specific activities and possibly across different projects.
- Secure necessary authorization and approval for designating the resources in advance of the project kick-off phase. Depending on your construction organizational structure, you may or may not be competing with other project managers and other ongoing projects.
What Are the Two Key Factors to a Successful Resource Management?
Effective resource management starts with good communication. Communication with all stakeholders helps to set all milestones, deadlines, and other essential aspects of the project. Without communication, you won’t know your staff schedules or the needs of other projects that need to be addressed.
These parts are necessary to resource management because assigning something or someone that can’t physically be there will cause hold-ups and delays. Furthermore, it doesn’t reflect well on the company or your work. With the information, you gather at this phase of resource management, and you’ll be able to build a better plan in the future.
Knowing the accurate number of staff you have on payroll and the type and amount of equipment you possess in your inventory is incredibly important. However, it’s more than a numbers game. You also have to know the status of your people and equipment. If someone has requested a day or week off, if a piece of equipment has scheduled repair or maintenance, these are necessary to know in creating a good resource management plan. When you know precisely the construction scheduling of your workers and equipment for all project locations, it’s easier to look for ways to accommodate them.
Taking inventory into consideration can also mean identifying the necessary tasks needed to complete a particular project. Once you determine the tasks and activities that will need to be done, you can use that information in the next stage- choosing the construction management approach. Good inventory management software can also help you manage and streamline your company’s inventory.
What Are the Different Approaches to Construction Management:
The level of detail and the accuracy needed for successful construction resource management make precise organization non-negotiable. Your resource plan must be crystal clear and detailed to all project stakeholders while at the same time maximizing efficiency and overall productivity. To manage a good resource plan, you may benefit by considering one of the following resource management approaches:
1. The resource planning template
This template provides you with an extensive checklist of all the activities, tasks, and resources needed for a specific construction project. It also gives other stakeholders a standard format (if you present the resource plan, for instance) to identify uniquely essential information to their roles. The project resource manager can easily update and share significant changes with other project stakeholders in digital format.
2. The resource planning matrix
This matrix or grid can effectively present resources by name, category, description, and purpose. Using resource planning matrix and color-coding schemes can create visual representations to identify potential risks, underutilized assets, and overlapping resource allocations.
3. Leveling and shifting resources
With limited resources for a project, subcontractors often encounter schedule conflicts and may need to:
- Maneuver project activities
- Make tasks sequential instead of synchronous (resource leveling)
- Allocating activities to other project staff (task shifting)
Excellent resource managers who genuinely understand their projects and team members will utilize these available techniques without impacting the overall budget, timeline, and scope of work for a specific construction project.
4. Establish a coding system for all resources
Proper coding systems replace lengthy text descriptions and simplify resource planning by making it much more concise and easier to organize, assess, and retrieve past and past construction project data.
5. Employ resource development training
It cannot be stated enough that project resources change over time. Investing in the right people and equipment not only minimizes risks but also creates a competitive edge for subcontractors. This means investing in existing staff and materials, sometimes is a more beneficial long-term investment and bringing in new ones; however, like technology, there are new tools that can accelerate work efficiency and productivity in construction like never before.
6. Cloud-based and Mobile Technology
Software designed for construction professionals takes project management and resource management to all-time high levels. As construction companies scale and take on larger and more complex projects, the manual groundwork of a resource management plan such as utilizing an over-glorified Excel spreadsheet becomes laborious and prone to human errors. Manage construction projects using cloud-based and mobile software offered by Pro Crew Schedule is designed to automate project workflows and resource management.
Having project managers use their intuition will not always open up opportunities to save time and effort. Still, the right project management software designed to help you build projects can automatically pick out possible roadblocks, inefficiencies, and resource issues for today and the future.