There are many reasons why companies need to have an efficient and effective construction crew management system in place. Your workers are your most critical resources. While it is important to keep labor costs low, you should not compromise your workers’ salaries. Time management is also vital in construction because any delay can hurt the whole project and may come with a significant time or cost impact. This is especially true when one group has to wait for another company to finish a specific type of work before moving on to the next step. Projects that are not yet completed on time can make it hard for the company to get bids on other projects, especially if they have a reputation for not being reliable and on time.
Time management and crew management often go hand-in-hand: it focuses on giving workers realistic goals, realistic time frames, and the tools and support they need to do their jobs. In this article, let us dive into how you can adequately manage and organize your crew’s work schedules.
How Do You Manage Your Manpower in Construction?
In construction, the workforce is the most important thing for success. As stated earlier, they are your most critical resources – without them, your project’s progress will be significantly affected. An effective crew management system includes ensuring schedules work well, keeping track of job costs, and improving communication.
In construction, a job may need a lot of people with different skills. Many teams must work together to finish hundreds of tasks, requiring a complex task system and a complicated schedule to ensure that teams can work together on multiple projects. This is where efficient crew schedule planning comes in. The better you can estimate and plan your work in the future, the more information you have about where your workers are and how they are doing.
How Do You Manage a Construction Schedule?
Often, details or instructions will get missed if you still verbally tell your construction workers where to go. As a project manager, you might find yourself splitting your time between projects or between the office and the field. You cannot be everywhere at once because you’re only one person. As a result, you need to improve the scheduling of your construction crews by consolidating, making predictions, and sending them out at the right time.
Instead of trying to keep track of your schedule through text messages or phone calls, use construction Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to let you manage your company’s daily activities with a few simple clicks.
Forecast how many workers you will need for each current project based on how many you had to hire for past jobs. You can also utilize an online scheduling system to see how workers move from one project to the next during the day.
Why is Time Management Important in Construction?
One of the essential responsibilities of a project manager is to develop and use good time management strategies. They help construction companies finish projects on time and within budget without compromising quality. It is more than just a tool in construction management – it is a key to the success and profitability of a project. Practical strategies for managing the time allotted to construction activities include creating a proactive working environment and giving team members goals, time frames, and resources they can reach. This will significantly lower the overall cost of the construction project and ensure that it meets the project baselines, especially the schedule and budget targets.
Common Challenges You May Encounter When Organizing Your Crew’s Schedules
Even if a construction job seems simple, it usually takes a lot of paperwork and scheduling to get it done. Before the job starts, much planning is done – contractors must be screened, materials must be bought, and blueprints should be ready. This is why construction crews and the people who hire them must be good at managing time and making plans. But sometimes, even with good management, tracking each crew’s tasks at a time can be tricky. This section lists five common challenges you may encounter when scheduling your crew’s tasks and activities.
Allocating Work and Tasks
Assigning the correct number of people to work on a project simultaneously can be challenging for project managers, especially if they are also working on other things simultaneously. Suppose there is a shortage of people working on a project at any given stage. In that case, it may take longer to finish, affecting all the succeeding activities and delaying the project’s completion.
With the current labor shortage that the construction industry is experiencing, finding qualified people for even the most essential jobs is harder. As a result, you must also create a safe and healthy working environment for them to be happy and satisfied in the workplace.
Need for Specific Skills and Qualifications
Construction crews need team members with specific skills or qualifications for some jobs. For example, electricians, plumbers, or steelworkers who can provide experience and expertise in their respective scopes of work. If these skilled workers are not there, either because there are not enough workers or because their schedules do not work, it can cause more delays, cost more money, and cause problems between crews, clients, and project managers.
Monitoring Your Crew Members
Project managers often find it hard to monitor everyone on the crew simultaneously. This can be because the job site is big or because the project manager has to manage different teams on different jobs or do other things. When workers need more supervision, productivity can go down, and mistakes can happen that could have been avoided. But too much control and micromanagement can also hurt productivity and make people unhappy at work. Using construction schedule management software is an easy way to solve this problem.
Unexpected Leaves or Absences
Working with larger crews makes it normal for people to miss work without warning. Absences can be caused by sickness, injury, or personal or family emergencies. When workers call in sick, project managers should expect fewer people working on the project. This could cause more delays and cost more money to replace the ill worker or wait until work can resume. It may be tempting to hire additional people than you need to cover for unexpected absences, but this can lead to a budget deficit or a worksite that is too crowded, making it an unsafe work environment.
Balancing Scheduling Conflicts
Getting a group with different personal schedules to work together can take time and effort. No matter how important it is to get work done, project managers must be aware of and considerate of the personal lives of their crews. Try to avoid overtime and promote work-life balance with your employees.
Seven Simple Time and Crew Management Strategies
Luckily, there are many ways for project managers to deal with problems and improve their ability to handle any other issues that might arise on a job site. This section lists seven strategies to help a crew work better together and trust each other more.
Review Daily Schedules
Project managers must check their project schedules daily and compare them to their baseline. With this, you can easily see if they are ahead or behind schedule and immediately flag any problem or issue. A comprehensive construction schedule should indicate what tasks are supposed to happen, how long the job will take, and who is in charge. Thus, it is also essential that every team member have access to the schedule and understand that any change to a project task will cause a chain reaction that affects other parts of the plan. No matter how long their building projects take, they should look at, track, and manage the project schedules daily.
Monitor Tasks and Activities
By keeping track of the work done and keeping an eye on the team, project managers can help prevent mistakes and boost productivity. When productivity trackers and on-site management are used, general contractors can get a complete picture of their crews’ productivity and a better idea of fixing any problems. But keeping an eye on things can quickly turn into micromanagement. A project manager should know the difference between the two to maintain a team from being unproductive and having a bad attitude.
Take an Integrated and Proactive Approach
After a daily review of how construction is going, a construction contractor should act quickly on any work that is likely to be delayed. After coming up with a plan to fix the problem, the contractor should give the tasks needed to carry out the project to the team members who can do them. It is also the contractor’s job to ensure enough resources for the strategy to be carried out smoothly.
Suppose there is a chance to improve the project schedule. In that case, the project manager should be able to review and adjust any changes that can shorten the project’s timeframe or modify a specific task because of the early start and finish of a particular job. In the same way, the construction contractor should know if any extra resources are needed to make the changes. This practice will help the construction contractor set up a proactive work environment to catch any problems that could affect the project baseline.
Provide Quality Leadership
Quality leadership can help general contractors be more productive and efficient. This could mean getting better at being a leader or putting trusted people in charge of crews. As such, you need to know when to delegate tasks, which can help you avoid micromanaging. It is hard for general contractors to track their time and staff, and keeping schedules on track and employees happy can be easier if you know how to handle scheduling problems to get the most out of them.
Schedule Productive Meetings
In some cases, meetings are needed so that tasks can be assigned and team members can talk to each other, but they should only be held for an apparent reason. Construction contractors must use their time well and hold meetings with clear goals. Also, after every session, the construction contractor should send notes and follow up on the tasks. All of these papers will be kept in the project file.
Utilize Innovative Project Management Solutions
Integrated project management solutions can make scheduling and overseeing work crews easier. An integrated solution is a process that ties together two or more parts of a business, eliminating all the tedious tasks and optimizing the process. Integrated solutions also make it easier for everyone on the crew to see schedules and data, encouraging them to take responsibility and accountability for their tasks.
Take Advantage of Construction Technology
Luckily, construction contractors can harness technology, such as software and apps. With software, they can invite everyone working on a project to the apps where tasks are to be assigned, with clear goals and due dates. It can be an essential communication tool for managing any construction project, which can help the time management process work better.