When it comes to managing construction, crew scheduling is one of the critical responsibilities of a project manager. You will need to handle many job requests, schedule various crews at different sites, dispatch field workers from one place to another, assign tasks to each employee, change jobs at the last minute, and ensure their team members get to appointments on time. Suppose you need an efficient and effective crew management system. In that case, it can be easy to lose track of everything and cause delays. In that case, finishing a job on time is almost impossible and can cost you money and your reputation.
In an article by ResearchGate, entitled Impact of Crew Scheduling on Project Performance, many contractors are consistently looking for ways to manage resources, such as crews, materials, and equipment to ensure that the project is completed on schedule and within budget. Still, many general contractors and project managers stick to traditional ways of managing projects, often wasting time writing down plans and schedules with pen and paper. It would help if you got to know your workers before you assigned them to a task. From their skills, current workload, availability, and where they are, you must note every detail to devise plans and determine optimized schedules.
In this article, let us look at how you can streamline and optimize crew schedules across multiple projects. But first, let us look at what crew scheduling and dispatching are.
Defining Crew Scheduling and Dispatching
Crew scheduling and dispatching is sending workers to a specific job site and making the most of your crew. Project managers, even experienced ones, may get nervous about handling many vital tasks simultaneously, and it can be pretty challenging to track all the moving parts quickly. With an excellent system for managing multiple projects, it is easier to know what work to prioritize, how to help your team handle their workload, and if everything gets done on time.
This is the start of the trouble. A qualified project manager who knows how to handle projects may still find them tedious and complicated. Luckily, with today’s digital solutions, you can utilize construction dispatching and scheduling software to help you keep track of all essential details like dates, deadlines, money, the number of workers needed, and locations. Optimized scheduling and dispatching can help you send the right field worker to the right job at the right time.
Common Problems With Crew Scheduling and Dispatching
A construction project’s success is determined by how it is delivered. However, it can quickly go out of hand when you must meet milestones or revenue goals while handling multiple projects with different lengths and crew sizes. In this schedule, let us look at the struggles of managing multiple crews at once.
Keeping Track of Multiple Job Sites
Each project is unique, so you might find it hard to keep track of all the issues and challenges at different job sites. You have to manage your workers, ensure safety rules are followed, and keep your customers updated on all changes, all simultaneously on other sites. Not only that but when you have much to do, mistakes happen more often than you would like, making it more prone to delays.
Lack of Skilled Workers
When working on a job site with specialists, you must ensure they have the proper licenses to do the job. These workers might only be on the site sometimes, so being able to plan their hours on time will help keep things organized and speed up site construction.
Today’s work culture focuses on every employee’s physical and mental health. So sometimes, it is unavoidable for your crew to suddenly not show up if they feel sick. However, it can lead to possible delays, especially if you are still looking for someone to replace them.
Try to understand who works when, where, and how clearly. Construction scheduling software can help you quickly look at the rest of your crew and reassign or hire someone not expected to work that day, and this allows you to make fast and sound decisions to solve potential roadblocks.
Some workers may be just slower than others. By keeping track of your tasks and activities, you can see how much time a worker has spent on jobs and how long they have been working on a project or the work site. That way, you can also see which ones are overworked and which may need some assistance or support to finish the job on time.
Strategies To Optimize Crew Scheduling and Dispatching
When working with multiple projects, planning out your resources to ensure that every project will get the help they need to finish it on schedule and within budget is critical. This includes assigning your crews to the right task.
Plan Out Your Resources
Planning out your resources is the first step to optimizing your scheduling and dispatching system. Your crew is your most essential resource, so you will devise a plan for how and where to assign them. This also includes the necessary materials, tools, and equipment to complete the task. The team usually has to do many things during a project’s delivery/build and testing stages. So, look at all the jobs and determine when they will be the busiest. Try to spread out the busy times so you are not working on two or three projects simultaneously. Ensure you can handle the resources so you will not need the same person or equipment for two or more jobs.
Get Inputs From Other Team Members
When creating your schedule, get inputs from your crew members and other people in charge of different work streams. They can provide valuable insights on how you can assign tasks and ensure that all projects turn out as they should. This can be done quickly with software that lets you plan projects online.
Use a Construction Schedule Software
Using software that helps you have an efficient crew schedule system can help you maximize your resources. You can use the tools and data for scheduling work to determine where project resources are being overworked. Using graphical reports makes it easy to see who has too much work and can take on more. Try to have all project teams use the same management system so everyone in the company can see what is happening.
Handle Time-Offs and Unplanned Absences
One of the many things that catch many project managers off guard is cancellations, whether planned or not. If you are not in charge of the team’s direct reports, signing off on their leave forms is not your job, and you might have no idea who is on leave for the day. This can lead you to assign tasks to them, only to find out they will not be able to show up. If they are supposed to work on more than one project during that time, they could lose money on more than one project, not just one. Make sure to get along well with the line managers, and remember your team always to let you know when they are out of the office.
Knowing how and when to put jobs in order of importance in a project is critical to optimize how you schedule and dispatch your crew. The project manager needs to know which tasks will significantly affect the business and how to put them in order of importance. You can also put tasks together in different projects that are the same or related, which lets you work quickly and efficiently on many other jobs.
Always Review and Revisit Your Plans
Sticking with the original plan no matter what sometimes makes sense. Flexibility is one of the most essential qualities a good boss must have. Several unknown factors can sometimes change your outlook when you are in charge of multiple jobs. You can set up meeting to start a project and hold regular review meetings where you update the original plan. This will help you finish all your projects smoothly.
Know When To Hand Off Your Tasks
A good leader knows when to take charge and when he can trust her team. You have to trust the people on your team and give them jobs when you have too much on your plate.
Managing even a single project can be challenging. It takes an incredible amount of time and effort to complete even a single project on time and under budget. Each project consists of hundreds of smaller projects that need to be controlled. As a result, you will need to continue improving the effectiveness of resource planning, crew scheduling, and dispatching, as well as the use of its available resources and team members across all projects. Using construction employee scheduling software, like Pro Crew Schedule, can help streamline and optimize how you manage your crew. It offers powerful features that allow you to view critical data, such as your crew’s schedules and tasks, with just a few simple clicks.