Construction managers often face several challenges in the workplace, as well as outside of it. Whether it’s pulling permits or workplace injuries, there is almost always some form of challenge that they face. However, the following tools are what every construction manager should have to ensure that their day gets easier.
1) AIM Insights
Human Resources Information Systems are often one of the most useful tools by a manager for a few reasons, including tracking employee data, retaining demographics, and automation of tasks for HR staff. AIM Insights integrates seamlessly into this, allowing managers to set goals, determine completion, as well as monitor the status of training. AIM Insights is particularly beneficial in the construction space as it leverages a bottom-up approach to helping front-line employees set goals that are safety-focused. Early studies have shown that when employees set their own goals focused on safety, they are much more likely to partake in safety activities.
For example, on a mining site, employees frequently wouldn’t wear goggles because they would fog up, blurring their vision, which is dangerous when drilling. So many employees wouldn’t wear their goggles or only temporarily wear them to appease their boss or senior leadership. Once they started implementing AIM Insights, different employees started proposing safety goals and solutions, and eventually, they were able to find a pair of goggles that were similar to pool goggles where they were close to their eyeballs and they didn’t fog up while still providing safety for their eyes. When the employees participated in the solution versus being told what to do, they were much more likely to follow the safety protocols.
In an industry marked by injury and litigation, tracking the status of training can help prevent both of these. Along with this, managers can earn a people leader certification to help improve their skills. This certification would include executive coaching as well.
2) Estimation Software
Contractors will always be asked for one number upfront by a client- how much a project will cost them. This number is often devised by calculating the cost of all required materials, the cost of pulling permits, and the cost of labor. The company’s own profit margin may be taken into account as well. Sometimes, creating a quote requires contacting multiple vendors to determine costs. However, this software can automatically request multiple quotes from different vendors at once. Using software can save an estimator hours of time that could then be better served elsewhere. Estimation software also has a lower margin of error than an individual. In addition to this, this type of software can also find where to cut costs as well. Software such as this can evaluate subcontractor bids and compare them to each other, and then to the schedule of the clients. It can then automatically find the most efficient and inexpensive option. Estimation software can also determine procurement timeframes as well, which is much harder to do by hand.
3) Cloud Storage
There are a lot of moving parts in creating a project. The two most important individuals in a project are often the Owner and the Manager. These two often have several important decisions to make regarding purchasing materials, assigning staff, and other logistical details. Having this information easily accessible to multiple people at once for both asynchronous and synchronous work can make a massive difference for users. In addition to that, when determining budgets and expenditures, having multiple people working on a document at the same time can dramatically improve efficiency. Imagine using an online version of a database as opposed to Microsoft Access. Access databases are a great choice, but are limited to only one user being able to access them at a time. An online, cloud-stored database has no such weakness.
4) Construction Accounting Software (And an accountant)
The most common practice for accounting is to operate around a period of time. For example, most companies tend to release quarterly or yearly, or maybe even monthly statements. The problem with this for contractors though, is that most jobs have some form of unique input or requirement. They are also perpetually opening and closing projects during the year.
Consequently, contractors have their own methods of accounting, known as Construction Accounting. This is centered around each project, as opposed to a period of time. Construction Accounting software is better designed to assist with contractors’ specific timelines and schedules, and as such, is a much better fit for them. This will allow the average project manager to be able to track budgets, assets, and liabilities, while still receiving information pertinent to their industry. It is important to note that this is not a substitute for finding a CPA. However, it may assist a manager in checking their finances.
All state laws, and some federal laws, require contractors to have a certain amount of insurance. The following are just examples of what most areas require.
· General Liability Insurance- This covers bodily injury claims, medical payments, covers any property damage, as well as copyright infringement.
· Professional Liability Insurance- This covers any financial damages from the services you provide. For example, if a web developer makes a mistake on an e-commerce site, he could be sued for missed sales opportunities. With professional liability, this would be covered.
· Vehicle and Auto Insurance- This is insurance needed in order to drive or operate vehicles as a form of transportation. This would protect a contractor in the event of a car accident while driving to a site.
· Inland Marine Insurance – Funnily enough, this does not in fact have anything to do with the sea or ocean. Inland Marine Insurance refers to covering any product, materials, or equipment when transported over land, or warehoused by a third party. This is especially important for project managers who are transporting heavy equipment or materials. Auto Insurance does not cover damage caused to these. However, Inland Marine Insurance will in fact do so.
· Contractor License Bonds- These are purchased from state licensing boards and are often necessary in order to comply with building codes and are a condition for permits or licensure.
· Workers Compensation Insurance- This insurance is similar to General Liability Insurance but can cover gross damages on the worksite. It is far more specialized than general insurance, and typically has higher amounts of coverage.
6) A Network
This is more often the case within construction, rather than general contracting, but most project managers have a network of subcontractors that they will use for each project. This network includes civil engineers, carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians, and often quite a few other trades.
A powerful network enables managers to have a quality talent pool for any of their upcoming projects and eliminates the need to have to hire and file checks on every contractor they have, saving time down the line. Managers can often get preferred vendor rates from subcontractors in exchange for having them on retainer as well, cutting costs dramatically.
With all of this in hand, a good manager should be able to make the most out of their projects, and will easily be able to succeed at their job.