Guest Contributor: Tyler Riddell, eSUB
In today’s competitive environment, it takes a great deal of project management finesse and scheduling magic to deliver projects on time and within budget. The main challenge lies in the allocation of a company’s resources, which are finite and constrained by time and cost. Developing an optimal resource management plan positions your organization for success. Being able to schedule resources effectively to deliver on current projects and accurately forecast resource allocation are the keys to ensure client satisfaction and strategic growth.
Resources in Construction Projects
The resources utilized in construction projects are very diverse. Only certain individuals possess required skills and certification needed to complete certain tasks. And materials must arrive at a specific time in order to avoid stalled labor. Project managers must schedule resources effectively and ensure their utilization at the right time across the various projects for a company.
The biggest determining factor in meeting project milestones is also the largest cost to a construction company — labor. The current shortage of skilled labor has made the resource even more challenging for construction companies. Different skill sets are utilized in different phases of the project with the most experienced workers in higher demand. It is important to also to manage the workload balance of employees to prevent fatigue and overexertion.
Designers specify the materials installed for projects, and suppliers dictate material availability and costs. Project managers ensure the materials ordered are of the specified quality, the appropriate amount to reduce waste, and delivered to the jobsite at the appropriate time. Ordering the wrong material or a late deliver results in additional costs and schedule delay.
There are many types of equipment used on projects, from individual employee power tools to large machinery like cranes or vehicles. Construction equipment is a large capital investment. Depending on their utilization, companies make the determination if they want to purchase or rent equipment. Unused rental equipment poses a large waste of money to a company.
While time is not a tangible resource, it is the most limiting factor in a project. Project managers cannot create or hire time, but they can ask for an extension of time from that owner. However, that extension will come at a high cost. Many contracts stipulate liquidated damages that dictate financial penalties in the event of delays. In order to not pay liquidated damages, companies then must schedule overtime labor in order to meet deadlines.
Effective Resource Scheduling in Construction
Costs grow, productivity falls, and schedules shift when a project manager fails to manage resources effectively. Resource management software ensures that nothing slips through the cracks for the most optimal utilization of resources for the duration of a project and across all company projects. Automated resource scheduling software like eSUB Resource Management provides the following benefits:
1. No more spreadsheets and headaches — Managing resources in spreadsheets is hard to manage across many individuals and projects. How can you ensure that you are working off the most current document? Resource management software provides a centralized location to view and manage all resources.
2. Multi-project scheduling and resource allocation — Users can view all of the labor and equipment in one place and allocate resources based on employee skill level and equipment availability. Having a central location to manage schedules makes it easy to catch and resolve any scheduling conflicts. As schedules and priorities shift, users can reallocate resources to different projects.
3. Real-time awareness and tracking — Any changes made to the schedule update in real time, and users can email updated schedules directly to employees. If equipment becomes missing, needs to be returned, or moved to another job site, users can track the equipment’s location according to the schedule.
4. Manage incoming project demand — When bidding on new projects, management can utilize resource management software to conduct “what if” scenarios against current projects. This will help them determine resource availability and any impacts to the resource pool. Does the number of projects justify the purchase of new equipment? Will we need to hire additional employees — field workers, foreman or project managers — in order to meet current project delivery dates and the new incoming projects?
5. Costs and margin tracking — Resource management software allows the association of costs with resources to provide automatic calculations. When users assign resources to projects, the software calculates costs according to resource scheduling and capacity (e.g., overtime). Management is able to review how schedule changes and resource overutilization or underutilization affect costs and profit margins.
Construction projects require the careful coordination of material, labor and equipment against time. As most organizations experience time and resource constraints, resource management software helps the systematic scheduling of resources. When companies automate their resource scheduling, companies are able to optimize their resources more effectively across all projects.