Mar 20 2015

Skills shortage – Protect your project

Construction SkillsIn a market already plagued with low margins, the ongoing skills shortage in construction is pushing up wage costs increasing project risk for contractors and ultimately clients.  Glenigan produced a report in late 2014 that explores the issues in detail.

The skills shortage is also leading to challenges recruiting the right personnel in commercially sensitive roles such as Quantity Surveyors leading to errors and increased costs, which can be remedied with better processes supported by technology.

With several contractors already encountering major difficulties in 2015, there are some key points contractors need to address and in many of these areas technology can help bridge the skills gap and reduce risk for contractors and clients alike. The key points, and their solutions are discussed below.


Maintaining safety

With the influx of new and potentially less experienced workers onto construction sites there is a challenge to make sites safer and instil a ‘safety first’ culture into the workforce.  This includes improving processes and ensuring compliance with them as well as better record keeping and incident reporting.

Technology such as a collaboration platform enables project teams to create mandatory processes and workflows and easily disseminate them across the supply chain whilst offering reporting to ensure that these processes are followed.

A collaboration platform or Common Data Environment (CDE) also provides an indelible record of all project information, allowing both the creation of standards libraries to distribute health and safety related information.  The detailed record keeping provided by such a system is also a benefit in the unfortunate event of an incident occurring especially, as is often the case, an insurance claim is made years after the event.


Keeping ahead of the curve

When recruiting new employees or upskilling your existing workforce it is important to consider the technologies and methodologies that are going to give you a competitive advantage in the future.  For anyone with operations in the public sector BIM capabilities will be a key consideration.

As public and private clients are increasingly focusing on delivering better outcomes at a lower cost Improving efficiency is more and more important.  Greater collaboration and integration of the supply chain including offsite construction can help deliver this efficiency.

Again technology such as the CONJECT CDE can help contractor’s future proof their business.  Providing a controlled environment for the sharing of data and models in line with the requirements of BIM Level 2 and standards such as PAS1192.  With flexible user rights the CDE can also be easily rolled out across the supply chain, thereby improving integration.

CONJECT solutions also take a whole lifecycle approach to built assets, providing an environment for information to be shared between project stages and supporting early involvement of asset operators.  This is in line with a ‘soft landings’ approach and the direction that appears to be being considered for BIM Level 3.


Managing cost increases

A number of contractors who have encountered financial problems in early 2015 have been affected by a small number of problem jobs that were quoted during the recession at very low margins.  Despite the increases in contractor workload and the presence of relatively healthy order books margins are still low and rising prices carry the risk that a year or two on jobs quoted today could be suffering from the same problems as seen coming out of the recession.

In addition to working to increase efficiency and reduce costs as outlined above, cost forecasting is also important.  Contractors need to be able to model the impacts of wage rises on their bottom line and quote for jobs accordingly.

Commercial management software, such as the integrated solution available for the CONJECT CDE can support contractors in both predicting the impact of future cost increases and with reacting to any unexpected change that occurs on a project.


People, process and technology

In the low margin environment that exists in the UK today, and with the increasing client focus on costs and the outcome of the built asset, the cost of the right personnel is a major risk factor.  However strong processes, supported by innovative technologies help to automate tasks, reduce workloads and reduce risk.


To find out more about CONJECT CDE and how it can help support your projects, read the datasheet.


About the author

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason leads the UK and MEAP Marketing team, with far too many years in B2B marketing to mention. A CONJECT newbie, Michelle is eagerly climbing a steep learning curve.

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