4 Effective Ways of Managing and Motivating Your Construction Workers

It is generally agreed that motivation is the key factor for generating higher production levels. A well-motivated workforce greatly influences the operational efficiency, especially in production-intensive industries like manufacturing and construction. Since the construction industry is highly labor dependent, it is essential to not only keep your team well-managed but to also maintain high levels of employee motivation across the board.

Listed below are 4 of the most effective ways a construction company can motivate and manage its workers. Continue reading “4 Effective Ways of Managing and Motivating Your Construction Workers”

How Do You Win More Bids?

I love the adage “If  you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” by Peter Drucker. It’s an important message about defining what success means for your company. What is the difference between a winning and a losing bid? I wish the answer were as simple as just “pricing”. The truth is more complicated. Let’s discuss some of the areas to look at and measure. 


Do you track the types of bids you win and lose? More importantly, how do you categorize your business: Service, new construction, remodel, commercial, or residential?  And do you bid outside your area of expertise, and if you do-do you know your win loss percentages? Tracking where you win and lose customer bids is important to understand customer losses. Do you win more public projects but lose more private ones? The expertise of your estimator may have to do with where you find success and more importantly where you are losing. Tracking the types of bids your company responds to and where you are succeeding is a good indicator your company understands that part of the market. And if you are a subcontractor it is a telling way to understand what your generals perceive your expertise to be.

Let’s look at a possible scenario of where to increase your win/loss bid ration. If you are a remodeler and you are winning commercial TI bids but losing on residential kitchen and bathroom remodels, do you know why? Start by tracking the types (categories) of bids you win and lose. This will give you areas to do a deep dive to find out why you are losing some types of bids. Maybe your estimators have a great understanding of commercial projects but don’t have detailed understanding of residential projects and over bid out of an abundance of caution. You don’t know until you start measuring and tracking your bids.

Win/Loss Rate, Speed Is Of The Essence 

Many contractors have around a 10% win rate, meaning that of all the bids they respond and submit a bid/quote they win roughly 10% of the work on those bids. In one way the more bids a construction company responds to the more work they will likely get. For every 100 bids/estimates they submit, they will win 10. That’s a lot of estimating and pricing work. The most common digital tool companies use is Excel; a wildly flexible business digital tool used by nearly everyone. You can reduce the time it takes to create a customer bid in Excel by using templates like everyone else , however it’s easy to make formula mistakes that could end up costing you a bid or under estimating the work required. And if first impressions through your estimator count then it’s much harder to differentiate your company using everyone else’s template. But speed is important, the faster you can create an estimate the more bids you can respond to. Focus is important as well, if you’re winning bids in some areas and losing them in others, you may want to look at focusing on the areas you are winning in or increase your understanding in the areas you’re losing at. 


What’s more important, accuracy or speed? If we are talking about service work, speed may be more important than accuracy because of how small the jobs are and the flexibility of defining hourly work in a customer estimate. Even then, accuracy is king for setting customer expectations and accurate scheduling. More importantly accuracy in your bidding process is the only way to make more money both in the bid and in the project work. The real need in today’s crazy pandemic environment is improving accuracy, something that only comes with experience. 

People Factor

It’s harsh but true, some people play favorites and don’t like you. I have heard this one before: “Whenever we give Joe a bid we always lose, it seems like he uses our bid to shop around to his favorites”. If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. It makes sense to track your wins and losses with your customers. If you keep giving ‘Joe’ bids you will most likely lose, why waste the time. If you can focus your efforts on customers you are more likely to win, you can improve your win/loss ratio. 

Reviewing Customer Bids

Are all customer bids/estimates reviewed by at least one other person? If not, they should be. Your customer bid is the beginning of a contractual agreement, one that binds your company to the customer. Reviews are essential for improving accuracy and serve as an ongoing training tool. Some review requirements may include:

  • New estimators that need training
  • Tiered bid value amount, larger bids require multiple reviews to ensure accuracy
  • New resources (people or equipment) that may need additional reviews for accuracy
  • New types of work, if your company traditionally bids on commercial but are now bidding residential projects, you may need additional reviews for accuracy
  • Tight schedule, some bids may be required tight deadlines that include penalties for schedule delays

Bottom Line

Improving your win/loss ratio with customer bids/estimates can make a huge difference in the work you win. For example, if you are bidding on 400 projects a month (100 per week) and  you are able to increase your win ratio from 10% to 12% (a 2% difference), that’s an additional 8 projects per month or close to 100 projects more per year. If you average $50,000 per project (keep the math simple) that’s close to a $5 Million increase in annual revenue. That simple increase is worth investing time and effort into. 

How are we going to get through 2020?

The pandemic continues to change the construction economy in ways economists will be studying for decades. There is no silver bullet to solve worksite issues, all we have are people, process, and tools to solve the challenges of social distancing, supplier slowdowns, uncertain project schedules, a workforce susceptible to the pandemic, and a global economic slowdown. 

What do we need to make it through the economic pandemic? In a word, innovation. Our industry has been slowly adopting a digitalized workflow process by strategically implementing software and new technologies to improve productivity, safety, and lower costs. In addition, the construction industry is dealing with a historic labor and expertise shortage. There are still a significant number of companies that use a paper process for managing timecards and schedules. Surprisingly, this is part of the pandemic issue. I met with one company who’s bookkeeper refused to touch the paper timecards crews turned in. Migrating to a digital workflow in part or entirely will help with issues like this. A digital process allows your team to work and view project health from anywhere, even if they are home on self quarantine. 

The momentum of any construction project moves forward like a micro-economy with its constituents working together in coordinated lurches in productivity. A large part of ‘moving the ball forward one yard at a time’ in construction is balancing schedules and compromise. With Covid19, there are and will continue to be unexpected areas that will require compromise. Some of these compromises on the job site are mandated by OSHA and social distancing. Others will be in schedules where workers testing positive for Covid can cause delays and safety issues. Any successful project has always required some degree of compromise working together with contractors, suppliers, subcontractors, service providers, and workers. Figuring out how to keep project and job momentum moving forward requires additional tools to measure and manage resources in a detailed way, all the way down to the individual crew or worker. 

A digital process also helps keep track of the financial health of a project. Near real time reporting and timecard/daily integration give you the benefit of knowing exactly how your projects are doing. Proactively managing projects gives you a degree of flexibility to proactively work with customers on change orders and schedule changes. 

2020 is also an election year and November is sure to provide more uncertainty than confidence that our newly elected officials will break with tradition and actually work together. I sure do miss the days when contentious government still got work done for the benefit of the people. 

The economy overall faces a bumpy ride headed into the healing stage left from the initial shock of the Covid19, according to Michelle Meyer, head of US economics at Bank of America. The consensus among economists seems to be that the US economy has entered the healing phase. No doubt it’s a ‘bumpy’ road through the end of 2020. You need to look at how to survive or thrive in these rocky market conditions. 

We get through 2020 with two concepts that are somewhat foreign to construction; innovation and compromise. The new pandemic normal requires compromises on field and office practices. The faster you can identify and measure job site related changes give you greater flexibility in how to safely and effectively respond. Innovation as noted above,  in digital tools across the construction industry are making a difference. One of our customers is saving over $16,000 in a single month just on labor time savings. Automating processes, such as timecards and project costs enable you detailed insight for decision making and proactively managing customers and expectations.

One of the few bright spots in the future is the possibility of a Covid19 vaccine speculated to arrive in December with production ramping up in January and February. Thousands of brave souls volunteered to receive the vaccine for FDA stage 3 testing, necessary to determine safety and effectiveness. 

So how do we get from here to there through the 4th quarter of 2020. Like many, I will be glad when 2020 is safely behind us and we can get through to the new normal. Whatever that may be, it will be different than past years. Construction forecasts for the 4th quarter of 2020 look pretty bleak. Some believe it will be the closest thing to a construction economy collapse as we have ever come. Some are more optimistic citing the continued demand for new construction and enough booked work to get through to next year. Construction is very regional, some areas are thriving while others are not. The US economy has officially been in a recession since February 2020. There was some help with the PPP and emergency Covid19 business loan initiatives from the federal government. These programs were well intended but they were a drop in the bucket compared to a thriving economy. I have listed below some of the more useful sites and you work your way through the challenge of 2020 and onto a brighter 2021 

If you haven’t taken a look at CrewBuilder yet, I invite you to spend some time with me to see how CrewBuilder can work for you. 

Stats around the Web:

US Commerce Department

  • The U.S. economy suffered its worst period ever in the second quarter, with GDP falling a historic 32.9%
  • Neither the Great Depression nor the Great Recession nor any other slump over the past two centuries have ever caused such a sharp drain on the economy

Construction Analytics:

  • Even with new construction starts down 10%-15%, cash flow patterns are still indicating nonresidential construction spending will be up in 2020. Greatest strength is in non-building work. A reduction in 2020 new construction starts will show the greatest impact in 2021.
  • Expect 2020 spending declines in Amuse/Rec, Lodging, Offc, Mnfg. Expect increases in CommRtl (it’s all in warehouses, stores are down), and most non-building markets.
  • Highway and Bridge represents almost 40% of non-building markets and starts are up 8% for the 1st half 2020 compared to same period 2019.

CrewBuilder by TrenLot, Inc. Selected by Shadow Ventures for Startup Spotlight

Please join us with Shadow Ventures for TrenLot’s Startup Showcase on May 7th at 3:00 PM Eastern (noon Pacific). The CrewBuilder solution will be showcased by Shadow Lab’s community. “We are thrilled to once again participate in the premier Construction Tech Community at Shadow Labs”, said Greg Howard, Co-founder at TrenLot, Inc. “Shadow Ventures is a valuable resource to TrenLot. Our participation in the Shadow Labs Community continues to be rewarding.”

Please join us on May 7th for the Startup Spotlight:

From Shadow Ventures:

Construction needs to move to the cloud – and TrenLot’s CrewBuilder done that. With making it easy to implement and increase project profit, what isn’t there to like? The labor shortage in construction is forcing companies to try and squeeze out every bit of labor they can out of their existing workforce. How can you make the most out of project management, business scaling, and more – all while wasting less time and resources? 1 answer – CrewBuilder.

Why does Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Matter in Construction?

Why you should care about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Construction Technology

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies are being used to create a wave of smarter construction technology products designed to improve productivity (reduce costs) and reduce risk improving profitability.

The emerging wave of construction technologies using AI and ML fall into two benefit categories, improving productivity and reducing risk. Productivity improvements enable existing office and field workers to get more done, in part by automating processes where possible. Some people have voiced concerns that AI and ML technologies will replace office and field workers. I don’t believe this will be the case. The simple and often used analogy is the evolution of hand tools. Power tools didn’t replace workers, they made them way more productive. AI and ML technologies are used to create new types of tools designed to make your day to day operations easier and more productive. The new class of AI and ML powered software and hardware is the next leap in engineering and construction productivity.

The Basics

What is machine learning (ML)? In short, it’s a field of artificial intelligence that uses statistical techniques to give computer systems the ability to learn from data. These systems improve on a specific task over some amount of time. The key requirement for machine learning is data, and lots of it. For construction, examples of ML range from project schedule optimization to project site image processing for safety and other yet to be thought of things too.

What is artificial intelligence (AI)? AI has a broad definition and is generally defined as any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chances of successfully achieving its goals. In short, it could be lots of stuff from smart support bots to self-guided missiles.

What is natural language processing (NLP)? I came across a really good article on VentureBeat by guest author Arthur Coleman the outlines when natural language processing pays off with Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). As the article mentioned, NLP has up until recently been extremely difficult to get right. NLP is a system that listens to someone talk and attempt to interpret what was said. NLP generally identifies the “intent” of the speaker and enable that intent to be used digitally. If I say “I’m hungry”, an NLP would listen and process my language and identify my intent as “hungry”. What’s done with the intent after is entirely up to the system programmers. This is how Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa work.

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Why use these technologies in construction software?

Simply put, to make your job easier. AI and ML are tools that help with daily operations to reduce errors, save time & money, and reduce risk. The smart folks at McKinsey & Company recently wrote a report, Artificial intelligence: Construction technology’s next frontier.

They are basically saying that AI and ML are tools that can be implemented in software and hardware that will benefit “stakeholders across the project lifecycle—including contractors, operators, owners, and service providers.” We agree. Advances have been made on the job site from autonomous heavy earth moving equipment to robots that monitor safety.

The industry continues to move from a paper process to the digital realm. With that migration comes a learning curve. People have to learn how to use new systems and software. We know this is a challenge, construction companies today don’t have the time to pull people off projects to train them for a week on how to use new software. There’s no wonder why construction companies consistently rate “Ease of Use” as one of the top criteria for selecting software. If the software is too difficult to use, it won’t get used.

CrewBuilder uses AI and ML as tools to lower the learning curve and help people start using the software with little or no required training. We made it super easy to use CrewBuilder by incorporating a natural language processor and AI so all you need to do is simply tell CrewBuilder what you want to do and it does it. It’s kind of like Alexa for construction. The digital assistant continually learns and improves with use. The more it’s used, the better it gets.

We call our digital assistant Bob. We’ve entertained several acronyms for what B.O.B could be (Brain on Board, Building on Business, Best of Breed, Battery Operated Builder, Building Operations Buddy, etc…), honestly we just wanted something simple. Maybe we’ll have a contest for the best BOB definition someday soon.

You can ask Bob in CrewBuilder questions on how to use it, for example, if you are a field worker you can ask “What am I supposed to do today?” and Bob will show you. Part of our goal was to create integrated systems that understands what you want to do, to make sure you never have to go hunting obscure documentation to figure out how to do something in our software. Instead, just ask.

Part of the intent is to reduce the amount of times you have to call in for support. We are happy to help customers use CrewBuilder, but if you’re like me and are impatient at times, I want my questions answered now and don’t want to wait for support.

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In addition to NLP, we use ML for scheduling and capacity management. Scheduling crews can be challenging and time consuming. We talked with one company that had 27 crews and 6 Superintendents to see how they schedule. Every Thursday, the Superintendents take turns filling out a spread sheet starting at 10 am. By the time all the horse trading is done about which Foreman has which crew, and who is working on which project, the schedule often is finalized around 10 pm. That’s a long day.

Scheduling is an area CrewBuilder uses ML to create an initial crew schedule based on experience, skills, and project requirements. We call it Thinking Schedules because we built intelligence tools like conflict checkers (double booking, missing certifications or skills) and capacity planning on a short- and long-term basis.

Scheduling is part art and part science, very few schedules are perfect the first time. With CrewBuilder, the schedule is created based on project requirements, so at least you know you won’t double book anyone or send someone out with the wrong certifications, credentials, or skills. Starting with a known “Good” crew schedule saves a ton of time before the crew swapping starts (because some Superintendents have a favorite crew or two).

There are other areas we are developing AI and ML tools in CrewBuilder that help make projects more successful. We think that AI and ML are mature technologies that enable better tools for construction companies operate more efficient and profitably.

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You might be asking why we use drone images. The images and video produced by construction drones are being used in AI and ML applications by many companies.

Capacity Planning in Construction: How to balance your project pipeline and people

Capacity planning is at the core of good project management, having the right resources scheduled at the right time can make the difference between a profitable project and a loss. Keeping everything together is challenging, but it’s required to keep your projects and company profitable.

By its definition capacity planning is “the process of determining the production capacity needed by an organization to meet changing demands for its products”. For construction, this means the existing process you have to determine what resources you need to complete all projects. Capacity, generally speaking, means labor and materials.

If you are a sub-contractor, this means you need to forecast the labor you need to complete when scheduling a project. Managing crews and be challenging with understanding accurate labor costs, keeping accurate timecards, and assembling & scheduling the right crew with the right certifications/credentials. Most of the time materials have a reasonable lead time to delivery. That said, a poorly trained or misinformed framer can make a costly mistake and short cut hundreds of feet of boards on a project, increasing the materials cost. Things like this happen and can put project profitability at risk. Not tracking these kinds of things make it even more impossible determine if a project if profitable or not. Tracking performance is a key part of capacity planning.

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If you are a general contractor or are a sub-contractor managing other sub-contractors, this means you need to work with sub-contractor schedules and material delivery forecasts. It goes without saying (which generally means it needs to be said), the more effective and timely communication you have with your sub-contractors and vendors, the more likely you are to develop a realistic project completion date.

At the beginning of a project, we can schedule resources—things like crew/team time and materials or other contractors. With business booming, work for many contractors’ ebbs and flows with their bid conversion ratio. The age-old contractor challenge: when you don’t have enough work, you drop your prices to make sure you have work in the future… when you have too much work, you increase the price you bids because in the event you win the job you will need to hire more people to execute the project.

Why is capacity planning important in construction? The obvious reason is to reduce the risk to your company by developing a strategy that handles the increase or decrease in your project pipeline. Here are a few things to consider in your capacity planning strategy…

What’s forecasted in your future? Filling the project pipeline is the front office activity of sales and marketing. Forecasting sales for your business can be one of the most difficult things to do. Some contractors view their forecast as simple as winning one out of ten bids, so the more bids you participate in, the more work you will have. Forecasting you project pipeline can be a much more detailed process. Suffice it to say that your sales team matters and needs to be included in capacity planning. If your sales people aren’t used to forecasting the deals they are likely to close, train them up.

Your people matter in capacity planning. You will likely know how much your people can handle. You should be tracking how your people perform with a good understanding of their capacity. Some people can indeed do more than others, but with the right tools and training everyone can do more. Managers often have a good feel for how much labor they need or sub-contractor availability. Managers need to be part of the capacity planning process, they can often identify likely issues with vendors, material delivery. Also, they will have valuable input on other variables, such as an opinion on the weather and how it may impact a project schedule.

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I’m oversimplifying this, but there are basically two approaches to capacity planning, being proactive and being reactionary (technically there are 4, so I’m oversimplifying here). It may sound strange but both are valid strategies.

Getting ahead of a short-term labor shortage can save you in terms of customer relationships, company reputation, and the ability to complete a project. On the opposite side, investing in recruitment and a vendor diversification plan that you ‘may’ not need costs money. Adding people, vendors, and new sub-contractors as you need them is a conservative strategy that ensures you are paying to acquire only the resources you need. This ‘Lag Strategy’ (adding resources only after existing capacity is peaked out) can be detrimental to a project’s schedule costing more to complete the project the longer it takes. Finding the right balanced strategy is what you will need to determine in what’s right for your organization.


Ideally you would use tools that are collecting the information you need, such as bid tracking conversion rates, employee management, project management, budget management, communications, document management and others. For the construction industry, some of the construction management software like ours or others help with capacity planning. There are software developers that just focus on human resources capacity planning (though they generally have a focus in IT projects). You don’t need software to determine capacity planning, but it makes it a lot easier. There are lots of resources, tools, and books that focus only on capacity planning. Here is a simplified approach:

Start with your forecast. Talk with your sales team to figure out a realistic sales forecast. This means they need to look at each deal and determine how likely (generally as a percentage) your company is going to win each bid. Besides, and arguably as import you need to know when the award will be made. You need to know what bids you’re most likely to win and when those projects deadlines happen.

Once you have a realistic (or as realistic as you can make it) forecast, you can overlay forecasted projects with existing resources. Managed growth is good, unmanaged growth is risky. Analyze the current snapshot of your organization and compare it to 30, 60 and 90 days out. Depending you’re your business, you may need to look 6 months to a year out for some resources, such as heavy equipment purchases and other resources that may be required for growth.

Identify the things you need and make a plan that include how and when to acquire it. For people, there are two basic ways to get the expertise you need, acquire them (hire, generally expensive) and train them (takes longer but you tailor their training to your company needs). If you need to hire a key project manager, it could take up to 90 days to find the right one. If you need sub-contractors in 30 days and your existing subs are too busy, use your sub-contractor evaluation and approval program to find and approve new sub-contractor resources. If you don’t have a vendor evaluation process, you should create one.

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You need to task someone with the responsibility of always keeping an eye on capacity management and provide regular reports. Armed with knowing what you have and what you need, it’s easier to decide on when to take action to add the resources you need to handle growth.

Once you have a good understanding of what you need to add the resources you need to complete forecasted projects, you need to decide that suites your company’s situation and needs.

  1. Task someone with the responsibility of capacity planning.
  2. Generate sales forecasts on a monthly and quarterly basis.
  3. Implement a system for measuring the performance of existing resources specifically to understand existing capacity.
  4. Compare forecasted project resource needs to your company’s capacity.
  5. Identify under and over capacity in your organization with forecasted capacity needs.
  6. Create a plan to acquire or adjust the necessary resources your organization needs.
  7. Decide on when to implement resource acquisition.

Does Your Company Have a Culture of Safety That Reduces Costs and Increases Profit?

Every manager is responsible for setting and enforcing business culture expectations. At the top of every successful company’s priority list is safety. Setting a company culture starts at the top and starts with clear policies and procedures that are supported and enforced down the line. Having the right tools to keep clear communications between the office and field are a fundamental requirement for promoting safety. Even with State and OSHA safety requirements, it seems inevitable that accidents happen that could have been avoided. Construction deaths from injury are up from 937 in 2015 to 991 in 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The slight uptick in deaths resulting from injury in construction, it’s fairly normalized with the increased number of total hours worked multiplied by average hours (more hours were worked by more people in construction in 2016). That said, it’s comparable to the 951 people who died from “Contact with powered lawnmower” in 2016.

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OSHA and State(s) require safety plans and regular safety meetings, generally 1 meeting every 10 working days or once a month depending on industry. These are great opportunities to help set your company’s culture with an emphasis on safety. One way to support your focus on safety is to create a simple reward plan for following safety policies that result in zero injuries. Part of promoting safety is to keep everything together and organized.


A safety incentive program should include everybody, from the back office to the field. The program reward can be something everyone gets, such as a lottery scratcher ticket. Every month, when there are no injuries, everyone on the team gets the reward. It may seem like a simple reward, but companies that have implemented a program like this have seen solid results. Some employees get upset when they don’t get their incentive reward—they are vocal with others to ensure the safe record. Obtaining this buy-in from your people will help automate accountability and profitability. Teams that have a vested interest toward a common goal will often self-police to ensure everyone is on the same page.

If you want to keep your team more engaged with safety, consider a slightly more elaborate and fun way to keep people involved. A friend of mine uses Safety Bingo to promote safety. Every month, each crew member is given a safety bingo card (you can get a free bingo card template here) At the end of each work week all crew members are given the bingo number or word. At the end of the month, the person that gets safety bingo gets a $100 tool. You would be surprised at how proud of a new quality tool some people can be. It’s a small price to pay to promote a safe work environment. The alternative of increased insurance rates and potential business loss is likely more expensive in more ways than one. One safety issue can send a project into a dizzying financial tailspin and damage your company reputation.


There are plenty of ways to be creative and effective with your safety incentive program. Create a program with rewards that suite your company culture. Rewards don’t always have to be monetary, they could include special recognition for safety contributions.

The bottom line is that when everyone in the company in mindful of safety, everyone benefits. Safety mindfulness as part of a healthy business culture influences all aspects of operations, including the bottom line.

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How Technology Can Reduce Complexity and Increase Profit on Construction Projects

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s truer in construction. What’s the first image that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘construction site’? The mental picture summoned up generally looks something like an excavated site with people working on it wearing helmets and goggles. This mental image reflects the external characteristics of the contractors working on the site, the business and operation engines behind the businesses are much more obscured. Behind this image are project managers and superintendents that manage the workflow, many with spreadsheets and good old-fashioned notepads. These front line managers often don’t know if a project is on track to be profitable until the accountant runs the numbers at the end of the month.

Every construction project has its own set of unique challenges because of complex operations ranging over the project life cycle. It’s rarely possible to keep track of everything that happens on a work site. Many factors arise that serve to distort communications and operations, such as weather, site location, cell phone reception, Internet access, missed emails, scheduling conflicts, and many more. It’s not if something goes wrong, it’s when. There is no way to eliminate problems on projects, it’s impossible. What you can and should do is to work towards implementing processes and policies that reduce the risk as much as possible. One of the way we can keep projects safe and profitable is by using technology to automate some, most or all areas of operation. Two key areas are bidding and planning. Both areas have lots of options in the market, you are bound to find one or two that work for you.

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Bidding is the first major cog in the business engine, without successful bidding a company will go nowhere. Bidding ranges from simple to complex depending on the project and if you are a General or Sub Contractor. Whether you are bidding to residential consumers or the Federal Government, you need a successful strategy that includes the ability to quickly create bids in order to be responsive to your customer.

There are many Sub Contractor specific bidding tools that enable you to use pre-defined values for common tasks, such as the time it takes to install an electrical panel and run 1,000 ft of wire on 20 drops. These tools make it fast and easy to create bids. Using bidding software can reduce the time it takes to create bids so you can get more done in the day.

It’s not enough to crank out bids fast, you need to track bids whether successful or not and compare them to your job costs. Tracking your contract budgets with bids over time gives you the data to make better decisions on bids. For example, do you have the resource capacity to execute the project, how much do you need to sharpen your pencil to get the business. Tracking project costs to the contract budget tells you which ones had the most profit, change order costs, how much labor it took, what loss rates were on materials used, and many other metrics you need to be more successful.

Tools like Excel are great, they work well and are easy to use, and with a little effort you can customize a spreadsheet to meet your needs. The challenge with spreadsheet driven bids is that they are not connected to anything else that automatically tracks the difference between the bids and the costs. The most effective way to streamline bidding is to use software that fits your needs. Use some software that works for you. You don’t have to use ours, but I hope you give it a try.


Planning your project is critical, but if you are like 99.999% of the rest of us that work on projects, you know that nothing ever goes according to plan. Plan, then plan for the plan to change. Keep it simple, flexible, and adaptable. There are a range of tools on the market to help with planning. Nearly every contractor I talk to about how they use software for planning tell me the same thing… they use it to set up the main project plan, then never touch it again after they print out a hard copy to pin on the construction trailer wall. Tools like Microsoft Project work well and are widely used today. Most of the Gantt Chart based project management tools in the market are not connected to anything and cannot dynamically update as things change. Updating projects in planning software requires manual entry on an ongoing basis with any project, which means it generally doesn’t get done.

Dynamic project management takes project planning software to the next level, but it requires technical connections among project partners and software companies. In short dynamic project management factors in the fact that projects change quickly and we need to adapt quickly to manage them. You need an adaptive process coupled with predictive tools, such as automated critical path analysis.

Using the right software will reduce complexity and increase profit margins in your organization. If you don’t know if your projects are on track to be profitable or not, you need to take a close look at software tools that work with your processes that automatically track project costs and budgets. Don’t wait until the end of the month to find out project costs are out of control.

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