Tech Tools to Manage Subcontractors

By Andreas Rivera
Business.com / Accounting / Last Modified: December 19, 2017
Photo credit: Surawit Klanliang/Shutterstock

Upgrade from a clipboard and pen to cloud-based apps to help track subcontractors' work.

Construction projects on a larger scale require several subcontractors, and that can cause a logistical mess for contractors trying to keep the project organized and on track while managing tight budgets and schedules. Keeping track of the outside companies you bring in to complete certain tasks is prudent; otherwise, you run the risk of running behind or overbudget if they're not doing their jobs in a timely and efficient manner.

If you wear multiple hats for your company along with your hard hat, staying organized is essential. Fortunately, you can ditch the piles of paperwork thanks to several tech solutions to help you manage the subcontractors on your project.

Solutions for job management, workforce management, and data gathering can help you cut down the paperwork and are often software as a service (SaaS) applications you can run from both the office or the field using a smartphone or tablet.

When shopping around for any of these applications, you should note how incorporating this tech will impact your company's regular workflow.

"Simplicity for all staff to use – an app is only effective if both field and office staff are onboard. Good tech tools need to be easier than the alternative and not significantly change how a business works," Cameron Allen, marketing manager for APE Mobile, said.

Job management software

Plans for your construction project should include detailed descriptions and specifications for the jobs you need assigned to subcontractors. Job management programs can help you lay out the specific needs and expectations for those jobs, award subcontractors' bids and continue tracking the progress of the job along with budgets and invoicing.

WorkflowMax is a job management program that allows you to better manage subcontractors by collaborating with them through the software. Set up job specifications, budgets and timetables, while giving subcontractors a special login to the software so they can report updates, request changes and leave other messages.

Software like this allows you to plan out your project through timelines, letting you track actual work done against your estimates. Having an organized plan of action will help you run a tight ship and make sure your subcontractors don’t stray from the timeline.

Workforce management software

While there are plenty of programs you can use to plan from your desk, there are also apps to assist you on the construction site during work to keep everyone on track. Workforce management programs on a mobile device can be a foreman’s best friend. Such apps let you view the schedules for your crew and subcontractors.

Operation software such as Assignar and Geniebelt are mobile and allow you to manage the construction site in real time. You can draft inspection checklists and forms for routine check-ins, organize timesheets, gather compliance and safety forms and compile them all into complete reports.

Their communication platforms not only allow you to keep in touch with the office but also allow you to monitor your subcontractors and dispatch them to tasks you deem a priority. You'll be able to keep track of where crews and subcontractors are assigned at any given time, so you can more efficiently allocate resources to where they're really needed. Track materials and orders and assign them to different sites.

Assigner has a feature that allows you to set up email or SMS groups for workers and subcontractors to let you notify them of shift changes, send reminders for deadlines and send alerts for weather and other changes to plans.

These programs can be integrated with major accounting programs, so you don't have to enter in timesheets twice and allowing you to get accurate labor costs.

Data gathering software

A lot of factors determine whether a construction project will run under budget and ahead of schedule, or over budget and late. Data collection is a good habit for construction companies to get into so they can make better decisions come the next big project.

"I believe data capture to be the single most important function for subcontractor management," Allen said. "There is more and more competition within the construction industry, and construction companies need to be data driven to be competitive."

Plenty of construction companies make the mistake of going with the cheapest subcontractor they can find. They can then find themselves over budget and behind schedule thanks to the poor quality of work that subcontractor submitted.

Keeping accurate data on subcontractors and their work will help you make better-informed decisions for the future, and if that company is worth working with again. APE Mobile comes with several templates specific to construction management that can help calculate the ROI on certain subcontractors and let you further optimize your workflow. You'll save money by avoiding redoing work and picking the best subcontractor for your money.

Summary

There's nothing wrong with the traditional clipboard and pen, but as construction projects get larger and more complicated, consider upgrading to a tablet with these software solutions. It'll be worth it to learn these programs so you can better keep track of your subcontractors, making sure they're on time and efficient with their work. Ultimately these tools can help you make smarter decisions to save your company money and time. Using data to create detailed reports to see which subcontractors are valuable and which ones just aren't cutting it

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