No matter how we define productivity, it’s important to know who our most productive employees are. Whether they complete work on time, help to deliver projects on budget or minimize unnecessary overtime, modern construction companies need to keep track of employee performance using metrics they can track and verify.
“I recall a family-owned company that specialized in highway paving where the experienced owner could keep track of employee productivity in his head,” says Geoffrey Falk, senior product manager at Spectrum Business Intelligence, a web-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that’s part of the Viewpoint Construction Software product suite. “He had a ‘gut feel’ about each of his employees and he was probably right. The problem is that this talent isn’t scalable. If your company grows from 300 to 600 employees you can’t keep the information in your head. And you can’t pass that skill onto someone else by training them to do it before you retire.”
Spectrum provides leading-edge tools for accounting, project management, equipment and materials management, service management, document control, HR, payroll and inventory that can help transform the “gut feel” into actionable information. It allows construction companies to define productivity, identify the right data to collect and create productivity reports associated with their superintendents and managers.
“Sometimes the person who is working hardest or logging the longest hours isn’t your most productive employee,” says Falk. “To know which staff members are most productive requires you to go deeper. With that information, you can find out what you can do to make your workplace more profitable and efficient.”
For example, a project requiring a crew to install fibre-optic cable will have been costed out during project estimates in terms of labour and materials per foot and expected profit. Spectrum’s real-time productivity tools can produce daily reports on such a project on demand.
“When a Spectrum daily report shows you the red flag of profit fade, you can go to the superintendent to find out if there’s something to be done to fix it,” says Falk. “Maybe your estimate was overly optimistic and you need to adjust future estimates for the same kind of work. Perhaps material costs have risen substantially. Perhaps your superintendent was assigned a crew of less-experienced workers. Perhaps there’s a huge change order that hasn’t yet been documented and needs to be so that you can get paid for it. Monitoring productivity helps you to find the right person to explain that situation and turn it around, or to help an employee get back on track.”
Expressing productivity in terms of solid data also helps decision-makers to discuss strategy in a common language.
“Employee retention is an extremely important consideration today,” say Falk. “If you want to make a case for giving your most productive managers a raise, it’s easy to produce a report that justifies that recommendation.”
The strength of the Spectrum ERP is its ability to customize reports and produce the information construction professionals need to know without requiring them to understand complex coding or instructions.
“We don’t expect you to look at an obscure data field marked ‘JC2’ and try to figure out what we meant by that,” Falk says. “You’ll see a field marked ‘Job #’ instead. The software also makes it easy to express productivity in whatever way suits you best — hours over dollars, dollars over hours — just by dragging a few fields on the browser-based screen.”
It’s a capability that was once limited to only the largest construction companies with big data management budgets.
“Now it’s available to everyone,” says Falk. “You can drill as deep as you like into the data on your own, without having to ask data professionals for help. You can run Spectrum like a turbo prop plane or a Boeing 777. It’s up to you.”
This content is sponsored by Viewpoint Construction Software in collaboration with ConstructConnect™ Media. To learn more about Viewpoint, visit www.viewpoint.com.