Challenges facing the construction industry and how to resolve them



By Dwain Browne

Special to the Barrie Construction Report

If you’re running a construction or skilled trades business, you are all too familiar with the issues surrounding the current workforce shortage. There are simply not enough workers to keep up with the demands of a growing business. Business owners are struggling to keep projects on schedule and meet customers’ expectations.

A recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that 79 per cent of construction companies want to hire more employees this year, but the industry is only estimated to grow its workforce by 0.5% annually for the next 10 years. Another recent study suggested that the construction industry in Toronto alone needs an extra 150,000 workers just to meet current demands.

The worker shortage has brought to light even bigger problems that exist within the construction industry; poor productivity and inefficient processes.  Over 80 per cent of the businesses we spoke to are primarily using manual business processes. As business owners struggle to do more work with fewer workers, these broken processes and outdated management practices are more apparent than ever. After interviewing hundreds of business owners in the construction industry, we have identified three main challenges that are affecting productivity.

Scheduling challenges

Issues around the scheduling of workers and the allocation of resources were challenges shared by 90 per cent of the business owners we spoke with. Trying to find out the status of ongoing jobs, the location of each worker and resource availability monopolizes much of the managing staff’s time and attention. At the end of the day, a business owner’s goal is to maximize earnings per employee. If owners can’t figure out how to allocate resources properly that directly affects the bottom-line.

Project cost

Accurate costing is a challenge shared by many business owners. Projects that run over budget and time can directly affect profit margins. Not only that, poor project costing can bleed over into customer relations and may cause problems with customer retention. Running over budget and time can cause issues around your insurance and can affect your coverage on future projects.

Paperwork mess

Most businesses we spoke to said document organization within their company was a huge issue. Construction businesses have so many moving parts that good organization is crucial to getting things done. Every member of the staff often has a different method for staying organized. Different workflows, varying folder structures and inconsistent processes make locating documents a total nightmare and a big contributor to overall inefficiencies.

At the end of the day, if you can’t find a way to mitigate these issues, the worker shortage problem will become insurmountable. Luckily, software can provide solutions to all these challenges.  The right software solution can help you utilize the staff and resources you have so you can keep up with your current projects while continuing to grow your business.

Dwain Browne is the founder and CEO of SnapSuite, a software company that provides solutions exclusively for businesses in the skilled trades and construction industries.