7 Effective Ways to Manage Resources in AEC Projects
According to a survey, the global Architectural, Engineering and Construction market is projected to grow to USD 17.57 billion by 2030.
The growth of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry can be attributed to the surge in infrastructure projects, technology advancements, government initiatives, etc.
As an industry that leverages numerous human and non-human resources, it is essential to manage them effectively to ensure successful project delivery. With effective resource management, AEC firms can utilize the right resources for the project at the right time and costs to meet the changing client demands.
Moreover, it also enhances the workers’ performance and productivity and ensures the completion of projects within the stipulated time and budget. This will ultimately improve their ROI and organizational profitability.
This article discusses proven strategies to manage the AEC resources and how SAVIOM can be beneficial.
Before that, let’s understand the characteristics of the AEC industry.
2. What are the key characteristics of the AEC industry?
The AEC industry depends on several resources like architects, contractors, construction workers, supervisors, equipment, plant, machinery, etc. Below are some of the unique characteristics of the AEC industry:
- The AEC projects are highly complex, involving various materials, equipment vendors, suppliers, contractors, managers, supervisors, etc. They also have several activities happening simultaneously.
- Each construction projects differ based on geographical and weather conditions like climate, working conditions, etc.
- AEC projects are typically time-consuming, last for months or years, and the budget is also high.
- The employment pattern in the AEC industry is different from other industries. The onsite construction workers are chosen based on their manual skills and not on academic proficiency. Moreover, the seasonal and migratory labor force is assigned to projects on an ad-hoc and piece-rate basis.
Now that we know the characteristics of the AEC sector let’s learn some strategies to manage resources in the AEC projects.
3. Best ways to manage the resources in AEC projects
Since AEC projects are labor-driven, resources need to be effectively managed. Here are some proven methods:
3.1 Establish a single source of truth for the construction workforce
Most AEC industries manage resources and procure data using legacy tools and spreadsheets. Unfortunately, this leads to siloed information and doesn’t provide real-time data related to resource attributes and schedules. This often leads to double booking, wasteful hiring/firing cycles, etc.
With a centralized database, managers can have complete visibility into the AEC resources’ profile and attribute like skills, competencies, availability, cost, etc. Furthermore, a single source of truth will enable them to allocate the right resource to the project well in advance, thereby avoiding scheduling conflicts and resource overloading.
3.2 Foresee and bridge the demand gap of AEC resources in advance
Most AEC firms face resource-related challenges like an aging workforce and a lack of new-generation employees. Furthermore, evolving technologies, customer expectations, and global competition have increased the demand for niche skilled professionals. Due to this, the current labor force is experiencing skill shortages.
When managers have foresight into resource requirements, they can identify skill gaps in advance and apply corrective measures accordingly. For instance, a project requires ten engineers with skills like AutoCAD, MATLAB, and RAPID for design work. However, managers could only identify six resources with matching skills in their talent pool. So, they can implement measures like training/Upskilling or initiate hiring techniques to eliminate skill shortages. This can ensure the seamless execution of construction projects and eliminates last-minute hiring hassles.
3.3 Ensure competent allocation of AEC professionals to the project
The availability of resources at the right time is crucial for successful AEC project execution and delivery. Therefore, once the resource manager receives the request for the workers from the project manager, they must assign the available resources to the tasks based on their experiences, skills, competencies, etc.
For instance, the project requires masons to complete the apartment bricklaying. With complete visibility into the resource-related information, managers can quickly narrow their search and choose the right workers for the project. Therefore, with competent allocation, managers can ensure that the projects are completed within the stipulated time and cost.
3.4 Monitor and track utilization levels of construction workers
To increase business profitability, AEC firms must ensure that their employees work on revenue-generating projects. For this, managers must have visibility into the utilization data to track, monitor, and optimally utilize the resources. Tracking the utilization levels enables construction managers to identify the resources that are over/underutilized.
Accordingly, they can apply resource optimization techniques such as leveling and smoothing. Managers can also check on the personnel working on non-billable tasks and mobilize them to billable or strategic work. As a result, this can enhance workforce billability and boost the organization’s profitability.
3.5 Formulate training and upskilling programs for AEC employees
Cutting-edge technologies like AI, ML, Deep Learning, AR/VR, etc., are transforming the AEC industries. To keep pace with these disruptions and avoid skill obsolescence, architects, engineers, and workers should regularly update their competencies and skills.
For this, managers can identify the resources that need to be upskilled and initiate appropriate training programs accordingly. It allows the workforce to diversify their portfolio and improve their billability. This way, they can future-proof the workforce and prepare them to undertake multifaceted projects.
3.6 Manage ramp up/ramp down of AEC projects effectively
The frequency of ramp-ups/ down activities is high in AEC projects right from the initiation to the project closure phase. For instance, in a multistoried building project, the project needs multiple resources, such as engineers and workers in the development stage. But once the phase is over, these professionals will be rolled out and end up on the bench. This will ultimately impact the business’s profitability.
With a foresight into the projects, managers can identify the resources hitting on the bench in advance. Accordingly, they can take remedial measures like allocating work before the employees hit the bench, training/upskilling the benched workers, and using them for future projects. Moreover, partially skilled AEC professionals can be provided with shadowing and on-the-job training opportunities. In this way, they can increase the productivity and billability of the AEC employees.
3.7 Create an effective resource contingency plan
There are various risks involved in the AEC projects like health and safety, unplanned absenteeism, attrition, employee burnout, etc. For instance, a construction worker operating an excavator without a license or training can lead to injury or unforeseen safety risks. These risks will ultimately cause project delays. Hence, managers must implement measures to mitigate these risks.
In addition, a proper backup strategy will help managers to have the resources ready to replace in the absence of any workers or engineers. Additionally, they can conduct site surveys and implement safety measures appropriate to the site. By doing so, the risks can be minimized efficiently, and the projects can be executed smoothly.
Having understood the methods to manage resources effectively, let’s see how an advanced ERM tool can help AEC industries.
4. How can advanced resource management software overcome resourcing challenges in AEC projects?
As the AEC industry employs several resources, managing them effectively contributes to their business growth and profitability. An advanced resource management software like Saviom can help manage the AEC employees in the following ways:
The tool’s 360-degree visibility of the employees’ skills, competencies, experiences, availability, cost, etc., will eliminate the silos of data. Additionally, the advanced filters help managers allocate the best-fit AEC professionals to the projects.
The capacity-vs-demand reports enable managers to foresee future demands and determine the existing skill gaps. Accordingly, they can implement training, upskilling, or hiring a contingent or permanent AEC workforce.
The managers can also identify over/underworked employees with the help of utilization reports and heatmaps that provide insights into real-time utilization levels. Accordingly, appropriate measures to ease the workload can be taken.
The forecast-vs-actual financials will help managers regularly track critical project financial attributes, including costs, revenue, profit margins, and overheads. With this, they can identify any significant variance and act appropriately.
Therefore, implementing a robust resource management tool will help to manage the resources in AEC projects effectively.
The AEC industry faces several resourcing challenges due to technological advancements, fierce competition, etc. Therefore, they must handle these issues appropriately to keep pace with advancements and remain profitable. Following the above strategies and implementing robust resource management software will help manage the resource effectively. Additionally, organizations can successfully drive their projects to completion.