How to Improve Workflow and Resource Planning Through Automation
Any project requires flexible, reliable, and efficient planning to manage workflow and resources.
19:57 29 September 2022
Construction projects, in particular, are susceptible to delays, mismanagement, and low productivity if resources are not used efficiently or workflows are not defined properly. The answer to all these problems lies in automation.
Resource planning and workflow management can be simplified with the help of tools. For instance, construction workforce management software can help project managers and leaders plan better and use their resources to the best of their capacity. You can check out this site for the best construction workforce management software recommendations.
In this article, we will discuss the common resource and workflow planning problems in construction projects and how automation can help.
Understanding resource planning
Resource planning involves identifying and organizing the resources for a project. A resource can be any asset necessary to complete the project. Resources may include people, materials, tools, data, time, equipment, vendors, etc.
With resource planning, project managers can highlight the necessary resources and their quantities for the entire project or specific phases. Resource planning typically goes hand-in-hand with scheduling and budgeting, as both are contingent on resource availability.
Depending on the size and complexity of the project, resource planning can be a challenging part of project planning. However, it’s integral to the timely completion of the project. Without adequate resource planning, there is the risk of resource shortage or poor use of resources, even if there are no shortages.
Resource planning may involve hiring new workers to meet the project needs or fill the skill gaps in the project teams. According to research by the Associated General Contractors, 80 percent of contractors face difficulty finding qualified workers, which indicates a shortage of the most critical resource for construction projects.
Workflows are repeatable, tedious tasks or business processes defined by a point of start and completion. These workflows define the tasks, resources, time, dependencies, and criteria for successful completion.
As there are hundreds of project tasks, not having well-defined workflows can cause chaos. Workflow management doesn’t just end with defining the workflows for the specific project. Still, it requires active monitoring to adjust for changes, for example, unavailability of a resource or a weather emergency.
Workflow automation streamlines these tasks with processes and actively manages them in the background based on their status (in progress, delayed, or completed). It can prioritize certain tasks to ensure minimum disruption to other workflows.
The workflow automation market is growing at a CAGR of 23.4 percent and is poised to cross $78 billion by 2030.
Common issues with workflow and resource planning
It’s no secret that the construction industry has slowly adopted automation. According to a study, the manufacturing and agriculture sectors have seen higher productivity growth, unlike the construction sector, which has not embraced automation quickly.
Poor productivity is among the many problems arising from resource planning and workflow management. Here are some of the other issues:
- Lack of labor - There has been a considerable labor force shortage in the construction industry for various reasons. This can be challenging for resource planning as there are not enough people to get jobs done.
- Skill gaps - The resources often lack skills that result in delays in workflows. More importantly, resources are often not assigned based on skill sets, which worsens the situation.
- Equipment maintenance - Scheduling of workflows often fails to consider equipment maintenance, which can cause unforeseen delays.
- Poor communication - Either there’s a lack of communication or too much back and forth, which wastes paid hours for the contractors.
Benefits of automating workflow and resource planning
Automation can solve many issues with resource and workflow management. While there are solutions for both resource planning and workflow automation, the best approach is to use a tool that integrates both.
Here is how automation helps to improve workflow and resource planning:
Technology that relies on data can predict workloads better than humans. In other words, it can forecast things like the resources, time, and money needed for a particular task. A resource planning tool can assign duties more efficiently with a real-time overview of resource availability and task requirements.
As much as availability is necessary for assignment and scheduling, skills and experience are also important to ensure no hurdles or loss of quality.
With limited resources, selecting the best person for the job can be challenging, but using a tool can simplify the process. It can set certain conditions for specific tasks that the resource must meet to qualify for. That can help project managers identify the gaps in skill sets early on and look for new hires before it has begun.
Fewer conflicts and dependencies
Workflows rely on resources and poor resource assignment results in delays. In any project, conflicts can arise, especially for workflows with dependencies. For instance, tasks using concrete are dependent on delivery from concrete vendors. If there is no concrete, the workers cannot do their job.
Now, automation can streamline scheduling and identify critical dependencies so that managers can oversee these workflows more actively and ensure there are no delays.
Similarly, construction workforce management software can address scheduling conflicts by adjusting for time offs or holidays.
Measurable and actionable tasks
According to research, 52% of business leaders show interest in workflow automation.
With workflow automation, tasks are defined by clear requirements and goals. In other words, processes run smoothly. Subsequently, there is less confusion or budget overruns.
Similarly, workflow automation can save time by speeding up routine tasks. For example, thanks to digitizing approvals, leaders can approve progress faster, and workers can immediately get to the next phase.
Workflow and resource planning is crucial for the timely completion of the project, the quality, and client satisfaction. Resource planning is especially important for the construction industry due to the rampant labor shortage and skill gaps. Automating these critical components of project planning can address risks and issues early on.
As your workforce is your primary resource and responsible for most workflows, a construction workforce management tool can help you plan better. It can automate most mundane tasks and leverage the power of data for defining workflows and assigning resources.