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Subcontractors are an essential component of the construction industry. They give construction companies more flexibility by filling up shortages in manpower, equipment, materials, specialised skills, etc. Instead of investing in these resources, which can be time-consuming and costly, construction companies can obtain them instantly via subcontracting.

For example, construction businesses can reduce the cost of maintaining equipment and facilities or paying labourers off-season by regularly engaging teams of reliable, skilled subcontractors to fill team skill gaps. With subcontractor resourcing allocated effectively, project managers can also concentrate on scaling up the core facets of their business, including boosting risk management and integrating new construction technology.

How to effectively manage subcontractors

Construction companies must maintain healthy and productive collaboration with their subcontractors to ensure the success of each project. However, bringing together teams from different backgrounds and work cultures takes work. Disagreements and disputes could break out if there’s no proper construction subcontractor management system in place. It can be particularly difficult if the construction company manages multiple subcontractors with unique individual terms and conditions.

Managing subcontractors can be a lot easier with the help of digital technology. Many construction companies now use digital construction management software, such as PlanRadar, to expedite sign-offs, negotiation, reporting, and retention processing. In fact, most project management systems are now digital and leverage cloud computing to optimise every aspect of a construction project, from recruitment to material procurement to safety risk planning.

Digital construction management software can provide a host of benefits for those involved in the construction industry. It allows teams to collaborate more effectively and streamline operations, resulting in improved efficiency and cost savings. Additionally, digital solutions make it easier to manage subcontractors by providing visibility into all project activities across different sites and stakeholders. This allows for better control over subcontractor costs and performance, as well as easier communication between construction teams and subcontractors. With real-time updates and alerts, team members can quickly identify issues and take appropriate actions to rectify them.

Digital construction management software also helps increase productivity by providing the necessary tools for project planning, tracking progress, budget management, quality control, safety compliance and more. By utilizing these solutions, construction teams can maximize their efficiency and ensure that all subcontractors are meeting project requirements. Ultimately, digital construction management software provides the tools needed to effectively manage subcontractors and keep projects on track.

There are many ways a construction company can effectively collaborate and manage its subcontractors. Below are some of them:

1. Clarify the contract service terms and conditions

Any construction project involving a head contractor and a subcontractor starts with a written agreement detailing the service terms and conditions. This agreement includes the scope of work, payment terms, licensing and insurance coverage, termination clause, budget breakdown, etc. Everything must be clear and well-defined to avoid misinterpretation, which often leads to complex and costly blunders.

A clear contract is essential in promoting dynamic collaboration between the head contractor and the subcontractor, and between the subcontractor and other subcontractors. This is why both parties give each other time to review it before signing. It must also be clear if adding a rider to the contract is possible to account for unforeseen issues and developments in the project.

The construction company must specifically provide details of the flow-down provisions. These are provisions in the prime contract that all subcontractors must know and agree to before the project commences. Especially if these provisions directly impact scheduling and delivery, all subcontractors must be informed of the flow-down upfront.

2. Making the project schedule clear, doable, and comprehensive

Every project has a target timeframe, and construction companies implement them strictly. Unlike production-based services, project-based services, like construction, have limited wiggle room. Delaying work for a day or two could lead to substantial financial losses. Subcontractors must be informed of the schedule long before they are expected to start so that they can create, validate, and adjust their own schedule.

Like the head contractor, each subcontractor has their own schedule to meet, which may cover the canvasing and acquisition of materials, studying the plan, deployment of personnel, and more. Thankfully, most construction companies are now using a digital construction management platform, which enables not just subcontractors, but all key players of the project to view the detailed schedule. This way, subcontractors know when and where they should enter the scene to do their part.

3. Using a platform that enables open communication

Subcontractor management involves constant communication between the head contractor and the subcontractor. Everyone must be able to seamlessly contact the right person when they have questions or concerns about the project or when they need permission to proceed to a new task. Also, reporting safety risks or accidents on-site that require immediate response shouldn’t take the time or get delayed due to bureaucracy. Delays often lead to disasters leaving irreversible damage and costly repairs.

Through digital team management, all subcontractors, stakeholders, and personnel have access to a platform where they can freely communicate. This platform also allows them to share, sync, and store documents effortlessly and in real time. A data-driven project management platform like this helps reduce errors as they can be dealt with right away. Subcontractors can also review documents relevant to their work through the platform.

4. Provide a risk-free work environment

While subcontractors are usually the ones that bid on construction projects, they, too, qualify the contractors behind the projects they are bidding on. After all, they will be deploying their own workers, who automatically go under the contractor’s care. They want to ensure their workers are in a safe environment and that the contractor puts all field workers’ safety first.

The contractor must have a certified fire safety plan backed by comprehensive fire safety risk assessments. They must provide all personnel with workplace safety training, including who to contact and what to do in an emergency. There must be enough safety tools, signs, and gear at the construction site, including fire extinguishers, hearing and respiratory protection, face shields, and fall arrest tools. Ensuring workplace safety is the best way to motivate employees to continue doing their best.

5. Use tools that enable smooth team collaboration

Subcontractors are looking for a way to easily collaborate with the head contractor and other subcontractors on the field, as it allows them to perform their tasks more efficiently. They don’t want to miss a day or two just because they can’t reach the project manager or safety officer when needed or they don’t have instant access to the construction plans and drawings.

Fortunately, most construction sites already use advanced collaboration tools such as BIM models in construction team management. This allows subcontractors to view, compare, and mark up plans as necessitated by their role in the project. They can directly interact with the designers and builders through the BIM model, with the confidence that the data they are supplied with is up-to-date. All tasks, including ticket assignment and project reporting, can be done on any device.


By leveraging digital construction management software, construction teams can get ahead of issues before they arise and save time and resources in the process. Moreover, it allows for more efficient communication between teams and subcontractors and better oversight of project progress to ensure that deadlines are met. In short, digital construction management software provides the tools needed to make managing subcontractors easier and projects more successful. With these solutions in place, construction teams can increase their productivity, reduce costs, and ensure quality results.

In conclusion, digital construction management software is an invaluable solution for those involved in the construction industry. It enables teams to collaborate more effectively, streamline operations and manage subcontractors more efficiently. By utilizing these solutions, construction teams can save time and money while achieving better outcomes.

If you want to know how PlanRadar can help take the stress out of your subcontractor management, book a free PlanRadar product demo or contact us today.