Subcontractors are a valuable asset in construction projects. They provide necessary specialised skill sets and industry knowledge. However, there are many things to consider when hiring a subcontractor, from individual contracts and payments to non-disclosure agreements. As a project manager, you must also ensure that you are fulfilling health and safety obligations to your employees. As a result, having a clear subcontractor management strategy is vital. Using subcontractor management software streamlines recruitment and project execution, making sure all parties have access to the necessary documents, whilst also protecting sensitive data.
When you’re working with contractors who are not part of your network, communication can be an issue. Everyone has a different way of working, so you will need to make an effort in order to collaborate effectively. As the employer, you must communicate your expectations whilst ensuring you can offer appropriate support as needed. You can’t schedule team meetings every time a question comes up. As the focal point for a number of contractors, you can also easily be overwhelmed by calls or emails. Making use of messaging platforms and task alerts can make communication easier. Subcontractor management software also allows other members of the team to see what has already been discussed and stay up to date with developments.
If you’re working with multiple subcontractors at once, it can be difficult to organise tasks and monitor the progress of your project. One of the biggest issues with using subcontractors is the project timeline. If one task is behind schedule, there is a ‘knock-on’ effect for all the others, which quickly becomes complicated if there are multiple parties involved with each aspect of the project. Subcontractor management software allows users to distribute tasks, view project timelines and create reminders so that each player is held accountable for delivering their part.
Scaling up the problem: Megaprojects
For small and medium-scale projects, subcontractor chains are often small. The site managers take overall charge of the project and hire subcontractors for specialized support or to increase the taskforce. However, scaling up to megaprojects means that the chain of command becomes convoluted, increasing the risk of poor communication and project errors. If the main contractor hires a subcontractor, they have to take into account the responsibilities of outsourcing tasks to other parties. If that subcontractor then hires another subcontractor, there are three hiring tiers. Depending on the scale of the project, this can easily escalate to five or six tiers, which compounds the problems associated with hiring subcontractors. Who reports to who? Which manager is responsible for distributing which tasks? Who is properly qualified for a particular task?
On top of all these questions, contractual liabilities can occur as the subcontractor chain develops. This can put the site manager at risk of penalties, even if they aren’t aware of the sixth tier subcontractors. Hiring multiple tiers of subcontractors is necessary for megaprojects, but it is essential that someone with experience in contractor management is on hand to coordinate and lead the entire team. The bigger the project, the greater the need for subcontractor management software. By digitising the paperwork, you can save back-ups and share files easily, as well as accessing information from anywhere. If everyone is working with the same software system, it becomes much simpler to keep track of day to day tasks. It is also easier to monitor who is on-site at any one time.
How can subcontractor management software help site managers?
Subcontractor management software provides a centralised platform to streamline all the tasks and paperwork associated with construction projects. Popular features of subcontractor management software include:
- Task distribution – keep track of who is responsible for specific tasks and deadlines
- Document management – save reports, or share safety documents and any other relevant files with everyone on site
- Communication platform – share questions, photographs or voice memos in real-time in order to identify and deal with issues efficiently
- Site management – construction workers sign themselves in and out of the building site so that the general manager can monitor who is present and which tasks are completed
- Data exporting – create reports and track the progress of your project, as well as managing your budget
- Offline access – independence from internet access means that you can actively manage staff while on-site
How can subcontractor management software help subcontractors?
Subcontractor management software is also extremely valuable to subcontractors themselves, primarily by providing clarity. Having access to a centralised platform means that they have proof of their interactions with the employer. Subcontractors can register for a free profile so that they can use it for managing their tasks and communication with site managers. They can also upload images of completed tasks, providing evidence that they finished to the required standard and requesting sign-off. Crucially, this complete audit trail of the subcontractor’s work proves they completed everything on time and that a site manager signed off their work. They can then submit this information alongside invoices so that they can avoid delayed payments.
What can PlanRadar offer you?
PlanRadar provides users with free, unlimited subcontractor accounts, so it’s easy for in-house users to manage their contractors. In-house users can also access statistics about their subcontractors so that they can monitor productivity in real-time. A manager can therefore spot potential issues and take action before the construction timeline is impacted. PlanRadar makes it simple to track deadlines, extensions and completed tasks. Users can run reports for a specific subcontractor, or a set of subcontractors, to have a complete record of their work and any communication via the app.