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The American Institute of Stress reported that 80% of workers feel stress on the job. In the construction industry, that statistic can be even more pronounced. It’s up to them to meet tight deadlines, despite the odds, while hiring and managing subcontractors to get it all done on time, and ensuring the overall quality of the work being done, as well as worker’s safety. Who wouldn’t be stressed out?

What Causes Stress in Supply Chains?

Ordering materials can be the most stressful part of a construction professional’s life, from sourcing and arranging transport to dealing with late deliveries and broken materials. Adding to the complexity of a jobsite manager’s job, external climate conditions are always in flux, schedules change and, with all these moving parts, managing a site can become really stressful.

Use Flexible, Collaborative Planning Documents and Systems

To keep stress to a minimum, jobsite managers have to allow for the agile ebbs and flows of interdependent project management. Mistakes happen, but some take more time and definitely cause more headaches than others. Using planning documents and systems that have flexibility and collaboration built-in can seriously help.

Procore software covers a broad range of project management areas for commercial builders, but one that’s particularly helpful for supply chains is its tender management tool that streamlines tenders from multiple suppliers on multiple projects. One of Procore’s client’s explains how its team used Excel or paper to manage construction projects previously. "I'd be sitting there working on Excel and if I forgot to do step three or four, it could affect my budget by $100,000 … In an age when people can get a hold of you at a drop of a hat, it's easy to lose track of what you're doing. It was a big eye-opener." Sounds stressful!

Buildertrend operates a lot like Procore. Its suite offers supply-chain management features that can help contractors manage material estimate lists without manual calculations. Similarly, with the materials associated with projects, agile ordering and scheduling is much easier.

Plangrid is also used for better construction management, with data-sharing in real-time on one central platform that helps teams collaborate. When it comes to supply-chains though, Plangrid can help with everything from submittals to RFIs, streamlining more efficient and less stressful workflows for construction workers. Joeris General Contracting used Plangrid and the principles of Lean construction to manage a contract it had been awarded for a new school in Austin, Texas. The Assistant Project Manager, Callie, shared her experience and how Plangrid helped her manage lean material supply. “I’d pull up progress reports in the office and know what materials to order next and what job phase to be ready for,” she says. Without Plangrid, Callie would have had to go to the actual jobsite to find out which phase it was at and what materials to order.

There are obvious stress-reducing advantages to using systems such as Procore, Buildertrend and Plangrid. Without up-to-date, shared, digital records, project management and all parts of the supply chain have to be managed manually. Builders need to use a reliable system to reduce errors and create a focused work environment to reduce distractions.

Supply Chains Reimagined

“Centralized and simplified supply chains, agile delivery and the just-in-time arrival of materials are helping projects reduce inefficiency and the potential for waste onsite,” according to a recent blog post. The words simple and agile stand out. Builders should simplify their supply chains by reducing the number of suppliers they depend on for each project. Choose a supplier that can get everything in one order and deliver high-quality material on time. Most builders can't even imagine ordering all materials from one vendor and having them arrive as needed throughout the project

Here are a couple of bonus tips to help jobsite managers keep calm and build on.

  • Build a network of trusted and reliable sub-contractors.
  • Quality-control and inspection at every link in the supply chain is a must.
  • Appoint a dedicated crew member for quality assurance aspects of the supply chain, give them a bonus for every “X” number of projects without quality issues.
  • Be diligent, double-check, double-count and review work (and not at 9 p.m.!).
  • Always leave room for change in schedules and climate (and get a reliable weather app).
  • Leverage technology (there are many platforms available) for more accurate takeoffs.
  • Plan schedules wisely, including downtime for the crew to recharge.
  • Rethink holiday parties with a team-building exercise.

Builders shouldn’t wait for stress to get the best of them before exploring new technologies and suppliers. Finding solutions for supply-chain management now can greatly improve the life of any builder, given that the need to get materials to the jobsite isn’t going to go away.

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