Why Managing Construction Subcontractors is So Important
March 01, 2022
If you manage craftspeople, you know it requires a skill set that’s different from what you’d use for managing processes or projects. Similarly, managing construction subcontractors requires its own approach. Why? Because the outcome directly affects the success of your project. And while there are plenty of how-to guides and tips on overseeing subcontractors, it’s the “why” of it all that can still get overlooked.
You strengthen your reputation
There’s no way for your client to distinguish the work done by your construction company versus what was performed by the construction subcontractors you hired. To them, it’s all you. They just care that it’s done well and meets their requirements. Therefore, everyone’s effort is a reflection of you and your company. And it’s not just the quality of the workmanship behind the drywall subcontractors hang, the plaster they apply, or the HVAC system they install.
It’s also the things you don’t see when you walk through the structure at the end of the day: their work ethic, reliability, pride in what they produce, on-time task completion, and ability to get along with others on the jobsite. In other words, it means you’re responsible not only for the work produced, but for everything that takes place during construction. As a contractor, it’s up to you to ensure everyone has what they need to do their jobs successfully — open communication channels, access to the information they need to do their jobs, and the schedules and expectations they’re expected to adhere to.
You benefit from a strong contractor-subcontractor relationship
Construction subcontractors help you carry out a successful project; the project and your business depend on it. And like any relationship, it relies on open communication. That means seeing how things are going for them, what issues they might be encountering, and if they need any job support. Establishing two-way communication channels via cloud-based construction software invites construction subcontractors’ questions and feedback. It also helps you keep them in the loop on project changes as well as updates to the structure’s design, new jobsite safety protocols, schedules, compliance issues, and work that has to be fixed. The more everyone knows, the fewer misunderstandings there will be that could lead to unintended work mistakes and eventual change orders. This all may seem rather simple and obvious, but it demonstrates to construction subcontractors that you want to help them succeed. And when they succeed, so do you.
You reduce the risk of losing good construction subcontractors
The collaborative contractor-subcontractor relationship could very well be one of the biggest factors that helps you hang on to your subcontractors. When the relationship is built on communication, trust and respect, they’re far less likely to bail in the middle of a project or not care about the quality of their work. And during the ongoing skilled labor shortage, that matters. With competition high for available subs, your construction subcontractor management approach becomes more like a valuable retention strategy. Because the last thing you need is having your project progress put in jeopardy.
You gain greater control over project outcomes
Can you imagine what would happen if you didn’t have an effective subcontractor management plan in place? It would make it nearly impossible for construction subcontractors to do their job. Without knowing what the expectations were and how their progress would be measured, there would be no consistency in quality standards (and therefore, more rework), no work process, no information about how to do their job, and the project would be at risk of lagging far behind schedule. This goes back to the role of communication in the contractor-subcontractor relationship: to share with them everything they need to do their job well. Because that kind of productive relationship is what will make the project go more smoothly and efficiently.
You ensure compliance with protocols and requirements
Risk management and quality control are key responsibilities in your role as a contractor. And at the heart of that is recognizing how critical all construction subcontractors are in helping mitigate the risks of poor work and unsafe practices. Lack of adherence to standard protocols and requirements can result in more than the obvious risk of physical injury or structural damage. It can culminate in unnecessary rework that can threaten the completion date. And continuing the domino effect, if that happens, the consequences can be financially costly: the owner can invoke a liquidated damages claim and may also withhold contract retention payments.
You protect everyone in case of a dispute
When it comes to project details, documentation is your friend for everything — contracts, daily reports, timesheets, confirmation of information received, safety protocols, schedules and beyond. Putting things in writing sets expectations so there are no assumptions, misunderstandings or awkward conversations down the road, including unresolvable “you said/they said” issues. And it ensures you get what is needed from construction subcontractors at the level of quality you and the client expect. After all, you’ve taken care to establish a solid relationship with your subcontractors; documentation can help protect it.
All in all, you’re doing more than just overseeing construction subcontractors. You’re cultivating working relationships that are critical to the success of your capital project outcomes. And with that comes managing the substantial project documents they’ll reference and interact with. InEight cloud-based documentation management provides a single source of truth where everything can be housed for easy access easily from virtually anywhere. Your projects may be complex, but your construction subcontractor document management doesn’t have to be. When you’re ready, request a demo to see how it can work for you.