The formality of hiring contractors to outsource work is familiar ground for many businesses and plays an important role in managing workloads. So having a fully functioning contractor management system that focuses on efficiency and reliability is vital. It also helps with business scalability.
Using technology in our everyday lives comes second nature to many of us. It’s rare you’ll go out for business or pleasure and not come across some form of automated technology system. It’s used in restaurants, online shopping and even public restrooms. One of the technology solutions for managing what can be a chaotic process is contractor management software. Some of the key features of a contractor management process include an improved job management workflow, more time-saved, increased efficiency and better visibility over who has the right skills for the job. So looking at adopting contractor management software for your business is a no-brainer, right?
The Importance of Effective Contractor Management
Contractors, to a degree, require less instruction than regular employees. However, learning how to manage them is still a worthwhile task and it should be treated as an entirely different ball game than managing direct employees. As contractors manage their own days to some degree, it’s important to set boundaries and expectations early on so there’s no miscommunication or confusion.
For example, making it clear what is expected of them when representing your business on-site is a good start. That is anything from the scope of work involved, their responsibilities on the project, timelines given to the customer about when the work will be completed as well as any protocols on-site that might be important to follow. As an employer, you need to ensure they have everything necessary for them to complete the work as agreed.
If expectations are not set between the customer and contractor at the start, it can cause issues later on in their relationship. And in turn, affect your business's reputation and bottom line. For example, if the customer requests work to be redone, it can cause delays in the job's completion and further expenses. This is something that can be avoided with solid contractor management by recognizing issues before it’s too late and addressing them early.
It’s very likely you’ll be hiring contractors on more than a one-off basis. So maintain a good working relationship even once jobs are complete. It helps you when you need to call upon any contractor services again.
The main responsibilities of contractor management lie in having great communication and effective organizational skills. As the employer, you’re in charge of managing any documentation regarding a job’s completion, following up with anything that may be missing and ensuring contractor-submitted invoices are processed on time. It’s also important to know which contractor is working on which job. This is where sticking to manual processes gets a little sticky. A contractor management platform and contractor management software can shrink the amount of time it takes to organize your contractors, since you’re not relying on shuffling through a mountain of spreadsheets.
The Benefits of Implementing a Contractor Management System
Contractor management solutions through software will benefit your business in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the benefits you’ll see when adopting a technology-based contractor management system:
Streamlined organization. Traditional paper-based methods restrict how efficient you can be with your time, as you’re spending a lot of it rifling through various spreadsheets. With contractor software, you will trim down the time taken to find specific information about your contractors. It’s all at your fingertips!
Efficient cost management. Having complete visibility around job costs, time cards and, specifically, contractors at any stage of a project enables you to make more informed business decisions. This, in turn, will make it easier to manage costs around contractors.
Intelligent business reporting. Run reports to gain insights into different aspects of your contractor's work, as well as setting up regularly scheduled reports that run weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly. This enables you to monitor the progress of jobs at different stages and adjust anything as necessary.
What Makes a Good Contractor Management System?
When you’re shopping around for contractor management software, there are a lot of software features that contractor management systems will share. Let’s take a look at some of the features you want to look out for:
- Project management capabilities - Good subcontractor management software offers you a platform to look at an overview of all of your jobs. This can be anything from the initial deployment of contractors, to managing them on-site. You can then keep a track of who is where, deadlines and dependencies.
- Contractor directory - Having a full list of contractors available in one central location so you can easily see who’s available is a must. It allows you to schedule faster and with more autonomy. It’s also a great way of comparing individual skill sets for specific jobs.
- Time tracking and invoicing - Contractor work involves raising work orders and invoices. Having the ability to do this from one platform helps streamline processes. Once an invoice has been raised, it can be passed onto the accounts team through the software so that all of the relevant departments can view what is necessary. In addition, time tracking capabilities so you can see how long they spent on a job is a must.
- Payment portals - Having a portal which your contractors can access to view their jobs and upload invoices is a fantastic addition. It means the office staff don’t have to wait for information regarding a job, customers are getting invoices on time and payments are reaching the business faster.
- Mobile compatibility - Having the ability to access a contractor management platform while out on the field is incredibly beneficial. For your contractors, it means they’re able to send information back to the office instantly with their mobile device. For example, any job updates or changes that need to be outlined can be communicated so all relevant parties are informed.
4 Signs You Need Contractor Management Software
There are a few signs you can look out for, letting you know your business is ready for an upgrade to subcontractor management software. Let’s take a look at what they are and some of the sticking points.
- Workload has increased. Your business can grow at any point, and with that comes an influx of work. When you receive a huge amount of business inquiries from customers wanting your services, it can be overwhelming to manage all of your contractors. Especially with paper-based methods. If you’re finding it all a huge headache, then looking into contractor management systems is a wise choice.
- Processes are slow or disjointed. Whether you’re a small or large business, managing processes around your contractors has to feel fluid. This ensures everyone understands what is expected of them and any confusion is avoided. However, if you’re overseeing this as a one-man band, it can take a lot of hours of administration. The last thing you want is construction projects left incomplete, and this can often be the case if time management and processes around your contractors are not smoothed out.
- Certification requirements are difficult to track. As your business grows and new contractor connections build, you’ll quickly have a huge amount of job requirements and certifications to keep track of. It might be that your current process involves spreadsheets and never-ending rows of data. Not only is that process prone to human error, but it’s also very time-consuming. It also means any data has to be updated manually, with no easy solution to integrate updates as they happen.
- Visibility over operations is murky. The way you handle contractor management will play a huge part in how successful you are with getting repeat business and solidifying contractor relationships. So it’s important to have a good grasp on how operations are running internally and that it is a smooth process. That can be anything from contractors’ personal data, certifications, health and safety and job management. When operating with manual methods, it’s not always immediately clear what is and isn’t working. So if you’re finding it hard to keep a consistent and fully engaged view of the working cogs within your business, think about digitizing operations with a contractor management platform.
Managing your contractors is an important component of the business. Adopting subcontractor management software will help streamline operations, maximize efficiency and increase visibility over business operations. Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Field Service Management for further tips and tricks on maximizing efficiencies with technology.