24 August 2021 5 min read

Managing Subconstructors in Construction:

How Digital Solutions Help


How to ensure a good partnership with your subcontractors and, at the same time, make sure that they execute their work correctly? Check out our tips for managing subcontractors and learn how you can streamline the whole process from the very start!

Do you use external services to perform your construction projects? Giving a part of your processes to an external person or company can be beneficial and sometimes even necessary to successfully finish a project. However, like every other construction process, managing subcontractors can be a challenge. So, let's take a look today at the key rules for good subcontractors management!

What is Subcontractor Management?

Subcontractor Management means managing an external person or company to perform a specific part of a construction project agreed upon earlier in an appropriate contract. The processes that we can count into the subcontractor management are:

  • Identifying the general contractor's needs

  • Finding the most qualified subcontractor and leading to the signing of a contract

  • Controlling the status of work in progress and assuring regular communication during the execution

  • Taking care of the post-work aspects like payments, invoices etc.

These are only general categories, but you can find many different activities that general contractors must take care of inside each category. However, instead of listing them all here, let's focus on more important aspects, namely How to manage subcontractors properly?

Tips for Successful Subcontractors Management

  • 01

    Plan ahead
    This point should not come as a surprise. We have already highlighted the importance of a proper project schedule many times in our previous articles. Planning gives you control over your project. You do not have to stress out if all materials are already on-site, if the specific worker is available or if any delays may impact the delivery date.

    Except for internal preparations, it would be good to involve your subcontractors in the planning processes. With their help, you should reconsider:

    • the dates of delivery of deliverables (based on your main schedule)

    • material procurement and delivery

    • safety precautions and training sessions (if needed)

    • other factors that might affect your project’s finish date and your subcontractor’s work

    One last thing! As you can see, there are many different aspects that you need to put together to make your project successful. That is why, you should try to start as early as possible to have enough time for each process. On the other hand, remember to be flexible. Nothing is worse than sticking to the outdated schedule when the project conditions changed utterly.

  • 02

    Set expectations before
    It is crucial to set exactly what you need before the project starts, even if you trust your subcontractor and their high-quality service. There is always a risk that you might have different views and ideas about the final outcome.

    What should be clarified before the work starts? Consider the following aspects:

    • responsibilities of both sides

    • the final result and smaller deliverables that the subcontractor must deliver

    • the schedule with specific dates of project parts

    • crucial elements like time, money and quality of completed work

    As you can see, you should establish many aspects before the work starts. Especially as the regulations secure both you and your subcontractors, and save time in case of any misunderstandings. And as you know, time is money!

  • 03

    Prepare and store proper documentation
    When you negotiate a contract or discuss the details of the project, remember to have final decisions on paper. Sometimes, during the execution of a project, it is easy to forget about some minor details that later will have a crucial impact on your project's success. That is why to protect your company and assure a good relationship with your subcontractor, you should take care of proper documentation.

    Also, after the project is finished, you should store all necessary documents. There are two reasons for that. Firstly, these documents will be an excellent source of information about costs, time and other factors that need to be estimated before new investments start. The second reason is that you have all decisions on paper in case of miscommunication, which will speed up clearing a situation.

  • 04

    Establish clear rules of communication
    Did you know that even up to 56% of projects fail due to poor communication? Such a significant number clearly shows how crucial proper internal and external communication is for project success. Before the work starts, decide with your subcontractor:

    • What channel you will use to communicate (phone, mail, messaging app)

    • How often you will communicate updates (daily, weekly, monthly)

    • Who from your team will be responsible for contacting your subcontractors

    Also, if the project is complex, consider setting up a recurring meeting, where you will be able to ask more detailed questions. This might also help your subcontractors as they will have a chance to make sure the project goes according to your needs. Remember! During the meeting, make notes summarising raised topics and crucial decisions (signed up by both sides). It is always better to have a document in case of misunderstandings rather than setting up another meeting!

  • 05

    Treat your subcontractors with respect
    The deadline is getting closer. Not so much money left in the budget. The material delivery is not taking place until next week. The ambience is tense. In such situations, misunderstandings and conflicts are more prone to happen. Of course, you can reduce the risk of having such cases with adequately planned work. However, any project has unpredictable aspects. When a risk occurs, remember to treat your subcontractors like partners, and not like someone who is guilty of all the fuss.

    Treating your subcontractors with respect means

    • communicating often

    • organising needed training

    • providing appropriate safety measures

    • paying on time

    • giving honest feedback that will enable them to work better

  • 06

    Support your processes with construction management software
    Managing subcontractors on site (but not only there) is a challenge. You have to keep an eye on time, quality, money, provide materials, establish good communication and react fast if any of these aspects change. It can be overwhelming, especially when you are using traditional management tools and methods.

    That is why you should consider investing in a project management platform that helps you monitor and manage construction projects. Such software can help you store all construction data in one place and have a constant view of your project’s progress, budget, costs and all other crucial factors. But how exactly can such software support managing subcontractors in construction? Let's have a look!

Support Your Subcontractor Management

As we wrote above, digital solutions, like project management software can significantly help your company. On top of the general benefits like a clear view of your budget, costs and work progress, such a platform can help you manage your subcontractors better.

For example, you can create a database with all subcontractors, their work history, completed projects and contact details in the software. Thanks to that, when a similar project starts in the future, you can easily find a specific specialist. Also, you can better control your cash flows seeing clearly how much you still owe to your subcontractors. For sure, we do not have to highlight how timely payments are crucial for a good partnership! Lastly, you can store all documents inside the software, and provided it’s cloud-based, you can have access to it anytime from any device!

Learn more!

From the Subcontractor’s Side

Are you a subcontractor? Or maybe, you are on both sides, managing projects on your own and providing external services for more prominent companies? Well, in any case, the list above is beneficial also for you! Let's look at it from the subcontractor’s perspective, highlighting the most critical points:

  1. Make sure that all the agreements are inside the contract with all the specifications.

  2. Store the documents in case of any miscommunication after the handover process.

  3. Treat your customer with respect, providing the best service possible.

  4. Ask if there is anything unclear in the contract.

  5. Benefit from the solutions of construction management software.

If you are looking for a piece focusing more on the subcontractor’s perspective, check out our article here!

Key takeaways

Managing subcontractors in the construction industry can be an outstanding possibility to execute projects faster and better. To do it right, plan a schedule, your expectations, and how you are going to communicate with the subcontractor before the work commences. Also, keep the documentation with all the decisions and requirements to ensure your project is executed exactly the way you want. Your subcontractor is your partner, so treat them with respect but, at the same time, control their work and provide appropriate feedback. Having all this in mind, you can establish a good partnership with your subcontractors and execute projects better from the very start.

Last but not least, if you feel like you need support in your project management processes, check out our solutions! Schedule a call to learn all about digital tools for better construction management (and, of course, subcontractors management). Proper project delivery is something we know best, so let us support you!

Schedule a meeting!

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2024-06-18 06:54:38