As the construction industry digitizes, the tools have moved from the desktop to the field and are now forecasting the future.
Bridgit co-founder and CEO Mallorie Brodie said when the company put out Bridgit Field as its first product there was already a move towards digitization but it focused on the office rather than the worksite.
“What we were seeing was there was software in the industry but a lot of it wasn’t mobile-first. The team on the jobsite might be given software to use but they had to be sitting down at the trailer to enter information. It wasn’t the full value they could be getting from software if it was a mobile app,” she said.
Other construction platforms have since emerged along with mobile offerings, she added, so Bridgit went to its customers to ask what other challenges should be addressed.
“Through those customers we learned that resource and workforce planning was something that was a very manual process. For the team in the office to have to figure out what’s the utilization rate of the workforce, which project manager or site super are going to which project at what time, so they have the best skill set for the job, what’s their experience level…that was all being tracked in Excel,” Brodie said.
Fixing workforce management was the impetus for Bridgit Bench. The company’s second product launched last year and “we’re the very first to take on workforce management in the construction industry,” she added.
While other offerings from established companies have emerged to compete with Bridgit’s products, Brodie said the industry has evolved to work in a more integrated fashion.
“Technology moves so quickly and construction tech is a really interesting place to be in, because I think it’s really evolved in terms of the way partnerships work in the industry. Initially everyone was working in silos at different companies. We’ve all realized that we can bring the industry along so much faster if we’re forming partnerships,” she said.
“Ultimately, it’s better if we can all focus on certain areas and be the absolute best and really deliver on a great customer experience for the products we offer. It’s OK for other companies to do some things that you don’t do and try to eliminate the overlap.”
Bridgit Bench is adaptable to both smaller and larger companies and the biggest difference is the “pain point” a specific company is trying to solve, Brodie said.
“Often 30-person companies are owner operated. It’s a business owner wearing five different hats and they have to be jumping around to different meetings and priorities. They have to make themselves as efficient as possible and if we can make their workforce more efficient that buys them back hours in a day,” she said.
Larger companies are more interested in gathering key performance indicators across their workforce since there are so many employees to track.
“So they’re more interested in the reporting functionality and the analytics within our product as opposed to just time savings,” she added.
A new forecasting module will also allow firms to use resource management to better predict if it makes sense for them to take on more projects or to decide if more hires are needed.
“Rather than spending hours in their spreadsheets or putting together visualizations that are easy for their team to understand, we do that all for them at once which allows them to plan six, 12 and 18 months into the future,” Brodie said.
One of the keys to running a startup is addressing possible downturns in the economy, and while no-one could predict the COVID-19 pandemic, Brodie said what they predicted in terms of how companies would use their product during leaner times has essentially come true.
“People are the most expensive thing for a construction company. You want to make sure you’re being as efficient as possible when planning your resources, when there’s maybe not as many projects and you need to operate in a very lean way as a business,” she said.
“We feel like our product provides those metrics and forecasting ability, so our customers feel confident in understanding what their workforce needs to be to get through the very dynamic planning process that they’re all in right now. They’re needing to be agile. Having the metrics to support that is incredibly valuable for them whether the industry is booming or they have to downsize their teams.”
To listen to Digital Media Editor Warren Frey’s interview with Bridgit CEO Mallorie Brodie check out the Friday, July 10 episode of The Construction Record podcast.