People, Process, Technology: The Three-Legged Stool of Workforce Management

For workforce management to be properly put into practice, it’s important to have the correct business management model in place.

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Whether they realize it or not, most construction contractors are practicing workforce management unknowingly and unequipped, often on a spreadsheet, whiteboard, home-grown system or even on paper. This misapplication of workforce management has created an industry-wide gap.

For workforce management to be properly put into practice, it’s important to have the correct business management model in place. What’s the foundation? The People, Process, Technology Framework (also known as PPT).

History Behind PPT

In 1964, Dr. Harold Leavitt, an American psychologist of management, developed a business management model originally called Leavitt’s Diamond Model. This was made up of four aspects: people, tasks, structure and technology.

Over time, Leavitt’s Diamond was reimagined into people, process and technology (PPT), often as a Venn diagram or “golden” triangle that combined tasks and structure into process. In the 1990s, a security technologist named Bruce Schneier championed PPT, turning it into a business practice “near mantra” that continues to be an important framework of effective organizational management to this day.

The PPT model can be thought of as a “three-legged stool.” If one leg is taller, shorter or nonexistent, the entire stool will tip over. Thus, it’s crucial for each leg’s function to be robust and well executed. This starts with understanding each leg and how they all work together to support successful workforce management.

  • People - Who should be involved: People are central to business and construction operations. Without people, nothing gets accomplished.
  • Process - How it should be done: Standardized processes create predictability and efficiency. Progress is obstructed without process.
  • Technology - Enable people, support process: The tool must fit the task. Technology should simplify processes and amplify effectiveness.

The Recipe for Success

It’s critical to utilize all aspects of the three-legged stool in order to be successful in the implementation of workforce management. The three legs are each important in their own right, but when interconnected, can supplement each other to create a symbiotic method of business management. When people are supported, processes put in place and key technology implemented, a business can truly reach its potential.

Leg #1: People

Kenneth Bonin, director of construction operations at McCownGordon Construction, values workforce management in his organization. “No doubt, a tool like LaborChart helps us meet our client needs because we’re people, and at the end of the day, it takes people to operate and run buildings and generate that client experience that we give,” he stated.

People are central to the business and are the ones moving from one project to the next. The cost of these assets and their movement is still the greatest unknown on projects when workforce management is absent.

Labor managers are directly contributing to workforce management and see the positive impacts it creates. But the benefits help shape the entire organization from the top down, creating responsibility, accountability and feasibility across the board. Everyone, from field resources to office staff to CEO, can find value in workforce management at their organization.

Leg #2: Process

Process is another crucial factor. Combining structure and tasks from Leavitt’s Diamond model, process creates predictability and rhythm within an organization. Workforce management means those processes can be recorded and shared by all necessary personnel.

When processes are standardized, the right way is identified, making improvement feasible and success predictable.

Leg #3: Technology

Technology can make or break your organization. Without it, people become exhausted and processes are inefficient or nonexistent. With the correct technology, your people will be equipped to streamline processes without being overwhelmed.

“What most companies don’t do when they implement a new technology is look at processes that could go away. In order to create a new process, we need to find two processes that can go away,” said Rick Morris, owner of R2 Consulting.

Cloud-based workforce management is a great way for technology to enable your people and support your processes. “Change has been tough, especially in construction. Everybody knows construction and construction was the last one to take on technological advances,” noted Liz Hartmann, VP of Field Operations at W. Bradley Electric. “When you have a software that takes that fear away it’s really, really easy to bring into your company.”

The introduction and establishment of workforce management technology in the construction industry indicates that it is now feasible. The situation across the industry, from labor shortages to succession planning and beyond, spotlights the need to adopt this practice now.

Bringing a PPT approach to workforce management can take you from fragmented and reactionary to consolidated and aligned. Discover how to bridge the workforce management gap today with people, process and technology.