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Survival Guide for General Contractors at Large Construction Firms


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As the point person for a client, the main wranglers of subcontractors and the supervisor for a project, general contractors at large construction firms have considerable responsibilities that impact the full range of operations at a company. With so many loose ends that need to be tied up on a regular basis, general contractors must do whatever they can to truly help their large construction firms grow even larger.

According to the 2015 Kroll Global Fraud Report, a staggering 75 percent of construction, engineering, and infrastructure companies were hit with some sort of fraud issue in the past year.

Financing the Right Equipment

General contractors at large construction firms must deal with ensuring that a project has the right kind of equipment for the job. While some companies might purchase their own equipment, others have found that leasing equipment helps their firm cut overhead costs, stay up to date on the latest technology, and boost profit margins.

According to Deere, the top problems for companies attempting to finance equipment stem from poor credit history for a construction firm, lackluster profit margins, mismanaging growth, and a lack of transparency. By recognizing the top challenges and positioning the construction firm in a place to avoid these pitfalls, general contractors at large firms can create the growth necessary to truly capture and retain their market share.

Dealing With Fraud

Since a general contractor is responsible for the overall coordination of a project, usually this individual is also the first line of defense against any potential fraud or illegal activities. Unfortunately, though, fraud is an issue that plagues construction companies of all sizes.

According to the 2015 Kroll Global Fraud Report, a staggering 75 percent of construction, engineering, and infrastructure companies were hit with some sort of fraud issue in the past year. The report discovered 36 percent of firms experienced theft of physical assets, 24 percent suffered vendor, supplier, or procurement fraud, 18 percent had a regulatory or compliance breach, and 11 percent faced corruption and bribery problems.

Not only is an overwhelming majority of construction companies suffering from fraud, but 92 percent of construction companies said they experienced significantly more fraud than they did last year. This represents the greatest increase in respondents citing a rise in fraud amongst any of the sectors surveyed.

Labor Shortages

No discussion of the current state of the construction industry would be complete without touching on the dearth of skilled labor in the sector. While construction industry experts have been lamenting over the lack of qualified workers for a while, many analysts thought it was merely a knee-jerk reaction to the glut of cheap labor created by the Great Recession starting to shift to a higher cost expenditure. However, with home construction dipping 11 percent last October, analysts are starting to realize that construction firms are struggling to find the necessary workers to fill gaps in their labor force. Large construction firms will mostly feel the brunt of this shortage much more acutely than smaller firms, since bigger companies have many more positions to fill.

Overcoming Defects

Building any type of edifice requires careful attention to detail to ensure the finished project does not contain any defects or shoddy craftsmanship. This is especially pertinent for general contractors at large firms who are tasked with overseeing the construction of major projects. The larger the job, the more chances there are for something to potentially go wrong. Whether it's due to a deficiency in design, material, construction or operations, and maintenance, it falls on general contractors to step in, delegate the tasks and, ultimately, take responsibility for any defects in the final product.

One of the best ways to overcome problems of this nature involves implementing a cloud-based construction software solution. Using software like this allows every member of the construction project to upload all pertinent data, communications, messages, and pictures all to a single repository. With real time access to all of this crucial information, general contractors can track the project's development as well as check on the delegation of all tasks and ensure all RFIs and punch list items have been completed to a high level of quality.

A cloud-based construction project management solution handles all of these tasks and more. General contractors at large construction firms can use the software to integrate with financial tools that manage cost controls and equipment financing, keep track of orders and invoices to reduce fraud, and review all tasks and delegations to ensure there are no glaring defects in the projects.

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