People, Process, Technology: The Three-Legged Stool of WFM

Image of four construction workers in hardhats, safety glasses and neon safety vests consult a tablet on a worksite to manage their workforce.

Whether they realize it or not, most contractors are practicing workforce management (WFM) unknowingly and unequipped, often on a spreadsheet, whiteboard, home-grown system, or even on paper. This malpractice of workforce management has created an industry-wide gap. For WFM to be properly put into practice, it’s important to have the correct business management model in place. What’s the foundation for workforce management? The People, Process, Technology Framework (also known as PPT).

Leavitt’s Diamond Model shows a navy blue diamond labeled “Change” with four grey squares in a cross shape surrounding the diamond, labeled “Tasks,” “Structure,” “People,” and “Technology.” On the right, the Golden Triangle is made up of an orange side labeled “People”; a grey side labeled “Process” with a navy blue side labeled “technology” on the bottom of the triangle

People, Process, Technology: A Brief History

In 1964, Dr. Harold Leavitt, an American psychologist of management, developed a business management model 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." Sometimes referred to as a “three-legged stool," the people, process, technology model continues to be an important framework of effective organizational management to this day.

Graphic of People, with subtext, “Who should be involved”; Process, with subtext, “How it should be done” and Technology, with subtext, “Enable people, support process.” On the right is a graphic of a stool with the LaborChart nut symbol as the seat in orange, navy blue and grey. Each leg of the stool has the same colors, respectively.

The Three-Legged Stool

The People, Process, Technology 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 by understanding each leg and how they work together to support successful workforce management.

  • People - Who should be involved
    People are centric 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.

WFM PPT Framework: 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. Those legs are each important in their own right, but when interconnected, can supplement each other to create a symbiotic method of business management.

Kenneth Bonin, Director of Construction Operations at McCownGordon Construction says, “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.”

People are centric 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 WFM is absent. Labor managers are directly contributing to WFM 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.

Rick Morris, Owner of R2 Consulting says, “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.”

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.

Liz Hartmann, Vice President of Field Operations at W. Bradley Electric says, “Change has been tough, especially in construction. Everybody knows construction and construction was the last one to take on technological advances. When you have a software that takes that fear away it’s really, really easy to bring it into your company.”

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. Cloud-based workforce management is a great way for technology to enable your people and support your processes. 

The introduction and establishment of WFM technology in the construction industry indicates this WFM initiative 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 people, process, technology 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. 

Watch our latest workforce management videos.

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Director of Business Development
Brian Witt specializes in building the LaborChart community and oversees strategic initiatives with industry and technical partners. Prior to his current role, Brian was one of LaborChart’s first Account Executives and helped lead sales processes and new business growth for the organization. Brian’s operational background stems from his time as an Infantry Officer in the US Army. He is an alum of the Construction Science & Management Program at Kansas State University.

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