Not that long ago, smartphones, tablets and mobile laptops did not exist. Technology has advanced so quickly that mobility has become a primary factor in a construction company’s ability to succeed in the highly competitive market.
Mix in the cloud with project management and document control software, and the result is an infrastructure that is revolutionizing an industry.
A company’s efficiency hinges on its capacity to get work done in the field, including filing reports and updating stakeholders on the build’s progress. Imagine how much time can be saved if employees never had to go back to the office to complete tasks. All files would be hosted on the secure cloud and accessible to all stakeholders at any jobsite using mobile devices. Mobility and cloud-based infrastructures help the best companies stay on top.
Potential benefits of cloud-based project management software include:
- improved handling of project-related info (e.g., change order requests, submittals, RFIs, etc.);
- decreased time required to create and approve reports;
- reduced time spent updating statuses or tracking down files;
- increased chance of winning bids;
- increased accuracy in cost and project delivery reporting;
- improved morale and productivity (e.g., jobsite employees not having to drive to the office); and
- increased accountability.
KEY POINTS TO SELECTING AND IMPLEMENTING SOFTWARE
There are several key points to consider when selecting and implementing cloud-based project management and document control software.
Create a Decision Team
First and foremost, include a cross-section of staff (users) to evaluate pending software purchases. Executives (risk mitigation masters) need to realize that any acquired solution, even for a small team, will require implementation and adoption, so it’s imperative to include staff in the evaluation process.
A majority of software implementations fail due before the software is even purchased because users are not involved in the decision process. Remember that the software will impact worker’s daily lives, so get them involved and excited about how this change effect (although different) will make it easier for them to do their jobs. Success hinges on this very approach.
Identify and develop a list the company’s pain points
What everyday activities are causing managers and the company the most pain? List these out by priority and order of importance. Decide which features are must-haves, nice-to-haves and future considerations.
Search for a tried and proven solution by a reputable vendor
There may be inconsistencies between how the team works and how the software wants the team to work. Technology also brings new workflows to improve performance, so make sure everyone understands how efficiencies can be achieved. Also, make sure the vendor has a proven, tested solution for similar customers in the construction industry.
Consider future company growth
Consider where the company will be in a year or two to make sure the software that will grow with the business and that the benefits outweigh the cost increases.
Require ease of use and designed for construction
Just because a software solution has an extensive list of features doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best choice. The solution the team selects needs to both solve the company’s pains and provide ease of use to all users. For example, field workers, project managers, executives, accountants, etc., deserve a platform that requires minimal training to get up and running. Make sure the software is designed by construction experts, not computer experts as with many software programs on the market.
Make sure multiple users see a demo of the software
Bring in as many end users as possible to review an in-depth product demo. Users need to get a feel for the software and can weigh in on its effectiveness. This also helps with obtaining early buy-in from the team.
Evaluate the solution’s support staff
There is no software that doesn’t have issues. Before major problems can occur, be sure qualified support staff that understand the construction business are available. Many vendors do not hire construction professionals in customer support, but the great companies require some experience within the industry.
Make decisions as a team
Key stakeholders have evaluated a lot of solutions, and they are probably starting to blend together. Ask the vendor for a list of references within the same construction niche before making a final decision.
Whenever implementing technology and a new infrastructure, justification for the purchase is significant. When it comes to justifying the implementation of a project management and document-control platform, the numbers can get tricky to calculate. However, it is still relatively simple to determine whether the company is benefiting from improving its project delivery processes. Several areas to measure success are:
- document more work, capture more billable time;
- decrease in non-strategic project acceptance;
- improved allocation of resources;
- increased budget and reporting accuracy;
- reduction on rework and cost overruns;
- reduction in project failure rate; and
- reduction in project delivery time
MOBILE TECHNOLOGY AND THE JOBSITE
Mobility on the jobsite can help instantly evaluate each day’s progress to help plan workflow. Using real-time communication, a company can reduce delays and help keep clients informed and happy. Additionally, mobile tech can help with recordkeeping. With a smartphone or tablet, field foremen can clock workers in and out and transmit data directly to the office.
Mobility also helps for cutting down equipment costs by logging hours in real time. In the unfortunate reality of equipment breakdown, mobile tech lets teams submit instant repair requests to get equipment back up and running quickly.
THE MOBILE OFFICE
The most mentioned benefit of mobile tech is the ability to work anywhere. With cloud-based software, managers can check progress, schedule and costs from virtually anywhere. Using a mobile and cloud-based construction software can help to streamline RFIs, submittal, change order and field notes processes. All activities, including communications, are tracked and accessible within the project. This enables managers, workers and subcontractors to virtually interact and work together to discuss issues, ask questions and find real-time solutions. Also, time cards and other documents can be sent to the accounting department using a mobile app as part of process improvements. With real-time reporting, managers can keep a close eye on project finances and make necessary changes at any time.
When dealing with a workforce that is constantly in motion, mobile and cloud construction technology are necessary to keep construction projects running smoothly and efficiently. There are many ways that mobile technology is expanding. It is the contractor’s job to be aware of these changes and determine which technology innovations are best for the company.