The Future Is Now for Digital Project Management and Compliance Processes
By Sergey Sundukovskiy, Construction Executive
Despite the myriad construction management applications available for use by project superintendents, some companies have resisted streamlining processes via daily digital data collection.
User comfort levels is a factor, as is perceived high costs. That’s understandable given the slim margins in the construction industry, but the truth is contractors can’t afford not to upgrade their data collection techniques. Daily reporting and monitoring software can help firms cut costs, reduce the possibility of litigation and eliminate time-consuming travel from site to site.
Throughout the day, project managers and superintendents have plenty to contend with: foul weather, cost overruns, communication glitches, change orders and leadership challenges. Who wants to spend all day recording that with pen and paper? Daily digital reporting software can cover each of those potential pitfalls and eliminate reams of paperwork. In other words, it’s time to upgrade from the horse-and-buggy approach of manual paper and pen reporting to a top-of-the-line sports car of a daily reporting app.
APPS CAN LIMIT LIABILITY
Keeping in mind most superintendents spend at least an hour a day on paperwork, project management and daily reporting software is an easy fix for the data entry that eats up money and time. The four most desired functions of construction management and compliance software are cost estimating, takeoff measurement, accounting and project tracking.
The bricks-and-mortar world of construction and engineering has been slow to adopt the technological advances that drive change in other businesses. But construction management software is already a game-changer for the industry.
A 2014 Gartner IT Key Metrics Data report indicated the construction industry only spends 1 percent of revenue on information technology. A factor in this lack of investment is workforce inertia: Some workers have never used technology to augment their jobs, so why should they start now?
One reason is safety. The number of construction-related fatalities spiked 27 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to Fortune. That increase—fueled in part by the easing of the Great Recession—was in spite of an overall decline in on-the-job deaths between 2006 and 2015, and it highlights the continuing importance and challenges of workplace compliance and safety at construction sites.
Daily compliance and project management software can allow construction superintendents to take and upload photos documenting safety issues and violations on the jobsite. The images can be used to provide graphic reminders of the importance of jobsite safety and can serve as a valuable body of evidence when policing or terminating noncompliant workers.
Superintendents and foremen can note violations, close calls and whether safety briefings occur. Compliance software allows project managers, executives and company owners to tabulate infractions and stay on top of recurring issues or crews especially prone to violations.
Most software also allows superintendents to send and share real-time information about any incidents, risks or pending issues, such as potentially violent weather. Daily construction management and compliance software also can include automatic time stamping that reflects specific times, dates and locations; that data can be valuable should OSHA compliance issues ever arise.
LOSE THE CLIPBOARD
Most daily reporting and compliance software allow superintendents to walk jobsites free of the cumbersome clipboard, papers and pencils that have long been standard accessories for tracking progress on projects. If the site is short on materials or a manager wants more collaboration with a subcontractor, it can be noted on a tablet, phone or laptop. Project managers also have the ability to monitor and update multiple jobsites from their offices or their homes.
Additionally, daily construction and compliance software can provide an extra layer of protection from liability and litigation. It simplifies the process of managing daily reporting and centralizes the data in one easily searchable database. Project managers can view updates from the jobsite in real time. It can also provide important safety and delay notifications via text message and email.
The most innovative construction companies automate the documentation process with mobile technology. A digital trail can help a company defend itself if it ends up in court.
As for budgeting concerns, most mobile construction compliance and management software can pay for itself over time. At a company with 12 superintendents, it could cost more than $10,000 per month to take the time to fill out daily reports in spreadsheets and unstructured media. Mobile construction software could reduce the price tag twentyfold.
Drop the pencils and clipboards and stride with confidence into the future of construction management.