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By Erica Sweeney
June 5, 2017
In any industry, time is money. In construction, money is tied to budgets and costs, so the faster and more accurately job cost reports can be created, the better it is for a company’s bottom line.
Manually putting together a job cost report can usually take hours. But, the new generation of job costing solutions has made many aspects of our work better, faster, and stronger, and construction companies that have embraced a job costing software solution, like Conger Construction Group, are dramatically reducing the time they spend on these reports.
Not only does software make job costing less time consuming, it also keeps projects on budget because reports are more accurate. These efficiencies free up project managers and superintendents so that they can spend more time on the jobsite focusing on their traditional duties.
Best of all, software solutions can integrate data and connect accounting, project management, and operations teams, says Justin Conger, president of Conger Construction Group, a Lebanon, Ohio-based commercial construction group that focuses on the institutional market.
“It's working seamlessly. It’s how we communicate the information we have from a project management standpoint to accounting,” he says.
Conger says his company began automating most of its job costing tasks about two years ago, and the new approach has eliminated breakdowns in communication, increased efficiency, and reduced expenses. Having a solid company-wide job costing process has also helped the business expand.
“We were struggling to make sure everyone was doing the same thing the same way from job to job, from project manager to project manager,” he says. Because of his background in financial information management systems, Conger says he was dedicated to using technology to streamline business processes.
And, the rest of the company embraced it, he says. “Our entire organization has seen the value of it and how it makes their jobs easier.”
Job costing, in particular, used to be a days-long process of gathering data that was scattered in different programs, running multiple reports, sifting through spreadsheets, sending emails, making calls, and holding long meetings. Now, Conger says, it’s automatic.
With a job costing solution, the information is always up to date and connects operations and accounting. Changes can be made quickly in real time, so budgets and costs are always accurate––something that project owners appreciate, Conger explains. The company also gives project owners the ability to log into the system to see the budget.
“The budget updating dynamically has been fantastic,” he says. “Today’s society is about quicker, faster, better. Our clients want a job built faster. It’s the age of show me now. So, by gaining efficiencies without adding more headcount, it allows us to be agile. You have to be an agile business to continue to grow. What’s enabled us to grow is being agile and leveraging technologies and leveraging the efficiencies.”
Automation leads to accuracy. Conger says having everything linked together provides everyone on the team with a glimpse into the project and offers a better understanding of how a particular job is operating, as well as how things are trending. In turn, this helps avoid getting off schedule and cash flow issues.
The accuracy of costs and budgets keeps company leaders in the know about how a project is doing, and how the company itself is doing. This helps it position itself to win new business.
“It goes back to being agile,” Conger says. “If we're agile and able to make agile business decisions, we can go after a project more aggressively.”
The 25-year-old construction company has about 35 employees, and Conger says it’s growing weekly.
Tracking labor, materials, equipment, and all the other costs associated with a build results in a wealth of data. Data can be used to track the company’s capabilities and how quickly staff responds to change orders and other issues impacting budgets, he says.
This level of knowledge allows project managers and superintendents to make faster decisions. Because information is always current, Conger says it also gives project managers the autonomy to make important decisions, which drive efficiency and accuracy with each project.
The efficiencies and accuracies that technology provides frees project managers from the extensive and time-consuming job costing tasks. Conger says technology improves overall project management and promotes a company culture of accuracy and informed decision-making. It empowers project managers to be decision-makers and helps head off any issues on the jobsite, because they can better carry out their roles.
Because software streamlines the process, they can get back to the jobsite.
“They're back to being what a project manager and somebody in construction should be,” he says. “They can be out in the field seeing what's going on, interacting with the superintendents, interacting with the subcontractors, interacting with the owner—instead of being behind the desk for five or six hours a day banging through paperwork and being a desk jockey.”
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