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The Smartest Tool in the Shed
By Chris Bachler
April 22, 2016
The past few years have seen significant improvements in construction project information mobility. Unfortunately, many firms are still reluctant to embrace these technological advancements. With smartphone and tablet usage continually increasing and becoming more ubiquitous every year, it's become incumbent upon construction firms to boost their mobility capabilities by optimizing the usage of these devices both in the office and on the job site. One way to boost mobility in a construction firm is to implement cloud-based construction software.
According to a recent report by McGraw Hill Construction, half of construction firms track their internal information flow, while only 1 in 5 track information flows outside the firm, such as at job sites or at client meetings. However, respondents in the same survey who utilized information tracking flows with mobility investments reported shorter schedules by 9%, project cost decreases by 10%, and project ROI increases of 2%.
McGraw Hill isn't the only one to notice the trend for construction firms to continue using antiquated systems. JBKnowledge released its 2015 Construction Technology Report, which showed that less than half of respondents considered mobile capabilities to be important, while almost a quarter stated this feature was not important at all. The number of construction firms that think it was not important actually increased by 1.9 percentage points over 2014's survey results, despite the growing importance of mobile capabilities.
Construction firms unwilling to adapt to the latest trends will find it difficult to streamline their operations and cut away the fat holding them back. Ultimately, those companies without mobile capabilities will lose out on any competitive edge over those that are more flexible and willing to implement the latest technological innovations.
With so many steps involved in every individual construction project, it's vital that firms do their best to trim the amount of time spent on these jobs. Without the proper safeguards and procedures in place to ensure workers complete a job within the appropriate time allotted, it can lead to significant delays. Furthermore, anytime a project extends past its deadline, it cuts into a firm's profit margins and can ultimately damage a company's reputation.
While delays are a common obstacle for construction projects, many times they can easily be avoided. However, when a delay absolutely cannot be sidestepped, having the ability to locate the cause and source can potentially alleviate the blame. Proving and defending a delay immediately requires real time, onsite access to the problem causing the delay. Construction firms that utilize a cloud-based construction project management software can easily track and manage any potential delay, providing project managers with the capability to immediately implement a delay analysis and initiate the appropriate field procedures, requiring the identification, isolation, and documenting of the factual data associated with the problem. Not only is this crucial in case of later legal actions, but by getting a head start on the delay, project managers can pinpoint the culprits.
Construction firms expanding operations into global destinations or those that are already firmly entrenched in international markets rely on mobility more so than purely domestic companies. While moving employees overseas and across borders boosts a company's scalability and diversifies the client base, there are supervisory issues associated with this undertaking.
Some of the obstacles associated with mobility for international construction firms involve appropriately managing talent, properly rewarding a job well done, cost effectiveness, and employee compliance issues. Without real time access to project information and data, construction firms lack the ability to instantaneously keep track of these issues and successfully manage an international workforce. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report on International Mobility in the engineering and construction industry, nearly every respondent cited mobility as critical to the success of their business.
The simple fact is that too many construction firms continue to rely on manual data entry, cumbersome single-point spreadsheets, or simply not transferring information between the office and the job site. However, this failure to implement a mobile project management platform is holding them back while other construction firms leave them in the dust.
Having a dedicated cloud-based construction platform reduces, and in some cases, eliminates, many of the problems associated with a lack of mobility for a firm. By implementing intuitive construction project management software, all relevant parties involved in a construction job gain real time access to every piece of information related to the particular undertaking.
By storing all the data in a single repository, field team members can look up project specifications from their mobile devices, all without having to travel back and forth between the office and the job site. The same goes for project managers who need to track change orders or RFIs. By providing this real time access to all team members, construction firms can position themselves for success.
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