You’re right on-track with the latest technology when you’re designing plans and bidding for contracts, so your day-to-day processes should be no different.
Deloitte’s 2019 Engineering and Construction Industry Outlook highlights the importance of adopting game-changing technology that can give your construction company the edge it needs to achieve and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage.
If these 5 issues are negatively impacting your team and your day-to-day business processes, then it’s time to take a wrecking ball to your current workflows!
- No Digital Infrastructure
It’s no secret that the construction industry’s digital revolution is well underway. Far from being a fleeting fad, digitization has been widely recognized as the #1 game-changing factor in the construction industry for 2019, and it’s not about to slow down anytime soon.
The Construction Institute estimates that implementing proven technology can improve productivity by 30-45%, and it can also improve material predictability and reliability.
Everyone loves those surprise inspections and annual external audits, right? Imagine being able to hand over a tablet with all of the information quickly at your fingertips, instead of sending inspectors into a room full of files, folders and dust. Not only can you save them from drowning in paperwork, but you can also present your company as being forward-thinking, organized and more efficient overall.
Furthermore, all of your regulatory documents (e.g. safety reports and licenses), should have a digital backup in case of damage or loss. Your team should also be able to access documents that are relevant to their work without having to sort through reams of paperwork or heavy binders. Think of the cost-per-hour of one of your workers; do you really want them to waste valuable time doing unnecessary paperwork?
Investing in technology is also a great way to attract skilled workers in a highly competitive recruitment market where they are in short supply. Once your team has been assembled, workflow management software can be used to optimize their workflows can help to increase productivity -- negating the cost of rising tariffs and reducing the risk of delays or mistakes caused by human error.
- Poor Communication
Poor communication doesn’t just impact your team - your clients and suppliers also suffer if communication across your company isn’t efficient. This especially applies to companies with field teams who need to liaise with the office. With so many options for improving channels of communication, it’s simply not acceptable to allow these inefficiencies to continue.
A properly optimized workflow should communicate a clear set of instructions for everyone to follow. When everyone has an understanding of the processes that each team follows, it becomes much easier to understand where everyone fits into the overall company workflow. This not only streamlines your processes - it also helps to reduce errors, encourage dialogue and feedback between teams and ensures that your clients, suppliers, stakeholders and auditors are receiving accurate information in a timely manner.
Digitally documenting instructions also provides the opportunity to build a searchable, auditable library of valuable information that can help with project planning and management. This information can help you to preempt any potential time or process-related sinkholes in your project forecast, so you can alert all stakeholders before problems occur. Now THAT’S what we call efficient communication!
- Costly Back-and-Forth Processes
It’s only a matter of time before frantically searching through files begins to look like a game of ‘Pass the Parcel’ - how many levels of paperwork do you need to go through to get to the information you actually need or want?
The right workflow management software should provide your team with the ability to complete their tasks without having to waste time waiting around for additional instructions. Let’s take predictive maintenance, for example. You can improve your workflow efficiency by automating the inspection and authorization process for critical tasks (e.g. machinery servicing based on performance and previous service data) ahead of time, eliminating tedious back-and-forth.
Your ability to effectively foresee the need for tasks down the road safeguards projects from potentially costly delays. That’s a pretty interesting conversation starter with prospective clients, wouldn’t you say?
- No Offline Access
Life isn’t all WiFi and widgets, and we all know time waits for no one. More often than not, internet access isn’t available, but waiting for WiFi isn’t an option when you’re working on time-sensitive projects in the field. So what can you do offline?
Any software worth its weight in cement will have the capacity to allow you to complete core job tasks offline. You should be able to do all of the following offline tasks in any software you choose:
- Fill out documents
- Send documents to your outbox
- Take photos, record voice memos and add annotations directly into a document
Offline access also eliminates the need to memorize important information and avoids the pain of having to decode chicken-scratch handwriting. In a nutshell: If you can’t work offline, it’s not worth your time.
- Avoidable Delays
The dirtiest word in the construction industry: Delay. Some delays are unavoidable and can’t be foreseen, but any chance you have to optimize time and avoid delays should be taken.
One of the ways you can tackle potential delays before they spiral out of control is to ensure that any teams who carry out inspections can alert you to problems as quickly as possible. This way you can deploy solutions and keep costs down. Something as simple as a GPS tag on an image allows for an immediate response without the potentially confusing back-and-forth we mentioned earlier.
Here’s a real-world example: A field worker carries out an inspection and identifies an issue. They take a photo of the issue, add a voice note or annotation to explain the problem, then add the exact GPS coordinates and a time stamp to the image before sending it to you. Once you have the information, you can deploy a crew to fix the issue, or authorize the worker to fix it themselves. The worker can also add notes detailing how they fixed the issue, which can be a helpful resource for future incidents. Crisis averted, issue resolved, delay avoided. Happy days!
Those are just 5 of the many common factors negatively affecting workflows in the construction industry. These issues could be resolved by making a proactive decision to automate processes and eliminate inefficiencies. The moral of the story is: don’t end up like an empty coffee cup on an abandoned scaffold plank.
It’s time to join the digital transformation revolution and leave crappy processes and paper in the porta potty where they belong!