When looking to implement best practices with regard to any technological innovation, construction firms may struggle as they seek advice from thought leaders, competitors and tech service providers themselves. This is primarily because no two organizations are exactly alike, meaning that IT solutions will vary from one enterprise to the next based on a wide range of factors. When it comes to BYOD policies, these factors can be especially complex and often require a great deal of planning throughout the corporate hierarchy. Executives must be prepared to evaluate their firms' mobile needs across every aspect of their business operations and ensure they have a clear vision of how they want to mobilize their workforces.
No detail should be left out
While it is always important for team leaders to seek the guidance of others in their field as they move into the world of mobile, there is no substitute for a thorough self-analysis from the top down. Managers must be in communication with their superiors, lower level staff, subcontractors and even client base to determine what exactly they are looking to get out of a mobile device management solution. This means that nobody's opinion can be overlooked and leaders need to be as objective as possible when assessing their strengths and weaknesses. For example, a mobile policy stressing collaborative applications for highly dispersed work forces will not be of much use to a small firm that stays on the same job site throughout a project's duration.
Context is paramount in the process of choosing and optimizing a BYOD policy, and businesses must find a solution that works with their current construction management software if they want to avoid issues of compatibility, system updates and confusing monthly payments. In fact, analyzing daily operations and typical tasks performed with these systems can be a guiding light for managers who don't know up from down when it comes to mobile device management. A recent piece from InformationWeek suggested that firms must create their own business mobility canvasses as a launching point to determining the best BYOD policy for their needs. Here are the three steps that the article recommended businesses follow as they plan their leap into the mobile age:
- Find a partner to assess and strategize: While some firms have success creating their own BYOD policies from the ground up, teaming up with a service provider to handle the more complex aspects of security and system compatibility is a wise move for team leaders still unsure of their particular requirements. InformationWeek noted that having a good partner to navigate the BYOD environment can help firms to dodge unnecessary trends, keep up with rapidly changing consumer demands and figure out the exact needs of the company to hone in on the right mobile device management solution. If a business is already working closely with a construction project management software provider, this could be a great place to start.
- Sort out specific mobile goals: A BYOD policy will not be very effective if a firm does not set clear goals for its implementation, InformationWeek reminded team leaders. Setting challenging yet realistic expectations for employees and partners alike is key to making BYOD the productive and innovative powerhouse it should be. Firms should designate targeted areas for improvement within particular departments and even specific teams if they want to go the extra mile. With a better idea of what their managers hope to get from BYOD, employees will work harder to get the most out of their mobile devices in the field.
- Work with IT to develop a mobile roadmap: A vision of mobility can only be made a reality if team leaders collaborate with their partners and internal IT staff to ensure they have the budget and resources necessary to make it happen. Taking the time to determine the technical aspects of a BYOD policy can mean the difference between success and a mobile disaster, InformationWeek stressed. With reliable construction project management software in place, firms take much of this pressure of the shoulders of their IT teams.
Finding the BYOD sweet spot
Mobile device policies come in many forms, from loose BYOD approaches without restrictions or active security measures to strict protocols that must be followed unrelentingly if they are to work. According to a recent report from Fox Business, creating a balanced mobile strategy that emphasizes the protection of data without limiting the productivity of end-users is one of the greatest challenges presented by the BYOD movement. The article pointed to research from Gartner that predicted 20 percent of enterprise mobile strategies will fail by 2016 due to restrictive measures. Seeing as BYOD is an inherently consumer-centric phenomenon, businesses must acknowledge that employees want both freedom and power when it comes to their personal devices.
In recent years, the cloud has solidified itself as one of the most powerful yet diverse advancements in IT, moving past its buzzword phase and into the everyday vocabulary of business leaders across industries. Construction firms in a variety of disciplines have enjoyed the benefits afforded by capital project management software, including meticulous financial record keeping, advanced scheduling capabilities and enhanced collaborative features that bring managers, employees, subcontractors and clients together in a seamless user experience.
While most firms have moved past the days of using pen and paper to handle daily business operations on and off the worksite, some team leaders have yet to embrace the cloud in any capacity. Although this may appear to put those firms at an immediate disadvantage, the nature of cloud services today allows organizations without existing IT infrastructure to implement a comprehensive cloud based software solution more quickly than ever before. While an internal management platform can take months to develop from the ground up, firms can now deploy cutting-edge construction project controls in a matter of hours.
Late adopters can catch up in no time
Business leaders who are late to the cloud party have no reason to worry about getting up to speed with a top-of-the-line software solution that will give them the competitive advantages they've sought for years. In fact, midsize firms may have a leg up over large corporations when it comes to adopting new cloud solutions, according to a recent article from SiliconANGLE. Reporting from IBM Pulse 2014, the news source highlighted the various ways that developing firms can actually get an edge over their larger competitors by skipping the process of internal infrastructure development and jumping directly into the cloud. For these organizations, playing the waiting game might pay off in a big way.
A variety of other platforms enhanced by the cloud are also becoming more readily available for firms looking to take their first foray into the technology. While resources such as mobile device management, social media integration and big data analytics were once considered isolated components of a larger IT environment, cloud services now tend pack these options into their software subscription services as a standard feature set. For a construction company lacking any exposure to these advancements, it can be an overwhelming adjustment period for managers and employees alike, but the rich feature sets of these platforms are key to rising above the competition and providing clients with an unbeatable experience from top to bottom. SiliconANGLE explained the significance of these capabilities and the speed with which they can now be implemented.
"We have the coming together of cloud, mobile, social, and big data, which is really changing everything," John Mason, general manager of mid-market at IBM, told the news source. Referencing new cloud adopters of moderate size, he explained that "What cloud lets them do is go really fast, it's about speed and agility. Find markets to go to and grow quickly, that's what cloud is all about."
Where industry giants may get caught up
If a construction firm is well-established in its field and employs thousands of workers at once, chances are high that it has a wide range of legacy IT solutions already at its fingertips - the result of years spent by developers working to perfect a tailored set of solutions for specialized business needs. While this may seem like the dream for many up and coming firms, SiliconANGLE revealed that an extensive array of internal systems can be more of an obstacle than a path to success when it comes to the implementation of today's more lightweight cloud based solutions. Instead of laying a foundation of powerful tech resources as one may assume, these legacy systems can hinder integration processes and make upkeep a nightmare for IT staff and related budgets.
"In the mid and higher end of mid-market, the challenge that many of these companies face is they spend most of their IT time just keeping the shop going," Mason said, according to the source. "What we really are able to do now with the cloud technology is to speed new growth projects for these companies."
Do established firms have to wipe their IT slates clean?
Despite a great deal of praise surrounding cloud services and their advantages over in-house networks, there are ways for larger construction firms to create hybrid solutions that pick and choose from the best of both worlds, according to SiliconANGLE. Although some older tech assets should be overhauled completely as a result of utter incompatibility, as noted by Electronic Products and Technology, most reasonably updated hardware can be tailored to work seamlessly with subscription cloud services to give firms flexibility as well as greater autonomy over their information.
Building the trust of a new client can be as much of a challenge for construction firms as building their next house or addition. Gauging customer satisfaction is becoming an increasingly complex issue due to digital communication channels allowing for fewer face-to-face interactions, but instead of falling victim to the potential downsides of the digital age, smart business leaders will turn things around by optimizing their construction software for a seamless and consistent client experience throughout the entirety of a contract.
Where are firms going wrong with client engagement?
Despite advancements in construction management software and other technologies that have made it easier than ever to stay in contact with clients across platforms and time zones, businesses are still failing to address the fundamentals of client service and paying the price with higher turnover rates and bad online reviews. While firms may have certain elements of a client engagement strategy down pat, there are many facets to a complete plan that they may still be lacking. The recent Econsultancy 'Technology for E-commerce Report' highlighted the many ways that companies are falling short:
- Websites are not well organized or navigable: Clients turn to the Internet as their primary resource for nearly everything these days, so finding a construction firm should be no different. Unfortunately, many firms are missing their opportunities to make a good first impression with their websites. Econsultancy reported that only a fifth of its survey respondents claimed they had a site that featured high quality search functionality despite 56 percent calling this a critical element of online business.
- Content management and mobile support are suffering: Firms need to realize that business in the 21st century means drawing clients in with unique content and wide availability, not chasing them down with messages they'll likely ignore. If a construction company's site lacks the information required for visitors to educate themselves on everything they'd need to know, team leaders cannot expect much new business to be coming in over the Web. As far as mobile is concerned, firms can't fall behind the times. Optimizing sites for smartphones and tablets is a necessary step to success in the digital age and cannot be overlooked.
- Integration woes put business on hold: The prospect of new software to help increase customer engagement may seem like a good idea, but how many managers actually take the time to plan the details of their next tech investment and work with a provider through the entire process? According to Econsultancy, these oversights have led to a bevy of problems regarding integration of new tech solutions with legacy systems. Forty-three percent of company respondents and 39 percent of supply-side respondents cited this as one of the three greatest barriers to their online success.
- Platform lag time can be a killer: Spending too much time between tech solutions can be an insidious cause of lost business and a lack of client engagement. The longer a company takes to replatform its systems, the greater risk it runs of letting potential clients slip through the cracks. Econsultancy mentioned that 22 percent of responding companies had replatformed in the past while 20 percent were in the process and nearly a third were considering it for the near future. Smart firms will keep operations up and running despite these shifts occurring behind the scenes.
- IT maintenance is draining budgets: Trying to constantly update and maintain an internal network to process business information and uphold every element of a firm's operations can put a major strain on the wallets of decision-makers in any industry. With Econsultancy noting that 69 percent of companies plan to increase their e-commerce technology investment over the next 12 months, team leaders can save themselves a headache and leverage construction project management software that has all IT needs handled by its provider.
Econsultancy Research Director Linus Gregoriadis shared his thoughts on the state of online business today and where firms need to focus their efforts moving forward.
"As well as facing technical challenges, it is clear that companies are struggling to find people with the right skills to improve their e-commerce capabilities," Gregoriadis was quoted as saying by the source. "On the plus side, it is good to see companies making significant investment in their technology, while also planning to recruit more staff. Additionally, given the complexity of many types of integration, it is no surprise that many companies are using third party integrators to customize their platforms."
Never overlook the basics
While customer engagement is a complex topic with many nuanced factors influencing its effectiveness, there are some simple improvements that construction firms can make to keep clients happy. TrustInsight recently reported that nearly a third of online credit card declines are unnecessary and avoidable with better transaction processing systems. Businesses cannot let mistakes like this determine the success of their futures.
With countless varieties of cloud services available to private enterprise in today's evolving IT market, construction firms used to dealing in pen-and-paper records and standard mobile communications can find themselves adrift in a sea of choices, each one appearing to be better than the last. When these services first came onto the scene, excitement surrounding the cloud had companies worldwide adopting solutions quickly and perhaps haphazardly, with business leaders often failing to account for the unique requirements of their operations and select a system that would be the best fit.
However, as the technology has evolved throughout the years, cloud services have become more customized and fine-tuned for specific business goals than ever. Systems are now more often products created with a particular industry or sector in mind rather than a general solution that must be altered in a one-size-fits-all manner. Not only has this been good news for the cloud IT market, but business leaders everywhere now have access to more refined, specialized software than ever before. For construction firms with high-pressure time constraints and meticulous planning necessary for success, this is a blessing indeed.
Taking steps towards the cloud
One of the biggest pitfalls for construction companies looking to implement cloud services is a failure to properly research and learn about the best possible solutions for their needs. A recent article from Computerworld highlighted this concern, explaining that while these management systems are beneficial, choosing the right one is a major choice and must be considered from a variety of perspectives. James Staten, principal analyst with Forrester Research spoke with the source about the importance of this pivotal move.
"You're making a decision that you're going to use this particular cloud, and you're not necessarily going to value portability nor are you going to value having multiple clouds," Staten told the news source. "This company's expertise is going to be limited to its cloud, but those consultants are probably the most knowledgeable about what the cloud can do, and they'll have insider tricks because the guys who built the cloud sit right next to them."
Working with providers to get the edge
Unlike traditional on-premise storage and management solutions, cloud services require that a company stay communicative with its provider if it wants to get the most out of the technology. This is great news for construction firms that are fed up with the status quo of spending too much time and money for third-party IT maintenance that will only fix a problem in the short term. For consistent service that will address issues specific to the business, growing firms need the attentiveness of a cloud provider to customize their solutions.
"As a result, a pure-play cloud provider can put things in the cloud and can do things programmatically that can help you reduce your cloud bill, improve the availability of your application and recommend changes in your application design to get better cloud economics," Staten explained to the news source. "They can tweak your application and its deployment, push it across multiple geographies and do a whole bunch of other things that you don't have a clue how to do and probably don't even know that you could do such things in the cloud."
Considering the expansion of business
Firms can be easily held back by management solutions that don't scale their performance with the growth of a client base or across regions. Having a solution that can be easily adjusted to cover more operations and physical locations is the key to unbridled expansion and a jump start on the competition.
There is no debating that a construction management software suite can revolutionize the way a firm conducts its business operations, plans and executes projects and interacts with clients throughout the building process, but there are a few things that team leaders need to take into account before jumping right into a new technology platform for their companies.
Making the switch from a traditional resource planning system to a streamlined construction financial management solution takes time and a clearly delineated plan in order to bring about the best possible results, and it is important for decision-makers to understand the implications of this shift. Here are some factors that team leaders should consider when deciding to take the leap into a cloud-based construction management system.
Knowing the power and limits of improved financial records
For many construction firms, enhanced financial organization and payment methods are the primary driving forces behind the decision to adopt project management software. Veteran team leaders know that every extra dollar can help their companies in the long run, and even minor improvements in the speed, accessibility and accuracy of construction financial management solutions can make a significant impact on reducing overhead and cutting out redundant expenditure.
According to a recent article from Practical Ecommerce, savings can come from a variety of sources when a company leverages more advanced financial record capabilities. This component of the software can help to track an order from receipt to delivery, allow managers to make changes on the fly, choose shipping carriers and more. However, team leaders who want to get the most out of their new, powerful financial systems need to learn every detail of the service before they jump in.
Understanding the benefits and responsibilities behind payment management
The ability to better organize payment and labor information is also a key asset that should not be overlooked when a manager inquires about construction project management software. If a team has struggled with setting schedules, recording payment data and getting workers their compensation on time in the past, this element of the management system needs to be prioritized above all else. With an improved grip on the timing and execution of projects thanks to better coordination with employees, managers will reap benefits in other areas such as client retention and legions of new customers looking to get a quality service experience.
In addition, workers will be glad they have complete access to the records previously hidden from sight and will likely put forth a greater effort as a result. Team morale is essential to the productivity and innovation of a firm and happy employees are the first step to making this a reality. Of course, workers will need to be informed from the start about how the new system works, what is expected of them when it comes to its use and precisely which goals the team is hoping to accomplish with its implementation.
Creating a realistic vision of a company in the eyes of the client
On the client side of things, an improved toolbox of payment methods can open up a business to a variety of customers that may have felt restricted by the limited options they had before. Practical Ecommerce pointed out that while some people prefer to use credit cards, firms that support alternative payment systems such as PayPal, Google Wallet and other forthcoming options will allow themselves to get ahead of the competition that may be lacking in this area. While these are all exciting propositions for a technologically lagging company trying to gain its footing, managers need to be in consistent communication with their customers if they want to be prepared for mishaps or shortcomings.
This same idea applies to a firm's approach to client transparency. There are countless benefits to giving clients the option of following a project from start to finish and providing them with the opportunity to contribute thoughts and criticisms along the way. However, team leaders need to remember that this is, in a way, a blessing and a curse. While clients will likely be respectful of the team's schedules and willingness to make changes, there is always the chance that some will use the power granted by this transparency to take advantage of a firm's resources. Too many change order forms and last-minute alterations can turn the worksite into a nightmare for a team with a deadline fast approaching, and managers need to set boundaries from the beginning to avoid these sticky situations.
Marketing and social media proliferation
There is a lot of hype surrounding the use of social media as a marketing technique, and better budgeting can free up resources to take advantage of what it has to offer. Still, companies should focus on providing a quality experience for the customer first rather than bombarding social platforms with their presence. Happy clients will share their good experiences themselves.
The role of mobile technology with regard to construction management software is undeniably exciting for contractors everywhere. Where firms were once restricted by the limitations of cell phones in how employees could communicate with coworkers and clients, integrated solutions now make accessibility and collaboration possible from anywhere smartphones and tablets can connect. The widespread adoption of these cloud based services is changing the way that companies perform construction and reach out to their clients.
Of course, there are always holdbacks that come with trying to implement mobile platforms within the daily operations of a construction firm. Firstly, there can be a bit of a learning curve to scale for employees or clients who are not necessarily tech savvy. It may take some extra time for staff to get themselves accustomed to the features and capabilities of these solution suites, especially if their jobs do not typically involve the use of mobile platforms or construction software of any kind. Secondly, there are security concerns involving bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices.
Thankfully, there are ways for managers to get around the roadblocks that pop up when harnessing the power of mobile devices for their construction firms. According to CIO Magazine, projects such as these need to be managed thoughtfully from start to finish, beginning with team leaders defining their scope with clear objectives and goals. For example, managers should reveal what they hope to accomplish with the use of construction project management software and ease their teams into the process without setting expectations too high. In the initial stages of implementation, leaders can hold training seminars or peer workshops to help staff get used to the inner workings of the software and learn how to tap into its most useful functions.
Setting limits and parameters
While it is always important to encourage staff to dive right into a new project, mobile integration is something that requires a more careful approach if it is going to make a significant impact on business operations. CIO Magazine explained that managers need to be realistic in the goals they set for their organizations and gradually expand the scope of the project by altering objectives or pushing workers to provide their own innovations to the process. In regard to the use of mobile, this can mean giving employees more autonomy on the job site, a greater amount of control over their schedules or the encouragement to embrace collaboration between team members. The source also reminded managers to not forget the logistical aspects of a project, including the following measures.
- Project objectives
Mobile implementation is not a quick fix, and companies need to be prepared to set aside the necessary time, energy and money to get the best results in the long run. By setting a clearly defined scope at the beginning of a project like this, managers will find that they have an easier time mitigating short term problems that pop up rather than facing them down the line when they may worsen.
Not overlooking security
With such a heavy focus on the proper implementation of mobile solutions, managers can forget that network security can be an issue for BYOD strategies. The safety of company financial and payment data is of top importance, as is protecting the personal information of clients and subcontractors. Despite all of its conveniences, having mobile technology on the worksite means that companies need to keep a close eye on the way they use their devices. A recent article from DrivesNControls highlighted some of the concerns that these methods have brought forth for the manufacturing industry, explaining that wireless network connections are on the rise and becoming increasingly vulnerable each year.
"The rising use of wireless networks and industrial Ethernet is leading to a growing trend in the so-called bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement in the manufacturing business, with workers utilizing their own smartphones and tablets to monitor and control industrial equipment," associate director of IHS's industrial automation group Mark Watson told the news source. "However, such devices may lack adequate security, offering hackers easy access to confidential data - or allowing them to spread malware through factory automation systems."
Just as managers must be clear in their objectives while putting forth the idea of mobile implementation to their teams, BYOD best practices need to be stressed from the start as well. Unsafe habits can form quickly if workers do not realize the implications of sloppy mobile use, so leaders should emphasize the fact that security is of paramount importance to the project. DrivesNControls suggested that companies might want to look into various security solutions to ensure the safety of vital information, including wireless LANs and Bluetooth technology that can keep hackers from getting into user devices. It is always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with mobile implementation, and managers cannot forget this fact.
The U.S. economy saw significant employment gains in January of this year, according to the most recent report from ADP and Moody's Analytics. And among the industries to see the largest uptick in employment was the construction sector.
Architect Magazine reported that the U.S. economy added a total of 175,000 jobs in the nonfarm private sector in January. This figure is in line with average monthly growth throughout 2013, according to Carlos Rodriguez, president and CEO of ADP.
Of these new jobs, 25,000 were added to the construction industry. While not as high as the previous two months, January's numbers were significantly better than the average construction industry figures for most of 2013, according to the news source.
The coming months may bring even more positive news. Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, recently stated that he expects monthly job growth figures of around 225,000 for 2014.
"I do expect things to pick up," Zandi said in a conference call, according to Architect Magazine. "I do expect 2014 to be a breakout year."
As was the case in January, the construction sector is likely to play a major role in such job creation, as a better overall economy is leading to a significant increase in private and public building efforts. To keep pace, construction firms will inevitably need to hire more personnel.
This means that construction firms must take steps sooner rather than later to prepare for the new economic opportunities that are presenting themselves. A key point in such efforts should be investment in advanced construction software. With the right solutions in place, firms will be able to handle an increase in projects and staff without sacrificing efficiency or coming across any other major stumbling blocks that would otherwise undermine the bottom line.
Now that the worst depths of the recession are finally fading into the past, construction firms are enjoying the luxury of more consistent business and the chance to invest some capital back into their companies. But as the industry gets back on its own two feet, firms also have an obligation to step up to the challenges of increased demand in nearly every portion of the sector. To rise above the competition, team leaders will have to make honest evaluations of their own strengths and weaknesses while leaving room for worker and client feedback. It may be daunting to be flung into a burgeoning market, but prioritizing these assessments will pay off in the future when companies find themselves leading the pack in a strong economy.
Analysts' predictions show promise
The final months of 2013 gave a glimpse of a bright future for the commercial construction industry, and according to a recent piece in the New England Real Estate Journal, Brian Gallagher, director of business development of Sullivan Construction in Bedford, N.H. believes that the new year is living up to those expectations, especially in the New England region. Gallagher explained that many markets are seeing particularly impressive levels of growth in 2014, including education, office, healthcare, advanced technology, retail and long-term care & assisted living. While many of these projects consist of renovations or expansions on existing facilities, construction firms are already reaping the benefits of heightened consumer demand.
Gallagher pointed out that the office construction market is gaining strength due to general economic recovery, and businesses are on the prowl for space along the coast of N.H. Because so many office buildings went unused or abandoned in the past five years, many contractors are finding opportunities to refurbish and construct new facilities as well. These projects can be especially sensitive considering the high pressure put on firms by businesses that want to move into their space as quickly as possible, so construction financial management software is essential in planning, costing and executing the renovations or building processes. An exceptional job on one site will also grow the reputation of a firm and increase the likelihood of referrals and positive online reviews.
High-profile projects mean big earnings
Among the major contracts that have come out of the rapidly growing office market in New England are a 40,000 square foot headquarters for Sprague Energy located at Pease International Tradeport, along with another 38,000 square feet for an associated firm. A fitup of a 33,000 square foot office building took place in Londonderry while renovations at ECCO USA's 60,000 square foot headquarters are underway while the building is fully operational, adding to the complexities of the project. With the level of expertise required for these projects, as well as the sheer amount of time and money that must go into them, companies expecting to keep up with the most reputable firms must adapt by leveraging construction project management software if they haven't already.
Education and healthcare construction markets are also experiencing a boost, Gallagher continued, mentioning that his firm recently completed a 56 room Memory Care facility in Rye, N.H. for Sanctuary at Rye, the first building of its kind in the state. He also oversaw the renovations of Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Mass, Mid-Coast Healthcare in Brunswick, ME, Wentworth Douglass Hospital in Dover, N.H. and a medical fit-up for Eyesight Ophthalmic Services in Somersworth, N.H. Gallagher explained that a minimally invasive workzone is crucial in projects such as these, as well as ones for educational institutions.
A skilled labor squeeze ensues
With more major projects launching throughout the Northeast, companies must brace themselves for a constant flow of business by getting their finances and workforces in order. This will require the use of construction software, but also sharp judgment and powerful leadership abilities from management. As Gallagher noted in his article, as consumer demand for high-profile projects skyrockets, so does the need for skilled labor for construction firms. Companies need to stay on the cutting edge of construction management technology if they want to attract the best workers in the region and help themselves retain a strong client base as the year continues.
New England is not the only area of the country experiencing an anticipated shortage of skilled labor. According to a recent report by the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, southeast Louisiana will see the demand for skilled labor quadruple in the next few years as a result of retiring baby boomers and a rapidly expanding petrochemical and manufacturing facilities industry.
"Organizations working to reduce income inequality will be key to maximizing these job opportunities for local residents," according to the report. "Community and technical colleges will need expanded capacity." Companies must remain diligent in their quests for quality workers to get ahead of their competition.
Contractors that don't keep a close eye on their financial records when building a home can easily find themselves in trouble when they realize their budgets are depleted too early in a project. Without having a system for the meticulous tracking of materials, labor time and subcontractor payments, costs can spiral out of control and leave managers scrambling to make ends meet without charging their clients extra. With this level of uncertainty added to the pressure of satisfying client needs, how can contractors make house construction less of a headache? Successful firms already know that construction management software is a must-have in an industry that requires so many operations to be handled at once, and there are ways to make its cost-saving benefits even more powerful.
The unseen factors of house construction
Companies need to be diligent with their financial records if a home is to be completed on time and at the highest possible level of quality. But even if a firm tracks has its accounting practices down to a science, there are still unforeseen factors that can alter the course of a project and drain budgets. Between labor shortages, spikes in materials costs and last-minute change orders, building homes can throw contractors for a loop if they are not properly prepared with adequate construction financial management software. With the right digital tools, firms can have constant and fast access to their files so they can review, update or alter any piece of information necessary anywhere and at any time. This is key for when a sudden change in plans requires a quick solution and reassessment of finances.
In addition to having and advanced level of agility on the job site, financial transparency is crucial when going about home construction, especially for clients who want to make sure that their projects are being completed in the right time frame and on budget. Because clients are especially invested in the construction of their own homes, contractors will thank themselves for leveraging software that ensures the maximum visibility of financial information for anyone involved on a project. Clients won't feel left in the dark about costing processes and will be more comfortable providing their input in a collaborative way rather than trying to uncover the truth from a contractor who has project records on lockdown.
Proactive measures to stay on track
Besides having proper construction accounting software to keep financial records straight and secure, contractors must think ahead to anticipate challenges that may arise as they push a project along. A recent article from TribLive explored ways in which firms are working to take control of variables that tend to let costs get out of control when constructing homes. While pre-planned designs have price tags that are generally well known, clients and contractors get into dangerous territory when they decide to customize a project from the start. It may seem appealing to exercise a greater level of control over each aspect of a home, but this is where unanticipated expenditure can lead to inescapable budgetary issues.
TribLive suggested that contractors set a precedent of realism for their clients from the start, giving them the most accurate financial picture possible. With the help of construction project management software, contractors can easily plan per-square-foot estimates, keep up to date with the cost of materials and even plan individual budgets for each room of the house. It was also recommended that plans with subcontractors be set in stone before proceeding past the initial stages of planning to avoid last-minute costs and set a strong pace from the beginning of the project.
Leaders in the construction industry agree on the countless benefits that companies can reap by implementing construction management software. Between streamlined financial operations, quicker payment processes and improved collaboration between workers, managers and clients it is easy to see why so many firms have taken the leap and adopted these technologies with enthusiasm. But while these features are undoubtedly the main attractions for most companies looking to buy into capital project management, there are always bonuses that fly under the radar. Businesses need to see for themselves exactly how these solutions can help them before they jump to conclusions about their abilities or limits. Here are some hidden gems that will serve as a pleasant surprise for those already on board with construction software, as well as convince those skeptics who have yet to catch on.
A happier, healthier workplace
The best construction firms emphasize teamwork as an essential part of their company philosophy. Smooth employee and supervisor relationships are key to ensuring that a project is completed without internal arguments or resentment that can hold a team back from operating at its highest level of efficiency and strength. When a company implements construction management software, the team dynamic is enhanced in a number of ways. For starters, accountability with regard to project records and finances means that everyone must take responsibility for changes they make. This encourages collaboration and cultivates a communicative environment in which team members will vocalize their thoughts and opinions more readily. Open discussion is important in such a high-pressure work environment as construction and can help relieve some of the tension that can build up as deadlines begin to appear on the horizon.
A similar concept of transparency can be readily applied to the client side of things. Because hiring a contractor is such a large time and financial commitment, clients expect that they will be kept in the loop from the beginning of a project through to its completion. If customers have access to material order forms, worker hour logs and other project records, they will grow more confident in their chosen firm and be more likely to come back or recommend its services to a friend. This will not only let companies retain their current client base but help them expand into unexplored territory with new contracts and a bolstered reputation. Quality rapport is an invaluable asset in an industry that requires such detailed and prolonged client engagement, and it will pay off down the road for companies that devote themselves to great service.
Safety first, not last
Another prime example of a commonly overlooked benefit to management software is the time it frees to prioritize worker safety on the job site. While the well-being of team members should never be put on the back burner, too many contractors are focused on finishing projects due to schedule constraints caused by inefficient practices. Construction compliance is often a sticking point for many companies that lack the technology to let them adapt quickly to new situations and requirements. Being able to change plans on the fly can reduce time spent backtracking or starting over from scratch, two headache-inducing tasks that can be especially infuriating when a minor safety infraction is the cause. Contractors can be in constant communication with their workers to notify them of any regulations that may affect their sites and address problems before they become hazardous.
Contractors must also not forget that adhering to state regulations on the job site can save a lot of cash in the long run, especially as governments jack up fines for failing to meet safety parameters. The money saved from expediting construction compliance processes can reach impressive sums when contractors notice their competition falling victim to massive fees and being forced to stall building until practices meet regulations. In construction, time is money, and being held back by regulatory chains can spell doom for a firm already on the ropes with deadlines and tightening budgets. Between the extra time saved and reduced logistical clutter on company schedules, business leaders will be thanking themselves in advance when they decide to leverage construction project management software.
Cutting-edge does not have to be complicated
Construction firms sometimes share the misconception that cloud based software solutions have no place on the job site due to their perceived complexity and difficult learning curve. While this may have been true a decade ago, today's construction management services are designed to be incredibly easy to implement and teach workers how to use. A recent report from ARN looked into an Australian firm surprised by how simple it was to adopt software solutions for construction purposes.
"The ease of access for all involved in projects, less time to induct contractors and manage documentation means we are able to concentrate on other areas of projects to ensure safety and quality are the best they can be," AREA Construction General Manager Chris Went told the news source.
Team leaders must invest in the future of their firms and embrace the gift of construction software as soon as possible.