Leverage on-Site Mobile Technology to Connect Office and Jobsite
Having accurate project information in real time is essential for making critical decisions and remaining competitive. But, if your like many others, you can easily find yourself struggling with outdated tools and processes that cause communication breakdowns between office and field.
By working with industry professionals over the last 25+ years, we’ve been able to identify three key project execution challenges that prevent teams from staying under budget and on schedule.
Learn to solve these challenges by reading our new e-book!
Communication gaps between office and field
Disorganized Daily Planning
Slow and error-prone capture of work progress and time sheet data.
Microsoft Excel is an enormously powerful tool. You can use it to calculate just about anything and it has been an affordable and trustworthy business solution for many years. It’s great software for developing formulas, customizing calculations and moving data between systems. Most of us in the construction industry use Excel heavily. However, one drawback with Excel is that the variety of spreadsheets around the office can be difficult to manage. The inefficiencies of having spreadsheets scattered across departments can lead to budget and project issues.
In our recent free webinar, “Keep Your Secret Sauce,” we took a poll to see what ways our viewers were using spreadsheets. The survey said that 66% of the participants currently use spreadsheets for “All of the Above:” bidding/estimating, tracking job progress, take-off calculations and one-off calculations. It seems the construction industry remains quite dependent on Excel!
Many times here at InEight we will hear the request, “We need to make the changes that can get things standardized and our management systems updated.” Nonetheless, we know that it can be difficult to transition away from trusted processes, even if it is a step in the right direction. Finding a software solution that integrates with spreadsheets, like HD, may be the most efficient way. You can leverage the results in one standard project management tool.
Do you have any of any of these concerns about leaving Excel behind?
You can’t give up the calculations
You want to standardize your estimating but just can’t give up your time-tested formulas, even though manually entering calculations is time-consuming and prone to errors. Luckily, HD estimating and control solutions can easily integrate with them. For example, HD Estimating lets you store custom calculations in a spreadsheet that can be linked directly to your estimate.
You need those quick edits
We know that the abilities of many standard estimating systems can be limited compared to Excel. HD solutions allow you to still make quick revisions and provide the means to easily import and export between both systems. HD lets you have the best of both worlds by automatically updating your estimate when fields change in Excel.
You have a solid system in place for tracking field data
Perhaps the time collection system you already have is practically flawless. With HD, the good news is that there is no need to learn a new tool. With a bi-directional link to Excel, you can leverage the timesheet collection tools you already have while taking advantage of the standardized database in HD for things such as forecasting, reporting, benchmarking and schedule integration.
Would you like to know more about how HD solutions can be integrated with Excel to ease your transition to a more accurate and efficient estimating platform?
We are all creatures of habit; we appreciate the familiar and avoid change. In the construction industry, tight margins and the need to simply get things done can reinforce our innate instincts.
The issue for construction companies is that it’s often not just one individual that needs to change. Instead, the entire organization may have to change to achieve goals. The result is that you may have to restructure key processes across roles, something that can be quite frightening.
While the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”, history has shown that when companies resist change too greatly and for too long, technology and the outside world can advance so quickly that they will start having a difficult time. They then may be forced to spend large amounts of money simply trying to catch up.
Reasons construction companies may be slow to change include:
Rigid Company Structure
Some organizations have such a strong culture that new changes can create immediate imbalance. Over time, any company structure can become rigid without some variance. Did you ever hear someone say, “Well, we have always done it that way?” This attitude can create tunnel vision across departments, which might make change more difficult.
Costs of Change
A sunk cost, a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered, is one of the main reasons companies resist change. If financial resources have already been invested in a specific direction, reluctance to change course will be likely.
The desire to sustain the status quo is common, but this is not always for the good. If you let them, short-term, immediate benefits will guide efforts, leading to indifference or even outright dismissal when a better long-term solution becomes available.
Innovation is important for construction companies to remain competitive. In our webinar, “Keep Your Secret Sauce,” we discuss how construction companies can leverage – not replace – spreadsheets for better estimates. We show you how you can ease into innovation, without losing what already works for you.
What’s your secret sauce? Would you like to learn more about how InEight can help?
Leverage on-Site Mobile Technology to Connect Office and Jobsite
Are you working like a caveman in a digital age? Check out this infographic to learn how office and on-site teams can leverage on-site mobile technology to gain greater visibility, control and decision making across the project lifecycle.
E-Book: Overcoming the Top 5 Project Cost Management Challenges
Are you struggling to improve your cost estimation and project control? Download this e-book to learn about the 5 most common project cost management challenges faced by owners, contractors and EPCs and how to solve them.
[Video] Introduction to Virtual Design and Construction
A special seminar hosted at InEight for the Arizona AGC Young Constructors Forum
Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) is one of the fastest growing technology segments of the construction industry. Enabling organizations to gain greater transparency, reduce risk and increase efficiency, VDC concepts and technologies can help project professionals improve project confidence.
In an effort to serve growing industry interest, InEight recently hosted an educational seminar about Virtual Design and Construction for the Young Constructors Forum, a committee of the Arizona Chapter of the AGC (Associated General Contractors of America). In this session, Connor Christensen, a BIM and VDC expert from Kiewit Corporation, provides an overview of history of BIM and VDC and how professionals can build a foundation of knowledge to leverage VDC technologies.
Innovative project-driven companies understand that the scale and complexity of today’s infrastructure, building, oil & gas, mining, and utilities projects call for active coordination and real-time reporting. To keep all stakeholders informed of schedule and cost status, they have invested in the technologies that enable the faster decisions needed to keep projects on track.
In this white paper, we will share how companies are adopting modern, connected, electronic project controls solutions that can enable project transparency and mitigate risks to increase productivity, collaboration and optimization.
In this white paper we’ll share how “The InEight 8 Habits for Project Success” can help companies create:
• Process efficiencies
• Timely and accurate intraday feedback about activities and progress
• A collaborative and transparent work process
Please fill out the form below to download this white paper:
Technology Strategies to Better Manage Construction Projects
A fundamental goal of all construction businesses is to minimize risk – whether it’s tied to schedule, resources or other key costs – during a project’s lifecycle. As the complexity of construction projects continues to grow in today’s market, the level of risk grows as well. It takes an exorbitant amount of time and resources to ensure the project is operating as efficiently as possible without compromising performance in any key operational areas.
Now, construction firms are using technology to get a “leg up” to maximize profits and preserve margins. Technology is helping increase the speed of collaboration, dramatically improving visibility to key data and reducing costs associated with antiquated, often paper-based processes. In the quest for zero setbacks or losses on any project, technology is helping companies in the construction space take significant leaps – and greatly reduce risk.
There are three key areas where a focus on the right technology solutions can reap big rewards for construction companies.
All construction projects track quantities – a universal necessity. The best companies have technology systems in place that can capably track, manage and report quantity consumption, such as labor, materials and equipment, across all phases of a project. A good quantity management system also should maintain open connections to the back-office management system or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform. This will allow teams to manage a project or portfolio level consumption of quantities with the same cost structure used for budgeting and purchasing. A quantity-focused system lets everyone speak the same language across the project.
Estimating can often make or break any project. Unrealistic estimates will almost always (and quickly) lead to reduced margins. Strong technology systems should be able to give project teams greater access to historical benchmarks and when combined with a strong quantity management system, can help ensure more accurate, realistic estimates. Comprehensive access to historical benchmarks also allows teams to more deeply analyze risks and better forecast anticipated productivity levels to provide a broader view for every estimate. Over time, each estimate can get more accurate and predictable than the last, helping construction businesses win jobs at the best price.
The ability to view current data on quantity consumption and to compare that data against estimates is essential. Equally important is the ability to continuously measure labor performance against the original plan – something technology can greatly enhance. With better access to performance information, plan adjustments can be made early enough in the process to have a meaningful impact on overall project results – helping meet or beat an estimate. With a robust project performance toolset, project teams can realize measurable benefits by limiting risk earlier in the lifecycle.
Mobile applications are the last piece of the puzzle, arming those in the field with near real-time information so they can make more timely adjustments to plans faster and smarter than ever before.
With technology strategies and tools focused on quantities, benchmarks and performance, construction business have the ability to better manage risks – and get closer and closer to maximum results and profitability. Start building your technology game plan today.
About the Author
Brad Barth is Chief Product Officer for InEight Inc., where he oversees the product management and product marketing departments. Prior to InEight, Brad was vice president of industries for Hard Dollar Corporation, where he was instrumental in transforming the company from a start-up software developer into one of the world’s leading solution providers for project-driven enterprises.
As daily reliance on mobile technology increases, so should use of technology on the jobsite
Think about your daily activities. You wake to the sound of an alarm on your mobile phone. Electronic meeting reminders help you stay punctual and remember important events. Your phone and tablet allow you to stay connected to news and information when you’re away.
We plan and manage our lives on mobile devices, so why should construction jobsites be any different? Mobile devices can be used to collect and view project data wherever you are and whenever you want — in the office or out in the field. Project managers, planners, executives and owners want to know what is happening in the field as quickly as possible, and mobile devices can accommodate those demands. Here are three fundamental reasons you need a mobile solution to collect construction job site data.
1. Provides immediate visibility into job site activities
Software with field data collection applications enables users to link information from job sites to field offices and vice versa. This provides better visibility into job site data, such as hours assigned to tasks or information on safety incidents — all with the click of a button. Gone are the days when project managers in field offices had to wait for crews to return to the office each evening and manually input information before they could view reports.
2. Creates efficiency by eliminating paper process
It’s easy for details to get lost in the paperwork. Paper gets misplaced. Handwriting isn’t legible. Coffee spills onto reports. A lot of things can happen when you’re bound to one hard copy report — not to mention the poor staff member who is going to have to enter the paper documentation into the system anyway. Avoid the time drain. Mobile applications eliminate the paper process, making field data collection more efficient. Today, construction crews can use mobile technology from practically anywhere. Even when connectivity is a problem, some advanced mobile applications allow data to be entered in offline mode and synchronized later.
3. Shows real-time performance and keeps the project on track
Extending project systems with mobile technology can provide instant access to key performance details. By learning of problems when they occur, rather than at the end of each day or week, you can more quickly solve problems and keep your project on track.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I get all of that, but it sounds complicated.” You’re not alone. Research shows that one of the primary reasons construction companies hesitate to implement new technology is the fear that it will be too complex for crews to learn and use. After all, even the best technology solution in the world is useless if people can’t figure out how to use it. This is why the best mobile applications are “battle tested” by construction crews early in their development cycle to ensure that user-friendly functions are actually user friendly.
As our reliance on mobile technology increases in our daily lives, so should our use of mobile technology at the job site. Mobile technology isn’t a trend or a fad. It’s a reality. It provides instant visibility into job site data, creating efficiency and connecting key stakeholders in real time. To stay current and competitive in this industry, mobile technology solutions are no longer just nice to have, they’re must-haves.
About the Author
Brad Barth is Chief Product Officer for InEight Inc., where he oversees the product management and product marketing departments. Prior to InEight, Brad was Vice President of Industries for Hard Dollar Corporation, where he was instrumental in transforming the company from a start-up software developer into one of the world’s leading solution providers for project-driven enterprises.