5 Ways It Pays to
Automate Administrative Tasks
March 07, 2023
Naturally, when we think of how labor-intensive construction is, we think of the physical labor side of it. Beyond skillfully wielding hammers, navigating forklifts and maneuvering cranes, it’s also about the crucial day-to-day administrative tasks. Whether performed in the back office or in the field, these operational activities are just as critical to the success of a capital project as what happens out on the jobsite to erect the actual structure.
Where these can become quite arduous is when they’re done manually — involving constant, time-consuming tasks such as data entry and re-entry, calculations, file management and report assembly. And all that “busy work” is costing construction companies in terms of mistake correction, quantity and order errors, and squandered opportunities for staff who could otherwise devote their time and expertise to higher priority, more productive activities.
For companies still operating with a literal hands-on approach, this is just the way things have always been done. Which may be surprising given the uptick in the adoption of construction technologies that are successfully automating administrative tasks and overcoming those “busy work” costs.
Are you considering automation to augment the essential tasks that you and your team are currently managing manually? Let’s look at five key ways it pays to go this route.
Streamlines bidding and estimating processes
One of the most logical places to begin the foray into automation is at the start of a project — the bidding and estimating phase. Because this phase sets the foundation and expectations for the project, it should start off smoothly with as much accurate information as possible.
Automated systems quickly process large amounts of data, using precise calculations that minimize the risk of human error and therefore lead to more accurate bids and estimates. Plus, much of the repetitive information and work — think cost item assemblies and common bid and estimate documentation — can be standardized, templatized and stored for future projects for a more streamlined estimating workflow.
That speed matters when it comes to bids — contractors can respond to them more quickly, giving them a huge advantage when facing the often narrow window of time to prepare and submit them.
Manages data in real time for more informed decisions
Managing every facet of the construction phase is complicated, with many moving parts and changing conditions that must be accounted for throughout the project. And managing and tracking all the data generated throughout the project’s life cycle adds a whole other layer of complexity. Construction projects are, after all, dynamic environments, with new and evolving information constantly coming in from multiple sources. That’s what makes it one of the most data-intensive industries.
To keep up with these changes, contractors need a way to manage that data and put it to work in real time. With automation, they’re able to do that.
Contractors can collect, manage and analyze large amounts of data that streamline administrative tasks that need a level of accuracy unachievable through manual means, such as monitoring and forecasting project costs and managing equipment, materials and labor resources. Thanks to real-time updates on changes and project progress that automated systems provide, contractors have what they need to make the timely, better-informed decisions that support achieving established project outcomes.
Improves task workflow with document management
For as documentation heavy as construction is, it’s no surprise lack of effective control over proliferating project documents can seriously hurt productivity.
Consider the different teams working on a project: architects, engineers and contractors; subcontractors on the jobsite; and employees in the back office. They all need access to different sets of documents at different stages for them to do their jobs efficiently. Otherwise, it slows down their workflow and impacts productivity as well as deadlines for completion of their tasks.
Document automation with document management software streamlines organizing, storing and retrieving construction files within one central location, making it easier to complete administrative tasks that depend on these key documents — from bidding to commissioning and everything in between. It reduces the copious amount of paperwork and eliminates time-consuming tasks such as manually filing — and then locating — documents.
Monitors analytics and automates reporting
Two key administrative tasks that can benefit from automation: monitoring and reporting on all that data your project produces.
Digitizing data collection and calculation does a couple of things. It improves the quality and accuracy of that data which feeds into many of the metrics contractors and other stakeholders use to make critical decisions. And it reduces the amount of time spent manually gathering and updating data by pulling information from multiple sources into one central location where it can be managed securely.
Reporting on that data becomes more consistent. Automating the number crunching, assembly and distribution of reports tells the story of project progress in real time so contractors and key stakeholders can instead devote more effort to analysis.
That means more can be done with that data. The insights into risks and project performance gained helps ensure that construction projects remain on track, quickly identifying any discrepancies between the expected and actual progress of a project. The upshot is having the right information at the right time to make the decisions and take the courses of action that are best for the project.
Maximize team productivity
Measurably improved productivity levels may be more of a by-product of any of the above benefits, but it’s worth calling out on its own.
Have you ever tallied the true cost of manual-based administrative tasks? Relying on existing employees or even hiring extra staff to do the busy work is itself a cost in terms of labor, time, paper, unnecessary computer programs and physical storage spaces, and even potential rework.
Automation instead reduces the need for time-sucking manual data entry, which lowers the potential for human error and dramatically improves data accuracy and integrity. Built-in updating and calculating saves staff from having to input the same data in multiple places or find and fix broken formulas. Hours are reclaimed from the time spent shuffling papers and producing reports. More can be done in less time, with less repercussions and at less cost.
Ultimately, automating administrative tasks that are repetitive and error-prone frees everyone up to focus on what’s more important: the strategic, productive or revenue-producing activities that benefit the project and the construction company.
If you’re looking for a way to make your capital projects run more smoothly and improve your project team’s efficiency, consider automating your administrative tasks. Schedule a consultation to discuss options that may work best for your company.
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