The case for a digital construction enterprise
The construction industry has always been all about mobility. Yet many contractors continue to hold on to paper processes that keep employees — and project information — unnecessarily tethered to the front office.
The widespread use of mobile devices and cloud-based software, greatly accelerated by the pandemic, is now essentially forcing construction companies to find better ways to share information quickly, remotely and securely. In short, there’s a strong case for why every contractor should build a digital construction enterprise.
Identify your objectives
A digital enterprise is simply a company that replaces paper processes with electronic methods. Doing so allows you to get mission-critical information to every team member and project partner in a format that they can easily access and use. When you stop relying on paper methods and remove hard copies from the process, you can condense the time spent completing tasks and cut costs to minimize profit leaks.
Take daily timecards as an example. When collecting paper timecards and manually inputting them into a computer, it can be challenging to decipher employees’ handwriting and easy to make costly payroll mistakes. With labor-tracking software and apps, accounting staff don’t have to process the payroll themselves. Instead, timecards are sent wirelessly from the field, allowing office employees to clearly see punches in and out, activities performed and job locations.
In a similar vein, when everything is logged and filed digitally, accounts receivable staff don’t have to spend time tracking down invoices, and accounts payable personnel don’t have to search for receipts in a cluttered desk or file cabinet. Wasted time is wasted money.
The environment and paper costs are two more factors to consider. Office waste tends to consist largely of paper — which is not only expensive, but also destructive. When discarded, paper rots and emits methane gas that’s about 25 times more damaging than carbon dioxide. Switching to digital tools helps to reduce paper waste as well as cut printing and mailing costs.
Find the right solutions
When you buy a digital solution, you’re investing in three things: the technology itself, the specific product and the vendor that will support it. This is why researching technology purchases carefully and with a feasible budget in mind is so critical.
The vendor is particularly important. Hold detailed conversations with each vendor’s sales rep, customers (if they provide references) and anyone else who can provide insight into the company and product. Many vendors have converted to software-as-a-service subscription models, so be sure to fully understand the pricing structure and whether the cybersecurity measures meet your company’s requirements.
For instance, when looking for a construction accounting solution, make sure the software delivers industry-specific workflows and is designed to minimize manual input and override duplicate entries. Optimal software should provide a 360-degree view of your business anytime, anywhere, from any device and during every phase of a project.
Don’t go it alone. Bring in the employees who will use the software regularly and involve them in the purchase process. As you research and demo various products, focus on whether your construction company truly needs and will use the software.
It’s also important to choose a scalable product that you can continue using even as your business and operational needs change. Having technology that will work whether your construction company grows or contracts is crucial.
A scalable system should have a customizable infrastructure that enables the solution to accommodate an expansion of operations, data, resources and customers. By the same token, it needs to allow you to scale back during times of uncertainty.
Cloud-based software and storage technology typically provides great flexibility. Many vendors allow you to adjust the number of users and add or subtract modules as your company’s needs change. The cloud also eliminates administrative burdens, as there’s no hardware to install or maintain and the vendor provides software updates and customer support.
Assemble the right mix
The construction industry is experiencing a bit of a tech boom — with innovative companies providing niche solutions across the supply chain. That means savvy construction business owners and their leadership teams can choose from a wide menu of solutions to find the right mix. Contact us for help identifying your company’s specific technology needs and forecasting the costs — and cost savings — in play.