In this guest post, Fieldwire CEO Yves Frinault discusses three ways contractors can save time and money on construction projects — something both Fieldwire and Handle help construction contractors with!
In construction, time is money. So it’s important you work as efficiently as you possibly can. While that’s often easier said than done, especially in our industry, there are tools which exist to help contractors work in a timely manner. In turn, boosting productivity and preventing project cost overrun that’s plaguing our industry.
In fact, according to McKinsey, large construction projects typically take 20 percent longer to complete than originally scheduled and run 80 percent over budget! This is due to a number of factors, a few of which we’ll get to later.
But, before we jump into that, let’s talk briefly about construction’s productivity problem. We know that our sectors annual productivity growth only increased by 1 percent in the past 20 years. But, rather than dwell on that, we must work together to resolve a 20-year productivity lag.
As a contractor, there are three small changes you can make to save time and money on your next project, and, ultimately, improve productivity. This includes implementing cloud software, going paperless in the field, and simplifying daily processes.
Let’s jump straight to it!
1. Implement cloud software
As Xperience Group puts it, “cloud software removes the hassle of maintaining and updating systems, allowing you to invest your time, money, and resources into fulfilling your core strategies.” This is especially true for contractors who must focus on tasks that keep production moving rather than worrying about technical issues. And, that’s exactly why hassle-free cloud software is recommended.
Unlike on-premise software, cloud construction software has zero upfront costs and can be implemented quickly. Meaning contractors — young and old — can easily adapt to new software in the field and continue to work without any delay.
In addition to being easy-to-deploy and affordable, McKinsey reports that cloud-based software is particularly beneficial for construction teams — increasing jobsite productivity by as much as 50 percent on projects. McKinsey also suggests that once implemented, cloud software should be prioritized to help craftspeople operate more efficiently in the field as 80 percent of all construction work is done onsite.
But, before you start evaluating new software, you first must understand that not all cloud-based software is the same. Careful consideration must be taken to ensure that the selection made ultimately satisfies your needs and fits in with the way you already operate. More importantly, cloud software must empower you to disconnect from the trailer with only a phone or tablet in your pocket.
For example, from any device in the field – iPhone, Android, or tablet – contractors using a construction management app can access their tasks for any given day, communicate with the office in real-time, and view their plans even when they’re working offline. This way, projects continue to progress and time isn’t wasted waiting around for information or correspondence — traditionally in the form of an email or text.
2. Ditch the paper
Once you’re up and running in the cloud, you can confidently ditch the paper. Seriously, let it go. Paper is expensive, easily misplaced, and takes too much time to update.
For these reasons (and more), some of the largest contractors in the world are switching to a paperless jobsite — to save time and money on their construction projects. Graham Group, a 2.2 billion-dollar general contractor in Canada, broke away from traditional habits to embrace technology and improve productivity. As a result, Graham was able to eliminate paper copies of plans in the field, which saved them $35,000 in printing costs on a single project.
Now, instead of manually updating plans and reprinting them when a change is made, Graham use iPhones to make markups on-the-fly and view the latest version of a plan in the field; a huge-time saver for contractors and a simple way of saving time and money on projects.
Imagine how much time you’d save if all the information required to complete a task was saved on the phone in your pocket, rather than scattered throughout various paper files back in the office. Well, according to forconstructionpros.com, it’s a lot! They estimate that a total of 90 minutes per person per day is wasted looking for information in paper files; information like phone numbers, misplaced tools, parts, and jobsite directions. This annualizes to about 18,000 hours spent searching for information that can be stored in the cloud and accessed from any device at any time.
3. Simplify your daily processes
Once you’re in the cloud and embracing a paperless jobsite, you can significantly decrease the time and money you spend on daily processes like field reporting and accounts receivable management.
Take daily reporting and communication, for example. JBKnowledge reports that nearly 50 percent of craftspeople still manually prepare and process reports despite the fact that technology exists to automate this for you.
Using cloud construction management software, contractors and craftspeople can instantly create and send reports from any device in the field without the need for spreadsheets or emails. Even more, contractors can customize construction reports — daily reports, progress reports, punch list reports, and more — to suit different jobsites and schedule them to auto-send on a given day or week. This way, far less time is spent manually filling out spreadsheets and emailing them to project members back in the office.
Daily communication, too, must be simplified and streamlined for improved productivity. More importantly, it must be real-time. Why? Because in the U.S. alone, $31 billion is wasted on rework due to miscommunication which happens when workers are forced to go through various people or platforms just to deliver a message.
As Elon Musk said, “communication should travel in the shortest path necessary to get the job done.” Rather than relying on emails or phone calls to transmit information, contractors must communicate in real-time from the same place (or platform) they’re working from.
For example, using Fieldwire’s construction management app, contractors can communicate directly from within a task and attach images or videos to communicate progress, which dramatically reduces the communication cycle; enabling jobsite teams to respond quickly to change and resolve issues in a timely manner should they arise.
In an exclusive survey for ENR, McGraw-Hill found that 84 percent of general contractors and 77 percent of subcontractors prefer to use photographs (captured on mobile devices) in this way — to communicate jobsite conditions. This is because a photo takes just seconds to capture and send compared to a written update that could you take you hours. Consider making a change in the way you communicate to save time and money on your next construction project.
If you have construction workers working in different shifts, you could use an employee scheduling software for efficient employee management.
Ultimately, when careful consideration is taken and the right cloud investment is made, time and money will be saved both in the office and on the jobsite. In fact, contractors already using Fieldwire’s cloud software report saving an average of five hours each week! More importantly, they are regaining valuable time and money on projects which was previously wasted on out-dated daily processes. It’s time to embrace a digital future, work to overcome construction’s productivity lag, and start evaluating software that’s right for you today.
About the Author
Yves Frinault is a French entrepreneur and the Co-Founder & CEO of Fieldwire, a field management platform powering more than 450,000 construction projects worldwide. Yves is a graduate from the Ecole Polytechnique as well Stanford University where he holds an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Prior to Fieldwire, where he oversees strategy, product development, and engineering, Yves held leadership roles in the consumer software industry at Ubisoft, where he led development teams.