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Top Insights from Subcontractors on How to Be More Efficient

Top Insights from Subcontractors on How to Be More Efficient

September 25, 2019

We already know that, on average, seventy percent of a contractor’s day is spent idling: coordinating tasks, waiting for equipment, and searching for information. Meaning only 30 percent of a contractor’s day is spent doing the real work that drives productivity.

For wrench time to improve, contractors need technology that allows them to ditch paper forms and files, communicate in real-time, and compile reports on-the-fly. Most importantly, they need efficient technology that empowers them to do more with less, especially in the face of a labor shortage crisis.

To understand how best to use construction technology, Fieldwire spoke wth three contracting firms in the U.S. already leveraging mobile-first software to be more efficient in the field. Here are three best practices that you can incorporate into your day to improve wrench time, and ultimately, productivity. 

Ditch the paper plans

Imagine how much more efficient you’d be if you could eliminate paper plans onsite. You wouldn’t need to carry around bulky physical files, walk back to the trailer just to update a plan, or spend hundreds of dollars printing revised drawing sets.  

This is true for ABCO Electrical Construction & Design, which manages all of its site documentation from the phone in a pocket. From any device or location in the field, ABCO contractors can compare different plans, add markups, and view changes in real-time, even without an internet connection. 

Project Manager at ABCO Electrical, Sam Carlson, said once his contractors realized they could use an iPhone app instead of flipping through hundreds of physical files and manually updating plans at the end of each day, the adoption of construction software was immediate. 

“We have senior staff who once wouldn’t even take their iPhone onsite. Those are the guys who are now advocates for the platform” said Carlson.

Digitize and simplify reporting

While eliminating paper plans is a surefire way to boost jobsite efficiency, there’s a bunch of other paper files you need to ditch too. Think daily reports, safety audit forms, QA/QC inspection checklists, RFIs, timesheets, and T&M forms — physical documents that create headaches and slow down production.

For contractors to be more efficient, they must consolidate all of these paper forms in one place. How? Consider implementing contractor software that offers a custom form builder. This handy tool allows contractors to build, customize, and submit various forms from any device or location in the field. Depending on the software being used, some contractors will have the power to customize pre-existing forms to suit the way they already operate or build their own construction form entirely from scratch — a process that’s saved DC Electric 10-15 hours per person each week.

Prior to using a custom form builder, DC Electric wasted twenty-five percent of their day manually building forms and filling out paper reports. Thanks to efficient contractor software like Fieldwire, this process now takes them just a few minutes. DC Electric field crews can instantly log daily reports — site details, weather conditions, schedule delays, materials used — from their phone or tablet. Once they submit a report, the office manager is notified in real-time and can approve the form in the click of a button. 

As a result, DC Electric’s Business Manager, Steven Clements, said: “We’re saving 2-3 hours per day for each person on Fieldwire. The ability to have custom forms has allowed us to get closer to our goal of becoming a completely paperless office.” For more best practices on making your reporting process more efficient, check out these helpful best practices.

Communicate in real-time to connect dispersed teams

Contracting companies still communicating via paper plans, physical notes, emails, or calls in the field are not only stunting productivity but hurting profitability. In the U.S. alone, $31 billion is wasted on rework due to miscommunication and having inaccurate data onsite, according to a study lead by FMI Corporation.

For productivity to remain high and costs to stay low, contractors must be equipped with technology that allows for the real-time flow of information! For example, with Fieldwire, contractors can snap a photo of an issue, attach it to a plan or a task, and instantly share it with others — all within seconds from the field. Meaning no more back-and-forth emails that delay real work. 

Graham Group, one of Canada’s largest general contractors with over $2.2 billion in annual revenue, use Fieldwire to communicate more efficiently onsite. Graham’s Quality Control Coordinator, Stefan Gonari, said: “With Fieldwire’s real-time functionality, I can markup a deficiency on the fourth floor, go down to the second floor, get notified that the issue has already been fixed, and then verify it – all from my iPhone in minutes.”

Similarly, Ford AV was able to seamlessly connect its office and jobsite teams on one platform. Jason Guenther, Ford’s Construction Software Coordinator, said: “Each week, we have about 50 crews working in the field who collaborate with our Project Managers and Engineers in the office. The Job Superintendent can attach a photo to a task to communicate progress rather than over the phone. The Project Manager can see the photo in real-time and respond immediately to keep production moving,” added Jason. 

With projects becoming more complex and schedules running tighter, the need for fast and effective communication has never been greater. Having the ability to capture and catalog communication in real-time not only keeps production moving but enables workers to resolve issues more efficiently should they arise. 

Construction software and apps for general contractors and subcontractors are undoubtedly improving job-site efficiency. However, we know that despite having a positive impact, technology can be overwhelming at first. So here’s a quick checklist to use when evaluating contractor software for your company.

This is a guest post from Fieldwire founder and CEO Yves Frinault. Fieldwire is a leading field management solution for the construction industry.

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