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How construction software can boost productivity in the field

Construction is a multifaceted business, as various teams and stakeholders need to come synchronically and work efficiently to deliver a project. The daintiest delay on responsibility can harm the entire process and lead to meaningful budget overruns.

Simply stated, every construction scheme is a combination of various systems and processes. And this is why productivity both on the site and the boardroom is considered as one of the critical components for a successful project.

If we also take into account the point that construction is a $10 trillion industry, supposed to rise in value to $15 trillion within the next decade, it becomes clear there is a lot at stake for the sector on a global scale.

Boosting on-field productivity can asphalt the way for a more profitable tomorrow in construction with less waste, lower rework rates, and fewer disputes. A 2017 plan from the U.K. government, for instance, says improving productivity in construction could save the sector £15 billion a year. On top of that, McKinsey and Company confirm that, due to decreased productivity, construction is currently wasting a potential $1.6 trillion a year, compared to other sectors.

These numbers imply that when it comes to productivity, the construction industry wants to come up with some brave changes.

More analytically, two essential elements could act as a catalyst for this paradigm shift: breaking the power of habit across the supply chain and the implementation of digital tools that can help the industry bridge the gap between the office and the construction website.

The good news is that construction stakeholders seem ready to welcome that change and invest in digital solutions to get the sector out of its productivity dead end. As reported by McKinsey and Company, from 2011 to 2017, construction technology companies have found more than $10 billion in investments.

This number comes as no wonder if we consider the many benefits of software and digital technologies for construction productivity. In a nutshell, here are five ways construction software can enhance productivity in the field and make the construction process more profitable.

1. Real-time collaboration

Collaboration is the result of excellent communication between different project agents. In most cases, it reflects directly on the progress of the three- to six-week plan. One little misunderstanding and subcontractors might have to wander around the site with no purpose, unable to find the materials and equipment they have asked for.

This is an area where construction software can play a decisive role, adding more clarity to the entire planning and reporting process. Thanks to the use of a mobile device or a tablet, field teams can easily share their latest updates with the office team and highlight any issues that have emerged with the touch of a button.

The ability of different team members to communicate and exchange information in real-time would eventually keep everyone on the same page and prevent unnecessary conflicts and plan alterations.

2. Overview across projects

Often, working in construction means being involved with more than one project at a time. For that reason, it is essential to have a detailed overview of projects, to keep up with the latest updates and issues that you need to address.

Again, construction software is a precious ally to your effort in such cases. Thanks to real-time progress reporting, your team can monitor closely if all projects are proceeding within the agreed budget and deadlines.

What’s more, this will allow you to detect which project requires more assistance and attention. Just like that, you can take action before a problem blows out of proportion and create informative progress reports to share with your entire team. 

3. Reporting from the field

Staying on top of what’s happening on the job site is one of the critical elements of success in a construction project. Nevertheless, a significant amount of information can be lost if the connection between the field and the boardroom isn’t as it should be.

It is evident that progress reporting comes with a tremendous administrative and mental burden, as there are simply too many tasks and stakeholders that should work in full coordination.

In that sense, by providing the people on-site with the ability to report their progress just by using a simple mobile app, you assure that no information is missed and everybody is up to date.

Furthermore, many software solutions enable users to upload photos from the field in real-time. In that manner, there is even more transparency around the project, and field teams can focus on what matters most.

4. BIM

BIM is changing construction every day. A lot of people think that Building Information Modeling is all about 3-D models and nice-looking graphs, but its significance goes far beyond that.

BIM is about data, and more particularly, it’s about helping the project team assure everything goes as planned from every aspect (planning, safety, quality of work, etc.).

The right tool can assist people in the field add to the project’s BIM model just by reporting growth through their mobile devices. Based on these significant pieces of information, BIM managers can plan ahead and keep the BIM model up to date without worrying about missing crucial information.

With the right BIM solution, everybody can focus on their tasks and be confident that all projects are on the same page.

5. Historical data

We keep hearing about the importance of the cloud and digital solutions for boosting productivity in construction. But construction software means nothing if the project team fails to take care of data generated.

Internationally, the construction business produces some of the most data, but a majority of that data remains unanalyzed. The more data a project team collects, the easier it gets to replicate its successful practices to future projects, increasing productivity and, by extension, profits.

It does not take much, then, to understand that with the help of construction software, the industry as a whole could push for the standardization of the way we build and the development of all upcoming projects, in terms of efficiency and cost predictability.

Digital solutions can make a difference.

The digital transformation of the construction sector has already started, but we’re still at a very initial stage. The potential is vast, and this will start becoming more and more apparent as the sector begins to traverse new areas where digital solutions can make a difference.

Alma Reed is an author and researcher dedicated to enhancing productivity. He is deeply interested in areas like time management, increasing productivity, and fostering healthy routines. Through his writing, he aims to assist people in boosting their job performance and attaining an ideal balance between work and life.

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