Getting information to and from the field promptly requires linking all aspects of your technology stack. Yet, only 18% of construction and engineering companies report that they have full integration of their construction technology. That’s a huge drag on communication, and all the manual information pushing in the world won’t fix it.
The resulting communication chaos happens when you miss important issues and get little to no visibility into their context and sources. It usually means you aren’t accurately capturing and tracking field information. With people not kept in the loop, they’re not seeing where new risks are introduced, creating delays and rework.
If you want to get it all linked up, you need a reliable tech solution that offers a cloud-based platform to get rid of existing information silos.
Select a technology provider that offers a single source of truth.
Siloed information creates roadblocks to sharing. People often can’t find the information they want or don’t even know it exists. That divides people into information haves and have-nots, with your field team largely in the latter category.
However, leave the wrecking ball behind when setting out to overhaul your information silos. You need to handle them with care to avoid losing important information.
If you have silos, chances are you are using a lot of single-point solutions. Maybe you have one app for the project schedule, another for the budget, another for estimates, etc. You’ve likely cobbled together methods for sharing information among them.
In moving past this model, you might select a technology provider that offers a single source of truth for project management with application programming interfaces (API) for your estimating, accounting, and legacy software. As you migrate to a platform solution, do so in stages. It is the best solution to preserve your legacy information. With your platform up and running, move functions to it based on your assigned priorities.
Construction projects are dynamic, and so is the information that runs them.
One minute the job site is bone dry, and the next, there may be a downpour. That change in conditions means materials stacked outdoors might get ruined. If the crews working inside receive an alert of the pending storm, they can move the materials inside or cover them, ensuring they’re secured. The latest information can be forward-looking.
When information is free to move, and people in the field know that it exists, you get the most current information to the field by having it in the cloud and available on mobile devices.
Sometimes it might feel that getting information from the field is like pulling teeth. When dealing with your own people, perhaps not so much since you know them and there is mutual trust. With other project participants, though, it can be more challenging.
That’s because construction delivery methods have historically pitted participants against each other instead of fostering collaborative environments. But, what happens ‘out there,’ beyond the confines of the job trailer walls, is the heartbeat of the project. A general contractor needs a wide range of information and data from the field to do their work effectively.
Smart GCs start every project breaking down barriers to information sharing. Sometimes, it only takes a meeting with participants where the GC shows their openness to collaboration. Other times, it takes a plan that focuses on the critical information needed and tactics that engender trust. Distrust lies at the heart of resistance to sharing information.
When you invite project stakeholders to use your cloud-based project management system, you not only empower them, but you also show your openness to collaborate and that builds trust.
Want issues reported immediately? Make it easier to report them.
In any given hour, there are potentially multiple issues needing a GC’s attention to keep the project on track. If you want issues reported quickly, make it easy to report them. Your technology partner should include multiple ways to set up issue reporting. Think about all the potential issues as well as where and how they come up.
A late delivery can happen anywhere on site. A mistake in previous work can happen anywhere. A safety incident, a quality control deficiency, and all manner of issues happen across the site, even in places where people aren’t even working. You need issue reporting via mobile devices, and your technology partner needs to make that possible.
People need to be able to create a form on the fly or snap a photo, attach text and send it. At the office, you want to instantly link the issue to the portion of the drawings where it occurred. When your tech solution lets you channel all these potential inputs to a dashboard, reporting function, or to immediate-response notifications, the issues get the response they need.
Nobody wants to spend their time doing things that don’t get results. If you have people filling out reports, and they never see how it benefits the company, or them, they simply do the minimum. Even worse, they may cobble together something to fit the requirement.
The best motivations for filing accurate and timely reports are reporting options that make it easy and knowing that the reports get used for something important. With the right technology partner, you have tools that help people get their reporting done quickly and easily. Sometimes, it even makes reporting enjoyable and creative.
Once you are actively receiving and responding to reports from the field, you start seeing changes in the accuracy and timeliness of incoming data. As you parse the data, you find ways to improve working conditions, responsiveness to issues, and project outcomes. This isn’t lost on the people doing the reporting, who can see the results of their efforts. They start to value the process and their role in improving the project and the business.
Capture key data that you can use again and again.
Once you have connected mobile devices, the cloud platform, and responsible reporting, you quickly see that you are getting a lot of information that can help with the current and future projects. Just having people track their time by job codes will show crew productivity. You can use that information when you estimate the next project.
Machine downtime, variances in lumber costs per supplier, and safety incident reporting provide key information you can use again and again. Your technology partner should provide robust analysis tools.
You need integrations so you can pull historical data from across the platform. Real-time progress reporting allows you to analyze the places where you can improve performance in both schedule and budget.
By using graphic connectors between data elements that allow you to filter and test outcomes, your analysis gives you a view to the future. Your clients will really like the advanced reporting that lets them see into project levels they’ve never seen before. In fact, they might just find places where they can improve their own operations.
Getting your information sharing into a circular pattern resembles the act of communicating. Both the office and the field send and receive timely and high-quality information, and your technology provider should be able to provide the tools to make it happen.