Business

Executive Insights 2024: Leaders in Construction Technology

Industry leaders in construction technology answer some of the year's most direct and complex questions.
June 1, 2024
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Business

What are a few of the biggest avoidable financial mistakes that construction companies make?

John Rosch

North American Sales Manager

Explorer Software

John Rosch Headshot

In the dynamic world of construction, avoiding these three common financial missteps is key to ensuring project success and profitability.

First, failing to establish a detailed budget to measure budget-to-actual performance for each project is like setting sail without a map. Taking time to set separate budgets for each task and diligently charging costs to the correct cost codes are equally important. Think of this as your compass to track where every dollar is going, ensuring you’re on the right path.

Second, not scheduling check-ins along the way can hinder project performance. Regular discussions with project managers, ideally monthly, serve as checkpoints to understand the project’s performance, allow for course-correction and provide a clearer picture of the cost-to-completion. It’s also a chance to see if early profitability forecasts provided hold up or fade.

Third, relying heavily on Excel for reporting is not recommended. Data entry in Excel can be laborious, and without real-time updates, its static snapshots fall short in a dynamic environment like construction. Be sure your construction accounting system is equipped with advanced job-costing and real-time reporting functionalities to sharpen your project analysis. Your system should not only visually present data, but also allow you to delve into specifics, pinpointing exactly where performance dips. Aim to spend less time building reports and more time analyzing them.

With the right strategies and tools in hand, guiding your projects to profitability will become a much smoother ride.

What are the telltale signs that your current construction software isn’t getting the job done?

Tyler VanWinkle

CEO

Tractics

Tyler VanWinkle headshot

To help run your civil construction business you invested in top-notch management software to help streamline operations and keep projects moving. But is it getting the job done? Below are a few signs to look for when evaluating your management software.

Out-of-Date: Outdated software with clunky interfaces and slow performance can negatively impact a project’s progress. If your construction software looks and feels old, lacks the latest features and updates, it’s probably time for an upgrade.

Dead-End Data: Effectively using real-time data is crucial to all aspects of a project. If your software can't efficiently utilize your data, it's a sign. Integrated platforms help remove the roadblocks and speed bumps to keep projects running smoothly, minimizing errors and delays.

Questions: If crews are more lost than busy, asking questions about tasks, schedules, timesheets or equipment assignments, you have a clear sign your software isn’t streamlining communications as expected.

Lost Not Found: Project notes, photos, archives and reports are either not easily found or completely lost. They may reside in a separate application. Disorganization is a sign your software isn’t an integrated platform, isn’t effective and could be causing costly oversights.

Off Track: When equipment goes missing, maintenance is overdue or scheduling mishaps lead to equipment idle time, your software isn’t tracking your fleet like it should.

Geo-Fails: If your geo-fencing features are more like suggestions than strict boundaries, leading to unauthorized access or inefficient site management, your software needs help.

Some construction-management products perform as promised. They may show some signs, but nothing you can’t work past or around. But, if you’re done with the workarounds, it’s time to step up to a more modern, comprehensive, user-friendly management platform.

What is the potential risk to a contractor that does not have formal cybersecurity policies and procedures in place?

Thomas Dearnley

CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP)

The construction industry is considered one of the highest risk industries to be targeted by ransomware attacks because cyber criminals see the sector’s reliance on computer programs like computer-aided design, building information modeling and cloud-based tools for collaboration as vulnerabilities. In addition, many construction companies either have limited or no cybersecurity plans and also haven’t trained their employees to identify cyberattacks. Cyberattacks can take many forms, most commonly being ransomware, fraudulent wire transfers and/or data theft which can all lead to significant business interruptions, loss of assets and/or reputational damage. Contractors should take immediate action to assess their own cybersecurity policies, working with a professional to determine if they have the right policies in place to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks. Some common risk-mitigation actions include access management, data governance and security, daily secure backups, as well as education and training, including cybersecurity regulations in contracts and implementing an incident response plan.

Given the shortage of skilled labor, how can contractors augment their workforce with technology?

Joel Hoffman

Director of Product Management (Construction, Field Service and Property Management)

Acumatica

Joel Hoffman headshot

Broader labor shortage issues are particularly acute in the construction industry. Contractors and project managers need to creatively adopt best practices and the latest innovations to meet increasing business complexities. Simply put, contractors need to use technology to do more with less.

It starts with leveraging modern business management solutions with project management automation features—eliminating manual processes and freeing workers for higher order tasks. No-code capabilities empower process-management experts to modify and automate workflows, resulting in further efficiencies without having to ask developers for help.

These robust business solutions also turn siloed applications and disparate systems into a single source of information and data. This enables firms to enhance collaboration, connect every worker to the right information, instantly link employees in the field to the back office, and improve decision-making with analytics and business intelligence capabilities. With everyone on the same page, businesses and workers are more productive.

Beyond these vital collaboration and efficiency gains, contractors can also rely on the latest technology to attract younger workers and upskill current employees. About 1 in 5 construction workers are 55 or older, and retirement rates are a concern. Younger workers are digital natives who grew up with technology and expect to see it in the workplace. Having the latest technology in place is vitally important to attracting and retaining younger workers. Technology can further be used to upskill workers, facilitating information sharing between experienced workers and digital natives—democratizing knowledge and promoting new skills for the entire organization.

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