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In every construction project, the effective flow of information between the jobsite and the office is critical; making sure all parties have access to the information they need has to be a top priority.

When silos exist between teams, the chance for internal breakdowns and errors increases significantly—this lack of communication can stifle productivity, reduce transparency, escalate risk and ultimately have a negative effect on the business in general.

According to a recent Autodesk survey, 62% of respondents identified communication inefficiency as one of the major factors impacting productivity on jobsites. PlanGrid also found that beyond communication, construction professionals spend more than 14 hours a week on non-productive tasks, such as conflict resolution, project information and rework.

While these roadblocks tend to hinder the success of projects, contractors are always looking for new ways to overcome barriers and improve field management practices. The industry as a whole has steadily gained a broader use of technology, and more aspects of project management are moving to the cloud. Through the use of cloud-based project management software, contractors can establish an environment where the field and the office are in constant communication, connected instantly anytime, anywhere.

Many key elements of project management have benefited from cloud and mobile technology advancements in construction.

Progress Reporting

For decades, manual process reporting had been the leading method in the industry. The issue is that this traditional process functions as more of a reactive system, rather than proactive. While contractors may be getting information from these daily reports, being able to make the information instantly available between the field and the office provides significant gains in efficiency.

By using a cloud-based platform, users can instead create daily progress reports via mobile app. Consider a jobsite on any given day: workers are taking photos of progress, recording observations, tracking various vendors and even tracking weather conditions that could affect the outcome of a project.

Unlike manual methods, cloud-based reporting allows for bi-directional updates between the field and the office in real time. Having all parties on the same page using one clear channel for communication should not just be a benefit; it should be a reporting requirement.

RFIs and Submittals

The time it takes to manage and answer RFIs can be costly. Moving the RFI process to the cloud allows teams to collaborate and keep better track of important documents. Having more RFIs to answer is not in itself the core problem; what causes issues is the risks associated with lack of proper tracking and communication breakdown when the information is not well organized. The use of cloud and mobile technology gives contractors an opportunity to loop subcontractors in easily.

This is also true about the design and preconstruction phase. An earlier entrance allows subcontractors to provide better design coordination, faster delivery and better pricing—ultimately better outcomes for all project constituents.

Like RFIs, submittals ensure that installation fully satisfies the critical design criteria, as well as the owner's expectations, but they can result in costs and delays when handled inefficiently. In a cloud-based environment, the entire collaborative team involved in a project has a chance to review and comment on the document. Better yet, this technology captures metadata, meaning comments, submission timing and other steps in a process that are all recorded for total accountability. 

Employee Time and Expenses

When construction companies rely on manual reporting between the field and office, important financial information starts falling through the cracks--such as employee time sheets and company credit card transactions. 

Aside from being an accountant’s worst nightmare, lost receipts and improperly coded time sheets also make it difficult for contractors to get a comprehensive view of what’s being spent. With mobile technology, employees can enter their hours as an indirect/direct labor category, assign cost codes and include a worker’s comp code. The time can then be captured as either overhead or for a specific project, scope or phase.

In terms of expense reporting, employees can upload receipt photos and choose the credit card used. All that information is directly posted against the right project reducing double entries and lowering the risk for errors.

Plans and Specifications

Besides documenting progress and navigating the plethora of documents created during the course of a project, cloud and mobile technology have also transformed the way construction professionals access plans and specs. Everyone now has access to the most current set of documents—no more pulling sets of plans or spec books from trailers on the jobsite, and no more worrying about whether everyone is working from the most current documents.

The gains provided with the adoption of cloud and mobile technology in construction are undeniable. As cloud-based technology becomes more widespread, there is a much greater opportunity for effective communication between the field and office. With so many moving parts in field management, having a dedicated tracking system keeps all parties accountable and leaves limited room for error.

Ultimately, the document control, collaboration and transparency brought about by cloud-based project management is the key to bridging this gap.


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