The construction sector was among the hardest hit during the recession. As the economy finally begins to emerge from those dark days, significant restructuring has left the shape of many firms unrecognisable from eight years ago. With downward pressure on costs during the crunch, many firms applied sticking plaster solutions to their construction software solutions. But as confidence starts to return, many firms are taking a fresh look at their systems to assess whether they remain fit for purpose.
While company structures have been streamlined, legacy construction software has often been left behind. Many firms have been left with processes relying heavily on departments recording information on their own spreadsheets. This information is only brought together every four to six weeks, meaning problems cannot be identified early, let alone immediately dealt with. Even when these reports are produced, it can be tricky to ensure they refer to exactly the same period of time. In such situations, profit-sapping issues are often only discovered at or near the end of a project.
Of course, software solutions have moved on considerably since 2007. The recent rise of the cloud – allowing corporate data to be stored remotely and accessed via the internet – has sparked the development of applications which make traditional spreadsheets redundant. All information can now be held on a single database, accessible by all staff, allowing the creation of one version of the truth for a project. Reports can be pulled off the system at any time, giving an instant overview of a project. Problems can be discovered and nipped in the bud before costs spiral out of control.
The use of mobile technology to access such systems enables further cost savings. Rather than staff having to return to a remote office, they can enter details of their work and costs onsite, saving both man-hours and travel costs. In addition, this means that you have a real-time record of a building project. A snapshot of the project is now instant and accurate, requiring virtually no work. Compare this with the time taken to piece together progress updates from multiple spreadsheets produced separately by different departments.
During a project, real-time data enables managers to more efficiently manage project costs and revenues. Without such a joined-up view, firms can end up wasting significant resources. A manager might have hired plant that has been sat on site for a week because another part of the business thinks that it has been returned. A unified, real-time construction software solution allows such waste to be eliminated.
Another financial benefit of such unified approaches to construction software is the ease with which managers can now access service level agreement and key performance indicator data. This will show who performed well and who did not so well across the lifetime of the project. At the end of a project, such data can be used to work out from where further efficiencies could be generated on future projects. Having a joined-up view of the progress of a project, from bidding process to completion, allows your firm to embed smarter, more efficient working practices.
If you haven’t changed your software for almost a decade then it might be time for you to ask whether you are really saving money by sticking with cumbersome and outdated systems. The question is – can you can afford not to use the latest generation of construction software?