Construction is a complex business, as a number of different teams and stakeholders need to come together and work efficiently to deliver a project. The slightest delay on a task can have an impact on the entire process and lead to significant budget overruns.
In other words, every construction project is a combination of numerous systems and processes. And this is why productivity both on the job site and the boardroom is seen as one of the key components for a successful project.
If we also take into account that construction is a $10 trillion industry, expected to increase in value to $15 trillion within the next decade, it becomes clear that there is a lot at stake for the sector on a global scale.
Boosting on-field productivity can pave the way for a more profitable future in construction with less waste, lower rework rates, and fewer disputes. A 2017 plan from the U.K. government, for example, says increasing productivity in construction could save the sector £15 billion a year. On top of that, McKinsey and Company verify that, due to poor productivity, construction is currently wasting a potential $1.6 trillion a year, compared to other sectors.
These numbers suggest that when it comes to productivity, the construction industry needs to come up with some brave changes.
More analytically, there are two essential elements that 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 site.
The good news is that construction stakeholders appear ready to embrace 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 gathered more than $10 billion in investments.
This number comes as no surprise if we consider the many benefits of software and digital technologies for construction productivity. In a nutshell, here are five ways construction software can improve productivity in the field and make the construction process more profitable.
1. Real-time collaboration
Collaboration is the result of good 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’ve 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 important 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 key elements of success in a construction project. Nevertheless, a great 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 great administrative and mental burden, as there are simply too many tasks and stakeholders that should work in full coordination.
In that sense, by giving the people on site the ability to report their progress just by using a simple mobile app, you ensure that no information is lost and everyone is up to date.
Moreover, many software solutions allow users to upload photos from the field in real time. In that manner, there is even more clarity around the project, and field teams can focus on what matters most.
BIM is changing construction day by day. Many think that Building Information Modeling is all about 3-D models and nice-looking graphs, but its importance goes far beyond that.
BIM is about data, and more specifically, it’s about helping the project team ensure everything proceeds as planned from every aspect (planning, safety, quality of work, etc.). The right tool can help people in the field contribute to the project’s BIM model just by reporting progress through their mobile devices. Based on these valuable 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, everyone can focus on their tasks and be confident that all projects are on the same page.
5. Historical data
We keep hearing about the value of the cloud and digital solutions for boosting productivity in construction. But construction software means nothing if the project team can’t take care of data generated.
Globally, the construction industry produces some of the most data, but a majority of that data goes unanalyzed. The more data a project team collects, the easier it becomes to replicate its successful practices to future projects, increasing productivity and, by extension, profits.
It doesn’t take much, then, to realize that with the help of construction software, the industry as a whole could push for the standardization of the way we build and the improvement of all upcoming projects, in terms of efficiency and cost predictability.
Digital solutions can make a difference
The digital transformation of the construction industry has already begun, but we are still at a very early stage. The potential is enormous, and this will start becoming more and more evident as the sector starts to explore new areas where digital solutions can make a difference.
Anastasios Koutsogiannis is a content marketing manager at LetsBuild, the end-to-end digital platform for the construction phase.