How Going Digital Increases Efficiencies and Reduces Waste
Taking the guesswork out of profitability is becoming increasingly difficult within the ever-evolving construction industry. There are just too many moving parts that exist beyond the control of any one firm.
As a result, every construction business owner is on the lookout for a better way. This includes best methods for enhancing efficiencies across every work area. While strides have been made, the construction industry has been one of the last to embrace the benefits of the electronic revolution – including the shift from the “paper” world and filing cabinets filled with blueprints, invoices, change orders and every other form of business documentation.
Moving from a paper to digital business economy offers numerous advantages. First, let’s look at some basic costs. Construction expert Houston Neal once calculated that the construction industry prints an average of 37 million blueprints every year. At a price of about 50 cents for every black-and-white document printed on 20#, 18×24 paper, this translates into about $18.5 million and the death of approximately 42,000 trees. How much money does your firm spend on paper every year? Further, what do you pay for toner and copying? Do you still mail invoices to clients?
Now look at the broader picture. How often have projects been delayed or activities stalled by the inability to review change orders, blueprints and other relevant documents in real time? What challenges would be solved by the immediate access to all job-related information from one electronic source by all key company personnel? What’s the value of instantly answering owner/developer questions in the field?
That’s the benefit of the digital age. Because today’s cloud-based ERP systems store files in one central digital location, they enable real-time document review. Solutions are available that offer user-friendly access to job information from almost any device connected to the Internet. This includes “anytime, anywhere” visibility – as well as secure, permanent backup. With a few simple clicks, authorized personnel from accounting staff to project managers and field supervisors can simply drill down from the most complex to the simplest details. Boosters even exist for ensuring WiFi connectivity in remote locations.
Consider this as well. Today’s contractors, builders and construction firms live in a highly litigious environment. Every error and omission, no matter big or small, can be costly. This is particularly true when design/build methodologies are increasingly blurring the lines between professional responsibilities, and designs are constantly revised throughout every construction phase. What better way to prepare against claims than with a detailed history of key details captured during the entire project lifecycle?
One last key benefit? Today’s best enterprise construction management/accounting systems enable users to take advantage of a multi-cloud world. This means multiple business applications and services in the cloud effortlessly interact in a way that best serves individual users. Within this context, construction and development practitioners can adopt cloud platforms and applications that facilitate project management, property management, estimating, budgeting and valuation, AP processing, and document and approval management.
So, where do you begin? The search for the right technology solution should start with the leading players. This includes firms with reputations for supporting the commercial real estate field for years, if not decades. Then, ask the right questions. Develop a checklist for providers that covers everything from current customers, costs, reliability and security, to system functionality, training and ease of use. Remember that the best solutions are incorporated with partners that have a vested interest in helping your company enhance efficiencies, reduce costs, save time and increase profits.