Construction field management is a complex and intricate task that can make or break your organization. Effective field management helps get work completed on time, boosts profits, and keeps your customers happy. That means you’ll grow your reputation, earn repeat business, and increase your operational efficiency, completing even more jobs per year than you previously thought possible.
Mobilization is one of the best ways to improve your field management practices. Mobile software that connects the field to the back office is the best means of facilitating communication throughout your organization, helping your workers find the solutions that are required to stay on top and avoid making costly mistakes.
This article talks about the benefits of mobilizing construction field management. We’ll show you how training your team to make the most of mobile devices and construction field management software can positively influence project outcomes for your organization by helping you save time, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction.
Minimize the Cost of Errors and Omissions with Mobile Communication
Errors and omissions are a big deal in the world of construction, owing to the uniquely complex nature of the industry. Projects can be very large, involving tens or even hundreds of tradespeople, managers, and other laborers, and it can be very difficult to plan projects down to the finest details. The more complex the project, the more likely it is that an error will occur, or that a critical detail will be overlooked in the design process.
Mistakes in design are costly for two reasons. First, when your workers build something that contains an error, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to tear it down and start again. That means wasted materials, wasted labor, and the rest of it. On top of that, if you’ve contracted someone to do the work, but mistakenly omitted some requirements before the quoting process, the contractor is entitled to a change order where they’ll often mark up labor by as much as 25%.
Communication between the field and back office via mobile devices allows contractors to consult with project managers when they feel an error or omission has occurred, instead of just completing the installation and having to rip it out later. Errors are commonly noticed in the morning when the job site foreman is looking at drawings and assigning work – these can often be addressed with a note to the architect or project manager, preventing costly reworks and change orders from ever happening.
Use Mobile Solutions to Manage Labor Costs
Many construction firms are still using out-of-date time sheets to keep track of labor costs and compensate their workers. Workers are required to keep a time sheet that indicates what days they reported to the job site, their arrival and departure times, and total hours worked. At the end of the week, time sheets are submitted to the firm’s accounting or payroll department.
Timesheets have been in use forever, but mobile technology offers a superior alternative in the form of electronic time tracking. Workers who report to the job site are required to “clock in” on a mobile device using a time tracking software that is accessible from the construction firm’s back office. At the end of the day, the workers clock out in the same fashion, and an accurate record of their hours worked is immediately generated in the application’s memory.
Construction companies can even establish a GPS checkpoint at the job site, which prevents workers from clocking in when they are absent from the site, and mobile technology can be used to monitor the movement of workers on the job site, allowing project managers to remotely assess productivity.
According to an anonymous survey of retail and service workers, 80% of employees admit to committing time theft, and companies who adopt electronic time tracking systems routinely report payroll savings of up to 6% – that could mean thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars on a large project. There’s also buddy-punching – when workers clock in or out on behalf of others, allowing someone to arrive late or leave early without your knowledge. With all that said, instituting an accurate form of time tracking with full accountability is guaranteed to yield a positive return on investment.
Electronic time tracking simplifies the process of calculating and administering payroll, reducing the workload on your back office and freeing their time for higher-value tasks. They won’t have to manually enter hours for each employee, as the hours will already be electronically recorded and correctly formatted.
Finally, human error is absolutely a reality in the world of payroll and accounting – if you’ve ever written or received a check for the wrong amount, you should know that this is true. A shifted decimal place that’s left uncorrected could seriously impact your bottom line, so why risk it? Electronic time tracking helps to minimize accounting errors by generating accurate data that can be used directly in payroll with no possibility for a calculation catastrophe.
Keep Track of Paperwork and Change Forms with Mobile Construction Technology
You’re a construction foreman on a residential construction project where your firm is building 20 new homes from the ground up. You’ve got foundation to pour, tradespeople installing utilities, framing to complete, and a slew of other tasks, and you’re running on a tight schedule. The client approaches you and asks for a relatively minor change to one of the homes – how will you keep track of that change and process it through the appropriate avenues?
You could go ahead and fill out a paper change order, but that needs to be approved by the project manager, and there’s no guarantee that it will be. You’ll have to take it to the office later on that day. As the day progresses, a thousand other challenges present themselves and the change order is lost, forgotten, or both. The change never gets processed and the customer is upset.
Alternatively, you can use mobile technology to create an electronic change form that will be sent directly to the project manager. You discuss the change with the customer, maybe create a drawing or take a few photographs, fill out the forms, and upload them to your company’s construction management system through your mobile phone. Within minutes, you’ve got a response back from the project manager – the change is something we can do and a quote is included. The client accesses the system and electronically signs off on the change – now the client is satisfied and your workers can implement the change.
This is just one example, but the reality is that busy workers are always liable to forget things, and many change orders are lost every day for just that reason. Invariably, either the change is made but your firm never gets around to billing for it, or the change is never completed and the customer wonders how you survive in business while being so disorganized.
Mobile technology helps you keep track of any paperwork or documentation generated in the field, offering immediate storage in cloud-based systems that are accessible to everyone involved with the project. You’ll significantly reduce the turnaround time for processing change orders, and you’ll never again lose a critical piece of documentation.
Mobile construction management has numerous advantages that can make the difference between success and failure on a given project. Connecting the field with the back office facilitates a high level of communication, ensures that workers have access to the information they need to get the job done, creates accountability around the time tracking process, and helps your workers keep track of documentation and minimize paperwork errors.