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Industry Insight

7 Reasons to Invest in Construction Software

Technology has made sharing construction project information easier, but there are many companies that still struggle with getting information to project team members. Email has facilitated much of this communication, but it has its drawbacks. There’s no way to know if documents are the latest version and its easy for messages to get lost in overflowing inboxes.

Construction software offers an integrated solution that provides centralized data storage and management, real-time information, and easy access. Teams that take advantage of these benefits save time and money with improved efficiency, making the investment an easy decision.

Here are seven benefits that teams should consider when deciding to invest in construction software:

1. Share data

In 2020 accessing and storing data where everyone can get to it became even more important. Many companies had to quickly transition to allowing workers to work remotely or from home. Now many are looking at going to remote work permanently, meaning that access to data will continue to be a challenge that needs to be answered.

Cloud-based software systems provide a secure way for teams to share information from wherever they work. The ability to get to project information from a desk, tablet, or phone means teams can be more responsive and can ensure that they’re always working with the latest project information.

Over time many companies have developed information silos, where information flows freely within a department but doesn’t get transmitted to other areas of the company that need the same information. This is often the result when everyone uses different software. Purchasing integrated software that connects project teams and accounting means that project teams can get the cost information they need when they need it without waiting for another department to generate a report.

2. Streamline processes

As companies grow, responsibilities and processes are often developed organically. Employees do the best they can to share information, but without a view of the big picture, they often create processes without knowing why they’re doing it. While these processes may serve to get the work done, it doesn’t mean they’re the best way to do something.

Construction software can provide the structure needed to streamline processes that have grown cumbersome as the company has grown. Roles and responsibilities should be analyzed and reorganized based on the most efficient way to perform a process.

Construction management software also simplifies record-keeping and data retrieval processes. All project records can be stored in the cloud, so there’s only one place to save files and one place to look for information. Teams don’t have to search in multiple folders and software applications to find the information they need. It’s at the tip of their fingers.

3. Improve accuracy

When every department has their own software that they use for their work, sharing data is often performed by manually entering it into another system or by using spreadsheets. The Construction Technology Report for 2020 says that 49% of survey respondents transfer data by hand when integrations aren’t available. When data is entered by hand there’s an increased chance for errors or inaccuracies. Over time this can lead to significant problems in project reporting and projections.

Ensuring that all team members are working off of the most recent version of a document can be difficult when documents are shared by email or file links. Software can provide a document repository with accurate version controls, ensuring that the latest version is always available to everyone without searching.

4. Security

When files are stored on a local computer or server, or even in the cloud, security can be a concern. Access to the files may not be password-protected and the data is probably not encrypted. This means teams are vulnerable to lost data and technical issues that could prevent them from getting the information they need.

Dedicated construction software can ensure that employees have access to the data they need for their job, can’t see the data they don’t need, and ensures the security and protection of your information. Cloud-based software is housed on multiple servers and backed up to multiple locations to prevent data loss. User-level security measures also ensure that employees can only see the data they need to see.

Storing data locally also leaves companies vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Viruses can hijack computers and data, blocking workers from getting the information they need. Cybercriminals can hold you hostage until you pay their ransom, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get your information back. In the Construction Technology Report, 13% of respondents said their company had been the subject of a cyber-attack. Using a software packaged that is cloud-based and provides security will keep your data safe and protected from cybercriminals.

5. Improve efficiency

As work processes are reviewed and reorganized to better serve the company and its employees, workers are able to handle more work in less time. Software workflows increase efficiency as duplicate entries and rework are eliminated.

Additionally, when all the project information is stored in one system, employees only have one place to look for information. This saves lost time and money spent searching through emails, files, folders, and accounting records.

6. Business growth

With improved efficiencies project teams spend less time on current projects, leaving them with more time to sell new work. Companies find they are able to take on more work at the same staff level because everyone is working more efficiently and processes have been improved. Also, costs for correcting mistakes, duplicating entries, and rework are reduced.

7. Safety and health tracking

With increased need for safety and health tracking during the pandemic, project teams have been looking for ways to collect wellness screenings and other data. They’ve also been searching for ways to provide safety training and documentation without personal contact. Software can provide a safe way to gather and securely store the required information. Additional data tracking helps teams keep their records organized.

See the benefits today

Many companies hesitate to invest in software because of the steep learning curve and time needed to train employees and roll out the product. When viewed throughout the lifecycle of the software, however, these initial pains are quickly made up for in improved efficiency, more accurate data, and the ability to act on up-to-date information. Teams soon wonder how they did their work without the powerful assistance of software.

If you’re looking for a complete, all-in-one software package to run your projects and accounting, Premier Construction Software is the tool you’re looking for. Contact us for a demonstration today.

Categories
Tips & Advice

Why Tracking Progress is Essential in Construction

Tracking construction project progress in real-time is one of the biggest challenges many project managers face, largely due to using disjointed systems that don’t sync with one another to provide accurate, up-to-date information. Without having reliable data available and accessible whenever it’s needed, effective project management becomes nearly impossible. Because of this, a growing number of construction companies are shifting to cloud-based construction software due to its ability to prevent costly errors, schedule delays and budget overruns by providing a holistic overview of projects in real-time with just a few clicks.  

If you’re interested in implementing cloud-based construction software to manage your project needs, it’s important to develop a game plan that outlines your primary areas of focus so you know where to begin. 

Here are some tips to help:

Determine a central source of data

One of the major reasons real-time project tracking is so difficult is because there are multiple parties involved—e.g., internal team members, external stakeholders, subcontractors and more—who are typically all using different systems. This creates a disjointed workflow where communication is siloed, and data is lagging and inaccurate. 

Before a project begins, it’s important that project managers invest the time up front to establish a digital ecosystem where all project-related information can be stored and accessible. Using cloud-based construction software, project managers can establish a single source of truth for all project needs. This allows everyone on the project to access the most up-to-date information and to communicate back-and-forth seamlessly, providing both confidence and accountability for everyone involved.

Clearly define workflow

With so many different parties involved, it can be easy to lose track of a project’s status if the workflow isn’t clearly defined. Cloud-based construction software gives project managers more peace of mind by providing the ability to establish—and customize—workflows. Complex projects may have hundreds of steps with multiples teams involved, and most of the tasks will have dependencies that make organization and automation critical to project success. 

With cloud construction software, project managers can break out large tasks into smaller pieces to create a workflow chart that outlines deliverables and milestones required to get the project done. Having clearly defined expectations, dependencies and due dates helps get everyone on the same page to reduce confusion, mistakes and errors.

Set up task tracking

Project managers need to know the status of a project at any given moment, which is one reason why task tracking is so important. In addition to that, task tracking provides project managers with insight into how much time each team member is spending on each task to help them determine if time is being managed appropriately and efficiently. Not only does this lend to greater accountability on current projects, it also provides critical insight needed to improve forecasting on future projects.

Document everything

Documenting everything that happens during the course of a project is necessary to mitigate risk and to avoid claims should any problems arise during or post-construction. Photo documentation is becoming a standard part of the reporting and monitoring processes, which means there also needs to be a system in place as well as a central hub to store all supporting documentation. Fortunately, many cloud-based software providers offer unlimited storage options, so you can store as much as you want without having to worry about running out of space or deleting older files should any claims arise in the future. 

Integrate your systems

Managing a construction project from ideation to completion entails the use of multiple different technologies—for example, BIM, drone footage, CCTVs, and more. In order to create project synergy, it’s important to utilize a platform that can integrate multiple systems and provide a centralized hub to store all information. Not only does this help expedite and streamline some of the administrative tasks, it creates a more efficient and reliable system for project tracking. 

Conclusion

Keeping track of a construction project is extremely difficult if you don’t have the right tools to do so, and any delays or mistakes ultimately impact the project’s bottomline. If you’re interested in learning how a cloud-based solution like Premier Construction Software can help meet your project tracking needs, click here to schedule a personalized product tour. 

Author Biography:

Kathryn Dressler is a content strategist with more than 10 years of experience across the spectrum of marketing services, including blogging, social media, public relations, copywriting and editorial services.

Categories
Industry Insight

Using Construction Software to Keep Your Office and Field in Sync

In earlier blogs (linked below), we discussed various ways the COVID-19 pandemic completely disrupted the construction industry last year. And although we’ve finally put 2020 behind us, we’re still figuring out how to navigate “the new normal” and what that will entail for the future of construction. 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Construction Costs 

COVID Changes in Construction

How COVID-19 Has Shifted the Construction Industry in 2020

Despite lingering uncertainty and a lot of unknowns, it’s still necessary to develop a resource strategy for this year in an attempt to make more informed decisions and more accurate forecasting. To do so, you’ll want to start by reviewing and assessing last year’s performance metrics to develop a strong foundation for managing future resources more effectively. 

It’s important to note, however, that the ability to improve your business strategies is heavily contingent upon the reliability of your dataand herein lies one of the major benefits of utilizing Premier Construction Software. Premier’s all-in-one construction software solution features job costing, accounting, project and document management tools to ensure the data syncs real-time, making it easy for businesses to trust the data when making important business decisions.

Read on to learn about five of our core features, how they help keep your office and field in sync, and why that matters:

Job Costing

Job costing relies on accurate, up-to-date data—and that’s where we excel. Our software boosts efficiency by providing real-time, automated job costing data with complete transparency across all your projects. The comprehensive job dashboard is your hub for to-the-second job costing, and helps streamline the entire process by providing all the data you need in one place. 

Using the job dashboard, project managers can track and compare the original contract to the current costs and the estimate at completion, enabling them to make smarter decisions. Using the forecasting module, they’ll be able to account for unanticipated costs and electronically request internal budget transfers to keep the project on track. It also features sections for key performance indicators, at-risk or outdated items, approvals, and pending items.

Time Entry

Our time entry feature makes connecting your field crew to the home office easier than ever. Using our mobile app, employees can log their time in and out from the convenience of their phones. The app automatically tracks dates and times, as well as job numbers, cost items, cost types, and even occupation codes. When your employees enter their time from the field, that data routes directly to your foreman. This workflow creates a seamless, transparent time tracking process for the foreman, enabling them to stay on top of their crew. 

entering time for field construction workers in Premier Construction Software

Change Orders

We understand changes happen—and in construction, they can happen a lot. With our software, your team can send, track, and approve change orders from one convenient place. Upon approval, the software automatically uploads the signed change order to the system with the updated status. It also saves you time by auto-generating progress billing lines, as well as creating and emailing subcontract change orders and purchase orders. Your reports benefit as well, as approved change orders update them automatically.

Document Management

Sometimes the quickest way to get everyone on the same page is to share a document. With Premier’s document management system, you can create customized document folders, making important documents easy to find and share. Every folder has customizable security settings, enabling you to grant safe, secure access to those who need it. And because we offer limitless storage, project managers can quickly and easily refer back to former document versions and track the entire history of a document. 

Compliance Tracking

Premier makes it easy to manage compliance documents across all of your construction projects from one dashboard. You choose which documents to require, update statuses instantly as they come in, and upload them to the document management system for safekeeping. You’ll receive notifications for missing, expired, or soon-to-expire documents and drill down to get to the bottom of it. You can also program the system to automatically place the invoice on hold or initiate a hard stop until there’s a resolution.

Getting Everyone on the Same Page 

While we can’t predict what the rest of the year will hold for the construction industry as a whole, you can utilize construction management software to make more accurate project planning and estimating predictions.   

To learn more about how Premier Construction Software can help get your office and field in sync, click here to schedule a personalized product tour.

Categories
Tips & Advice Trends & Technology

5 Tips for Successfully Implementing New Software

Implementing new software can be difficult, time-consuming, and stressful. Planning ahead with the employees that will be affected by the change will help everyone feel more comfortable with the process.

The keys to successful implementation of software are listening to your team and maintaining an open line of communication. From there, it’s a matter of being realistic with your goals, starting slowly, and not being afraid to change course when problems occur.

1. Listen to your team

Listening to your team members, especially those that will be most affected by the new software, is vitally important to the implementation process. You’ll want to get feedback regularly from everyone about how the process is going and any concerns they have.

When starting software implementation, listen to your teams concerns and even fears about the process. They may wonder how it will affect them individually, how much additional work they will be expected to do, and who they should go to for help. Listening to these concerns and addressing them in your implementation plan will help build trust and teamwork.

Work with your team to develop goals for the process as well as a timeline for when implementation will be completed. There are several steps involved in implementing a new software program, and you want to make sure you have enough time for each one. Also take into consideration the fact that everyday work needs to continue throughout the implementation process. This may mean that you will need to hire additional help on a temporary basis to keep things running.

Throughout the implementation process and once the software has been rolled out, make sure that you encourage your team to provide feedback. This feedback will let you know how successful the process has been, as well as directing any changes that may need to be made.

2. Provide consistent communication

Be open in your communications to your team. Let them know the good and the bad about the implementation process. Keeping everyone informed will help to dispel rumors and prevent incorrect information from being broadcast throughout the company.

Provide regular updates to your team on the progress of implementation, how you are doing in regard to reaching your goals and the proposed timeline, any setbacks, and any changes that have been made. Being completely honest with your team will continue to build trust and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

3. Be realistic

When setting the timeline for the implementation process, be sure to include time for training and testing the software, reacting to setbacks, and addressing how the day-to-day work will be done while the team is working on the implementation process. Training and testing often take longer than expected, so be sure to include some additional time here. Planning for setbacks and how you will address them will help your team feel more prepared to deal with potential problems.

Goals for the process should be realistic as well. Be sure to start with a small group of employees who will get trained on the software and begin implementing it. Once you see if the test was successful, then you can roll it out to the rest of the company. This testing phase allows you to work out the bugs and develop standard procedures that everyone will follow once it is rolled out company-wide.

Include time for changes or potential setbacks. Not everything will run smoothly the first time you do it. You may find that you need additional resources or need to revise how you’re doing things in order to match the software’s workflow. Building time for changes into your schedule will reduce the stress on the team.

4. Don’t be afraid to change course

During the testing phase, if you find that something is not working the way you expect it to, address it as soon as possible. Start by contacting tech support or your customer service representative to see if there is an answer. If the software can’t address your problem, brainstorm with your team about how you want to handle it. Be open to all potential solutions.

Once the team has provided ideas on how to solve the problem, make a team decision on what your next step will be. If everyone buys in to the next step, it will avoid miscommunication and keep the team more cohesive.

5. Start slowly

When implementing new software, it’s best to start with a small group or one department within your organization. This will allow you to test the processes of the software and learn how to best perform the work. During this testing phase you can make changes to your workflow to improve efficiency.

The test group should work to develop standard operating procedures for the rest of the team. This will help with training the additional members of the team and providing structure for the work.

Don’t roll out software too quickly. Make sure the test group feels comfortable with the processes and the performance of the software, then invite everyone to use the new procedures. The test group can then be the experts that everyone can rely on when they have questions.

Continue to improve

Once the software has been rolled out and everyone is using it, keep the lines of communication open so you can receive feedback from your team about the performance. This feedback will allow you to make changes to your processes, upgrade services, and address potential problems before they become widespread. Continuous improvement in your processes will improve efficiency and accuracy, saving you more time and money.

Change can be scary which is why with Premier Construction Software, our implementation team will be there to hand-hold you throughout the 6-week implementation process. We’ll schedule a business process meeting prior to the start of your training sessions to ensure we fully understand your business needs at the start of the process. When your team is ready to go-live, your team will receive a copy of their personalized business playbook to refer to anytime.

To learn more about how to get started, schedule a call with our sales team today.

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Industry Insight

Compliance Documents You Should Be Collecting from Your Subcontractors

Before you begin working with a new subcontractor, there are several compliance documents you need to collect from them. These documents, like proof of insurance and copies of contractor’s licenses, help reduce risk on construction projects. The documents are often required by the contract with the owner, or the GC may be requesting them as per their own subcontractor agreement.

The goal of collecting these documents is to ensure that the subcontractor will complete the work in the manner specified in the contract documents, and to protect the general contractor and owner from potential costs or damages caused by the subcontractor. GCs want to ensure that the subcontractor will be around to finish the project, will provide quality work, and that they have the necessary insurance and bonds to cover any damages that might happen during the project.

We’re going to look at what compliance documents are and let you know which ones you need to be collecting and tracking for your subcontractors.

What are compliance documents?

Before we get into what documents you need to collect from your subcontractors, let’s take a moment to understand why these compliance documents are important. Compliance documents are documents you request from subcontractors to show that they meet the minimum requirements to work with your company. They help ensure that a subcontractor meets the legal requirements for being in business, as well as any additional requirements your company may have.

Every company has different documents that they require from their subcontractors. Usually, these requirements are contract-driven, so be sure to review their contract for specific requirements. There may also be project-specific documents that need to be gathered. If so they will be specified in the contract with the project owner.

We’re going to start with the essential documents that you should be collecting from all of your subcontractors, and then list some that are optional but may be required.

Essential subcontractor compliance documents

These documents should be collected from every subcontractor on every project.

Contractor’s license

There’s nothing more important than verifying that your subcontractor is licensed to work in the state and city the project is located in. Not all states require licensing for subcontractors, so be sure to check the regulations first. Licensing ensures that the sub has insurance coverage, usually a small bond to cover disputes and claims and that they are registered to work in that state. For trade contractors, licensing also ensures a level of knowledge and education. Once you’ve checked to see if a sub is licensed, make sure the license stays in good standing by regularly reviewing it. This ensures that the insurance policies and bonds remain current.

Insurance certificates or proof of insurance

There are two types of business insurance that all subcontractors should have: general liability and workers compensation. These policies protect the business in case of theft, damage, or if one of their employees gets injured. You may also request proof of automobile insurance if the sub has their own vehicles. Things to look for include ensuring that the policy has not expired and that it has the appropriate claim limits as per your contract. Your contract may also require that your company be added as an additional insured to the sub’s policy, so make sure that is noted as well.

W9 form

All subcontractors should be providing you with an IRS W9 form. This form lets you know the type of company the sub is (corporation, LLC, sole proprietor, etc.), as well as their tax identification number or Social Security number if they are an individual. You’ll need this information for end of the year reporting and sending 1099 forms to those subs and suppliers that qualify.

Project bonds

Some projects, mostly government and public ones, may require performance and payment bonds. Not all GCs ask their subcontractors to bond back the project, but if you do, you’ll want to get a copy of these bonds for your files. You’ll need proof that the bonds were issued, as well as the specific bond information in case you or the project owner have to make a claim.

Optional subcontractor compliance documents

Your company may choose whether to collect and review these documents. If you do require them it should be included in your subcontractor agreement.

SDS / MSDS

Some general contractors require that all subcontractors turn in their SDS (safety data sheets) or MSDS (material safety data sheets) as part of their compliance package. MSDS are required to be on each job site when a contractor uses chemicals or hazardous substances. These are often job-specific as each project requires different products. Subscriptions to MSDS services that provide a website or telephone number to contact to get information can substitute for providing paper documents.

Safety policies

Every subcontractor should have a safety manual or set of safety policies that they institute on their projects. Some GCs require subs to send those policies in so they can be reviewed to verify that they comply with the general contractor’s requirements. Some of the key policies that need to be reviewed include fall protection, personal protective equipment (PPE), silica protection, and health policies. With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that these policies meet CDC and OSHA requirements has become even more important. All subcontractors need to comply with these requirements when it comes to health checks, PPE availability, and record-keeping.

Keeping it all organized

It’s imperative that contractors track the receipt and expiration of these documents to ensure that their subcontractors are in compliance at all times. GCs should develop a system for verifying, recording, and following up on missing or expired information.

Accounting software packages, like Premier Construction Software, can help by tracking insurance and license expiration dates and providing automatic notification when they are expired. This makes compliance tracking easier by centralizing the data and providing notifications, allowing contractors to be proactive in tracking down information. This helps GCs ensure that their compliance information is up to date, reducing project risk.organizing construction project files with Premier Construction SoftwareTo learn more about how you can streamline your document management process, schedule a call with our team for a live demonstration.

Author Biography:

Dawn Killough is a construction writer with over 20 years of experience with construction payments, from the perspectives of subcontractors and general contractors. Dawn has held roles such as a staff accountant, green building advisor, project assistant, and contract administrator.  Her work for general contractors, design firms, and subcontractors has even led to the publication of blogs on several construction tech websites and her book, Green Building Design 101.