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5 AI Solutions Construction Can Implement Today

Is the future of the construction industry already here?! With continued growth in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in other industries, why hasn’t construction followed suit? The industry continues to lag behind many others in the adoption of new tech, including AI, robotics, and machine learning.

In 2018 McKinsey posited five then-current technologies related to AI that construction could implement from other industries. Three years later, most of these are still science-fiction more than reality, but for how long?

1. Optimize project planning

Existing technology in the logistics industry allows delivery drivers to optimize their route planning to account for both distance and traffic. AI analyzes for the shortest route with the least amount of traffic to cut delivery times. The technology continues to learn through reinforcement learning, commonly called trial and error, the best way to go the shortest distance.

In construction, this technology could be used to analyze and assess project schedules to optimize them for the shortest time and best use of resources. By running thousands of alternatives, the technology could provide options that humans hadn’t thought of to perform the work most efficiently. AI could learn from past project data and over time correct itself with the best resource combinations and alternatives to speed up project planning.

2. Forecast risks and constructability of design

Pharmaceutical research firms are using AI to reduce R&D costs by predicting medical trial outcomes. The software uses predictive AI solutions to improve products without the additional cost of intermittent testing.

In construction, this technology could be used to forecast risks, predict constructability, and the structural stability of technical solutions during the planning stage. By testing for structural stability and constructability ahead of time, in the virtual world, it’s possible to save big bucks during the construction process. The technology can also be used to test various materials, limiting downtime during inspections.

3. Supply chain coordination

AI can currently be used to reduce downtime and oversupply of shipments in a supply chain. It also can be used to increase the predictability of shipments. This reduces costs, logistical burdens, and supply variability. We certainly could have used this technology during the recent construction material shortages.

As modular and prefabricated construction gain popularity, there will be an increased need for enhanced supply chain coordination. These types of construction rely on just-in-time deliveries, which can be more easily achieved using AI. The technology will also help control costs and overall cash flow.

4. Robots and 3D printing

Robots and 3D printing are already making waves in construction. They are being used by a few teams to provide affordable housing and reduce costs and project schedules. From this knowledge, researchers have trained robots to learn from simulations and used machine learning to replace software programming.

Robots are being used to construct panelized buildings and components for prefabricated and modular projects. The ability to use machine learning could shorten the timeframe even further and allow robots to quickly move from one task to another without lengthy programming.

5. Quality control

In healthcare, machine learning is creating opportunities to diagnose illnesses earlier through image recognition. The technology detects known markers for certain conditions to provide early diagnosis.

Using drone imagery and 3D models, the same technology could detect potential defects and help with quality control. It could notice anything from potential catastrophic failures to finish blemishes and alert the team in real-time.

Conclusion

While no one knows what the next technological breakthrough in construction will be, it’s safe to say it may come from one of these five technologies. All are using technology, machine learning, and AI to predict the future or inspect current work for future problems. By engaging technology early in the design and construction process, teams are saving time and money, as well as assuring the safety of building occupants.

Interested to hear more on AI? Jonas Premier can assist you with more information on how AI can empower your business to work smarter.

Visit our website or schedule a call with our team of professionals at Jonas Premier today for a complimentary walk-through of our simple and easy-to-use software.

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.

 

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6 Advantages of an ERP Over a Standalone Construction Software

Is it time to ditch your standalone project management software? Are you spending more time transferring data from one system to another? Can you get real-time data from your system?

If you’re looking for real-time data that’s easy to access, centralized, scalable, and that allows you to see the whole picture of your business, it may be time to move to an ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution, hint, hint Premier Construction Software.

1. Streamline processes through one system.

 

Instead of entering data in multiple systems (project management, estimating, accounting) why not enter it once? With an ERP the data is automatically transferred into the appropriate system for tracking and informational purposes. This saves time and money wasted on entering data multiple times so it will get where it needs to go.

For example, let’s follow an RFI through a standalone system: The RFI is written in the project management software, and a response is logged. Say the answer requires additional costs, so a potential change order is written and sent through the project management software. Once it is approved and has been returned as a change order, then the cost data has to be extrapolated and entered into the accounting and estimating software.

With an ERP solution, the entire process is handled in the project management software and automatically transferred to the accounting and estimating systems once the change order has been approved.

2. Reduce errors and mistakes made during data entry.

The more times data has to be entered by hand, the more chances there are that a mistake will be made. Typos and other errors can lead to incorrect information being used to make project decisions. A single typo can affect an entire project report as the data flows through the project records:

AP invoice – Payment – Commitment – Cost Report – Project Budget

And when these types of errors are found, teams can spend hours searching for the correct information, wasting valuable time.

With an ERP solution that is based on automation, like Premier, amounts are automatically transferred into the system directly from the source, eliminating the need for human data entry. This helps ensure accuracy and prevents mistakes.

3. Everyone works from the same data.

With a centralized data center that houses all project information and documents, there is increased opportunity for teamwork and collaboration. Everyone is working from the same data set and can see the same information at the same time. There’s no waiting for reports or gathering data from multiple systems. An ERP streamlines data collection and organization, making finding project information simple and easy.

When everyone in the company uses a common database to record transactions and communications, searching through them becomes easier. There’s only one place to look for a document or specific piece of data, saving hours of lost search time.

4. Easier to scale for future needs and growth.

Standalone project management software can only grow so much and only offers so many solutions. Because it isn’t integrated with other systems, its usefulness is limited to the field. An ERP, like Premier, has a wider variety of tools available, due to the integration of data across functions. You may not use all the features of an ERP at the time that you purchase it, but it provides the opportunity to add on the functionality later. This helps improve the depth of your reporting and your analysis of the data on your projects, which leads to more accurate estimates and reduced costs.

5. Real-time data is available when it’s needed.

In an ERP solution all project-related documents, reports, and data are available to anyone on the team, based on their permissions. This allows teams to collaborate and make proactive project decisions based on up-to-date, real-time data. There’s no waiting for a report to be generated, transferred into a spreadsheet, or missing documents to be found. Instead, project teams can act on information before there are problems, saving the owner and the company time and money.

6. See the whole picture.

An ERP dashboard allows project managers and management to see the whole picture of the company, not just one project at a time. They can review trends in the data regarding project profitability, overhead expenses, and productivity. This is information that isn’t available from a standalone project management solution.

The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning allows ERPs like Premier to actively predict problems ahead of time, so managers can act before issues occur. They can also track metrics and make assessments based on performance across departments or project managers.

Managers across departments can pull reports at any time to compare the information with other departments or gain new business insights. Data relationships may be discovered that hadn’t previously been noticed due to data silos.

Conclusion:

We know change is hard,
which is why we make switching software easy.

Premier Construction Software works with contractors to streamline their systems and transition to an ERP solution. ERPs offer a streamlined process, reduction in errors, centralized data, scalable growth, real-time data, and the ability to see the whole picture. Connected strategies like ERPs integrate data from the field and the office, keeping everyone informed and allowing teams to be proactive in their decisions. Premier is more than just financial construction software, we’re built to help your business.

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Why Go Digital? The Future of Construction Management

The construction industry has traditionally been slow to adopt the technology. Many of its work processes are legacy solutions from decades ago, like spreadsheets and yellow notepads. Today’s workers are stuck in the process of trying to digitize an industry that has been stuck in the analog world for many generations.

However, contractors are beginning to realize that they no longer have a choice when it comes to embracing technology. Now it’s a race to decide who will be the first adopters to bring the industry into the future.

We’ve put together five reasons why construction companies need to go digital today.

Why go digital?

Save time and money

Many contractors run several software systems simultaneously – one for estimating, one for project management, and one for accounting. These systems often don’t talk to each other, and each system becomes its own information silo, creating obstructions to the flow of information. Each software system provides information, but it’s difficult or impossible to share that information with the other systems.

Companies soon develop workarounds like entering data by hand from one system to another or using spreadsheets to provide the information everyone needs. Some software systems allow data sharing through import/export, but it still takes time to capture the data, download it, then upload it to another system.

When workers have to manually enter data, there’s an increasing chance that mistakes will be made. Inaccurate information can lead teams to make wrong decisions that can have a profound effect on the financial success of projects over time.

All-in-one software packages create workflows that allow project teams to share data between departments without resorting to workarounds that can cause errors and lost productivity.

Attract a younger workforce

In order to attract younger workers contractors need to upgrade their tools to the latest technology has to offer. You don’t have to be on the cutting edge, but there’s a lot of tried-and-true technology that construction has been hesitant to implement. Companies need to adopt tech more readily to match the skill sets, education, and training future workers are receiving.

Construction management students are learning project management and documentation using the software. These packages make tracking correspondence, submittals, and RFIs much easier than using Excel and other legacy software. If contractors don’t adopt these tools, they could be losing the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest in new talent.

Integration is key when it comes to estimating and material takeoffs. Too many companies rely on outdated software or manual methods to create estimates and perform takeoffs. That data then has to be entered into another software system once the project is approved. Younger workers don’t understand why these systems are separated when there are so many options for integrating them.

Harness the power of new technology

New tech, like AI, machine learning, and automation are changing the landscape. Artificial intelligence (AI) is more than robots and droids. It describes how machines are able to mimic human thinking, like problem-solving, pattern recognition, and learning.

AI is being used to create predictive models based on past project data. These models analyze projects for cost overages, schedule delays, and other potential issues. The software looks for similarities between past projects and current work, and from there it can predict potential problems and bring them to the contractor’s attention.

Machine learning is a subset of AI and uses statistical techniques and calculations to understand project data and gain insights. As more data is added to the machine learning model, the software is able to assimilate the information and refine its predictions in current situations. Contractors are using both machine learning and predictive analysis to assess projects before they start so they know the risks and can proactively manage them from the beginning of the project.

Automation, or the use of technology to perform tasks, is also gaining in popularity in construction. Construction management and accounting software systems use automation to speed up data entry tasks and help prevent errors. For example, automated invoice entry in accounts payable allows workers to pull amounts and codes from commitment records and get notified when budget line items are over their limits. This automation helps ensure data is accurate and cost overruns are detected and managed.

Streamline your operations

With business growth responsibilities and processes are often developed organically. Employees do the best they can, but without a big picture view, they often create processes without knowing why. These processes certainly get the work done, but it doesn’t mean they’re the best way to do something.

The software can provide the overall structure needed to streamline processes that have grown cumbersome over time. With software as your guide, roles and responsibilities can be reorganized based on the most efficient way to perform a process.

Using an all-in-one system also simplifies record-keeping and data retrieval processes. Project records can be stored in the cloud, so now there’s only 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 24/7.

Manage/control risk

Construction management software can help teams mitigate many of the risks found on a project. Although it can’t address all potential risks, it can speed communication and document what’s being done to proactively address issues.

Project management software allows teams to see and address overdue tasks and documents that may delay the project. Teams can run reports that show outstanding items as well as who is responsible for those items. The software can also track health checks and other safety-related inspections that are required in today’s world. This daily reporting allows team members to see the status of various items and predict potential problems.

Having a central hub where documents are stored is a must, given the number that is created and distributed during a project. Document storage, version control, and distribution are easily managed by project management software, ensuring everyone is working from the latest documents and has access to them from wherever they are. The same is true for project correspondence. Team members have only one place to look when it comes to searching for an email or notice. All communication is tracked and documented within the system, and specific items can easily be recalled in minutes.

Having an integrated system where costs are instantly updated in the field allows teams to respond to potential budget issues quickly. Project managers can manage the project budget and costs from the site, without having to request information from the office.

Digital is changing the construction world

While the outside world and other industries transitioned from analog to digital several years ago, construction has always been behind the times. It’s only now that the industry has begun harnessing the power that has been available for decades. Tomorrow’s workers are better prepared for this change and are sure to lead the effort. See how smoothly Jonas Premier can assist you and your team in the process of going digital. Visit our website or schedule a call with our team of professionals at Jonas Premier today for a complimentary walk-through of our simple and easy-to-use software.

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.

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Tips for Using Construction Software to Improve Performance

Construction companies upgrade their construction software for lots of reasons. One of the main reasons being to improve, you guessed it, performance. This includes being more profitable and more efficient, both in the field and the office. There are many ways to improve performance working with construction software, including choosing the right software, getting an ERP solution, changing processes, gathering data, and using analytics.

1. Get the right software for your business

One size software does not fit all. Before selecting construction software for your company, you need to do research to make sure you’re selecting the program that is best for your company. Get something too simple, and you’ll quickly outgrow it. Get something too complex, and you’ll never use it properly or understand what the data is trying to tell you.

Start by assessing your current system, even if you’re still using spreadsheets. Determine what’s missing and what information you wish you had. Shop around and look at multiple software options. Don’t rush this process or you’ll quickly be overwhelmed by all the information you receive. Look for software that allows for flexibility and growth in your company and the data you collect. You’ll want to be able to grow into the software and still have it serve you several years down the road.

Choose the software package that best suits your needs and gives you the most options for additional data collection. Some software packages target specific contractor types or are better suited for certain trades. Choose one that fits your company and the work it does, both now and into the future. Choosing the right software lays the groundwork for improving your performance and improving efficiency.

2. Get an ERP

An ERP software program, or enterprise resource planning, offers companies a holistic view of their operations and finances. In the construction world, it combines project management and accounting into one solution that is linked by data. This type of software solves a critical missing link in construction – it links the office to the field. Information entered in one area can be immediately seen by the other, making real-time decision-making possible.

ERPs have several advantages over standalone accounting software, including the ability to see data in real time, integrated data, and a larger view of company performance. All of these allow management to assess and act on trends in the business. They can spot problems both in the field and the office and proactively address them.

3. Don’t be afraid to change

New software often brings new processes. No software program does things the same way as another, and companies need to be flexible in changing their processes. Using the software’s process will improve efficiency and avoid extra work. It can also allow for additional data collection, which can be beneficial in assessing productivity.

New software provides the opportunity to learn more about the company and its processes through the collection of additional data. Even though the company hasn’t collected certain data in the past doesn’t mean you can’t learn from the information.

4. Gather data

Data is key when it comes to improving performance in construction. By being able to gather data from both the field and the office, management can assess performance companywide and make improvements to increase efficiencies and improve performance. Without this data, management must rely on anecdotal evidence and assumptions about what is happening on site.

When companies gather more data, they have an opportunity to learn more about the company. With limited information available, management has to make assumptions to fill in the gaps. But with concrete information coming from the field, management can monitor both growth and performance in real-time, allowing them to make better decisions.

5. Use analytics

Analytics help companies predict future outcomes based on past events. The more data the company has available for analysis, the better the predictions are. Since construction software allows for the collection of data from the field and office, analytics can provide insight for both areas and allow project managers and company management to make better strategic decisions.

Analytics can predict incidents and problems ahead of time, like forecasting the possibility of safety incidents depending on the type of work being performed. This proactive response helps prevent problems and allows companies to improve performance and increase efficiency.

Conclusion

If your company is looking to increase efficiency and improve its performance, construction software is a key part of that journey. Start by making sure you have the right software for your situation by assessing multiple options before deciding. If it makes sense for your company, select an ERP solution that connects the office to the field. Don’t be afraid to change your internal processes to match the software’s procedures. Gather as much data as you can and use analytics to help you predict outcomes for your business. Premier Construction Software has all the tools you need to improve your key performance measurements. Contact us to request a demonstration.

To learn more about how you can improve performance with a construction software, 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.

 

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5 Tips for Successful Construction Software Implementation

For those of you who might just be starting off in the construction industry or have even been in the construction game for quite some time – implementing new construction software is a tough task for any team. While we try to make the transition process as easy as possible here at Premier Construction Software, there’s no getting around the amount of work that’s required. However, there are some things you can do to make the transition process smoother and as pain-free as possible. Here are 5 tips to help make your construction software implementation a success!

1. Clean up your data

There’s no reason to transfer inaccurate data to your new software system. It’s a waste of time and money to deal with data you don’t need. Cleaning up your data before you begin implementation will save you time in the long run.

Start by reviewing all of your data for accuracy. You’ll want to make sure everything is as accurate as possible before transferring it to the new system. If adjustments need to be made, make them in the old system, so your data in the new system is clean. For example, write off all your bad debt before transferring your accounts receivable balances.

The next step to cleaning up your data is to delete or inactivate old customers and vendors. If there’s been no activity in more than a year, it’s safe to delete or inactivate them. You can always add them back to the new system.

2. Be willing to change your processes

Each software system has its own workflow. Trying to implement an old workflow with new software is not efficient. Most software workflows are designed for efficiency and to ensure that the data gets where it needs to go. By circumventing the prescribed workflow, you’re adding time and frustration for your employees.

New processes can bring efficiency and effectiveness to your data processing. Work with the processes in the software until the software is fully implemented and you understand the system. Then, if the process still doesn’t work for you, you can change things.

3. Test new features with a small group

When bringing new features online, it’s best to test them with a small group of employees first before rolling them out to everyone. Choose the key employees for that feature or your most adaptable workers to be guinea pigs.

Use the small team to test the process and work out the bugs before going live to everyone. Gather feedback from the team and adjust your process or software set up as needed to improve efficiency. Work with customer service for your new software to develop the best workflow for your company.

4. Communicate

You’ll want to maintain an open dialogue with the initial testing group and the team implementing the new software package. You’ll need honest feedback so you can adjust processes or software setup to get the most from your investment.

You’ll also want to keep your whole team updated on the status of the implementation. Let them know when you expect to roll the new software out and how testing is going. Everyone will want to know when and how they will be affected by the new program. Don’t keep them in the dark.

5. Persevere

Remember that any change will bring growing pains. Employees may get frustrated when they don’t know how to do something, tasks may take longer, and information may be difficult to retrieve for a while. Most of these inconveniences will fade away as workers gain experience with the software.

During the implementation process you may be tempted to go back to the old system but remember that change is messy and doesn’t come without some growing pains. Keep persevering, knowing that the rewards won’t be immediate, but they will come. Everything will take longer in the beginning, but as employees learn how to perform tasks and retrieve information, efficiency will improve.

Conclusion

Implementing new software is a process that takes time. Have patience with your team and try to implement as many of these tips as you can, and you’ll have a better experience. Clean your data, be willing to adjust your processes to fit the software, use a small group to test new features, and communicate and persevere. If you do all these things, you’ll have a smooth transition and be up and running live in no time.

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.