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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.

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ERP Vs. Construction Accounting Software

What’s the difference between ERP and Construction Accounting Software?

If you’re starting to feel like your construction accounting software is reaching its limits, and you’re working countless hours trying to marry data from separate systems, it may be time to look at an ERP solution.

In this article, we’ll list the capabilities of accounting software versus ERPs, talk about some benefits of ERPs, let you know when it may be time to move to an ERP, and finally give you a couple of tips to make the transition smoother.

Construction accounting software capabilities

Most construction accounting software packages include similar capabilities. Some are part of the base software package, while others may be available as an additional service.

Construction ERP System Capabilities

An ERP, or enterprise resource planning, the software package is focused on overall business risk management. It provides a more cohesive picture of the entire business and its activities, not just the financial portion. A construction ERP system will have the following capabilities:

Benefits of ERPs

Besides the additional features listed above, ERP software packages provide several advantages over traditional construction accounting software.

Increased organizational efficiency – ERPs improve resource use throughout the company, leading to greater efficiencies, saving time and money.

Integrated systems – Data no longer has to be manually transferred from one system to another to get an overall picture of the company’s health.

Common database – Everyone in the company uses a common database to record and search for transactions and communications. There’s only one place to look for a piece of information or data, saving hours of lost search time.

Real-time data – Project team members and management have access to live data to assess situations and take proactive action when needed. They don’t have to wait for reports to be run or data to be collated.

Common user interface – Since everyone’s using the same software, everyone has a similar user experience, simplifying SOP development and training.

Ability to collect and compare metrics – 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.

A complete view of business performance – Management dashboards provide real-time data on business performance across departments and divisions, allowing managers to see patterns and interdepartmental trends.

Scalability – ERP systems are able to handle large amounts of data, so companies don’t have to upgrade again in a few years. The ERP system will grow with them.

Collaboration – When everyone is using the same system, team collaboration is improved and made easier. Members can review documents at the same time and discuss changes or action plans as needed.

When to move to an ERP

There are several signs that it may be time to move from construction accounting software to an ERP solution, like Jonas Premier Construction Software.

  1. You’re using separate databases/spreadsheets/software that requires manual data management between systems. Entering data manually into different systems increases the chance for human error and incorrect data.
  2. You’re using out-of-date information and analytics to make business decisions. Without real-time data on the status of projects and financial information, you’re flying blind when it comes to making important business decisions.
  3. Daily processes are time-consuming. If workers are spending hours performing duplicate work or searching for documents, they are losing time and the business is losing money.
  4. Your customer experience is suffering. If estimators aren’t following up with customers, or projects are getting lost in the shuffle, your customers will find someone else whose systems are more efficient.

Tips for converting to an ERP system

If you decide to convert from a construction accounting software to an ERP system, there are a couple of mindset changes that will help you embrace and get the most out of the new system.

First, the team has to be willing to try a new system and let go of the old software packages they’re currently using. If you have employees that insist on using old software, it could interfere with the ability of the new system to provide the information needed and to be effective. Ask these employees why they feel that way and what features are most important to them. Then work with your ERP provider to figure out how to implement those features in your system, if possible.

Second, the entire team must be open to making changes in their current processes to match the processes of the new system. Trying to maintain old processes with new software will only slow things down and prevent efficiency improvements.

Change isn’t easy

Making a change from construction accounting software to an ERP system shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, it’s a business decision that can save your company money, improve efficiency, and help management make better business decisions in the future. And with the right partner, the transition can be smooth and seamless. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, then contact Jonas Premier today.

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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Leveraging AI, Machine Learning, and Automation in 2021

Contractors collect a lot of data in the process of building a project. It comes from the field, office, and outside sources. Successful contractors are using this project data to improve the efficiency of their production and save admin time. Technology tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation are driving this focus and providing valuable insights that contractors can use to increase profitability.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is more than robots and droids. It describes all the ways that machines are able to mimic human thinking, like problem-solving, pattern recognition, and learning. It is now being programmed into powerful software packages that are being used by contractors to analyze and assess their projects. This intelligence is a powerful way to coordinate with team members and provide project monitoring.

AI is being used to create predictive models based on past project data. These models can be used to analyze projects for cost overruns, schedule delays, and other onsite issues. The software reviews past projects and compares them to current work to determine the similarities. From there it can predict potential problems and bring them to contractors’ attention before they become issues.

IoT devices are increasingly being used on-site to assist with safety and health monitoring. Smartwatches, cameras, and drones are able to detect worker proximity to other workers and potential hazards. These devices became more popular in the past year and a half due to the pandemic and the need to keep workers spaced out. The software was able to monitor who workers were close to, allowing for quick and easy contact tracing. It’s also possible to track where workers are on-site and to analyze work patterns to help improve productivity and efficiency.
Some contractors are using AI to better analyze their project schedules so they can more efficiently perform work and meet deadlines. ALICE is a schedule analysis algorithm, started by ALICE Technologies, that many contractors are using to assess and predict delays. It analyzes schedules by extrapolating thousands of possible outcomes and running simulations of a project’s 4D schedule and BIM. By adjusting the inputs, contractors can quickly see what effect it will have on the schedule.

Machine learning

Machine learning is a subset of AI and has to do with using statistical technology 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 machine learning and predictive analysis to assess projects ahead of time so they know the risks and can proactively manage them from the beginning of the project. This type of analysis can monitor RFIs, project issues, and potential change orders and alert contractors to critical issues.

This learning is also being used to take real-time measurements of completed work on-site and compare them to the scheduled work to determine if a project is on schedule or not. Based on the result of the analysis, the software alerts contractors to direct their resources to address the delay. This analysis can be done across a project portfolio, allowing contractors to be more effective in their crew and equipment resource use.

One application of machine learning uses visual and audio data to identify people in photos and videos and recognize if they are using the correct safety equipment, including PPE. This information is then used to notify safety officers, superintendents, and others who can act to correct the issue.

Selecting which projects to bid on and improving the accuracy and success of bids is another way that machine learning is being used to make contractors more successful. The software can analyze the results to predict which projects contractors will be most successful on and provide insight on bid successes.

Automation

Automation, or the use of technology to perform tasks, is gaining in popularity in construction. Contractors who can eliminate unnecessary work improve efficiency, saving time and money, which leads to more profits.

Construction management and accounting software uses automation to speed up data entry tasks and help prevent typing mistakes. For example, automated invoice entry in accounts payable allows workers to pull amounts and codes from commitment records and receive notifications when budget line items are over their limits. These automations help ensure data is entered accurately and cost overruns are detected and managed.

For recurring invoice entries, where the amounts and codes don’t change, automating these entries speeds up the process and ensures that costs are coded and allocated correctly. Using a template saves time by reducing the amount of data that needs to be entered, reducing the chance for errors.

When mistakes are made in invoice entry, or an invoice allocation needs to be changed, simple invoice correction helps workers quickly make the necessary changes and move on with the rest of their work. There’s no need to worry about debits and credits, as the system takes care of those entries on the backend. The goal is to make changing invoices quick and easy while maintaining the proper audit trail.

Get the right software

If you’re looking to leverage the latest in automation, AI, and machine learning to improve efficiency and increase profits, you’ll need software that can gather and analyze data quickly. Our construction management and accounting software provide teams with the tools they need to take advantage of these technologies. Click here to schedule a personalized product tour.

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