If there’s one thing 2020 taught the construction industry, it’s that flexibility is everything. Having the ability to make changes, adapt, and stay organized is important. It’s even been the cornerstone of the success for many companies through these challenging times.
But just how much has COVID changed construction? And how are the most adaptable companies keeping track of these changes? Read on to find out.
COVID’s biggest impacts on the construction industry
The Coronavirus Pandemic affected the construction industry in some profound ways. Many of these impacts are changing the way the industry operated for many years. It’s hard to tell if any of these changes will be permanent. However, construction companies and personnel need to adapt to them now.
Job site safety
It wasn’t that long ago that job site safety meant wearing a hardhat and fall protection. Now it means so much more.
Construction sites across the world are adapting to strict social distancing guidelines. Workers must stay six feet apart from each other. If they can’t stay clear from one another, they need to don PPE. Also, bathroom facilities need constant attention to remain sanitized and safe.
One of the biggest changes has to do with personnel. Employers are telling employees to stay home if they aren’t well. Until now, sick days were scarce in this industry.
The amount of time it’s taking for some projects to complete has more than doubled since the pandemic began. Regulations shut many job sites down for months at a time. This downtime cost builders and owners lots of time and money.
Many supply sources closed down as well. With job sites closed, suppliers from small shops to large chains had to make decisions. Many found it better to shut their doors and furlough employees. When suppliers re-opened, they found a backlog of orders to sort through.
All these factors have added up to increased timelines and scheduling conflicts. Owners, general contractors, and project managers need to adapt to keep projects from derailing completely.
One of the rather unexpected changes to come about from COVID is the materials shortage. When authorities let sites reopen, many contractors found themselves struggling to source materials.
The lumber industry took a hard hit from COVID. During the shutdown, many lumber mills and logging operations had to shut their doors as well. Coupled with the fact that most homeowners were off from work during the best DIY-months of the year, lumber started flying off of the shelves.
Trucking was also affected by COVID. It drastically increased the amount of time it took to get materials to a job site or supplier.
When construction sites reopened, it was clear that there weren’t enough supplies to go around. The supplies that were available were as much as twice as expensive, potentially destroying the profit margins on most projects.
All these factors add up to some expensive and significant changes. Increasing safety measures, extending deadlines, changing suppliers, and shopping for alternative materials are all changes that no one was expecting before the pandemic.
So how do you survive it?
How to stay adaptable with the right technology
If there’s one way to survive all of the changes that COVID has thrown at us, it’s through adapting. The construction industry as a whole is reluctant to change. But, adapting to new policies, practices, and tools is important. They could be the difference between surviving and allowing tight margins to swallow your company or project up and spit you out.
The best way to implement these changes is to embrace technology. The right construction software will help you adapt and overcome these changes. You’ll be able to focus on the job at hand while streamlining your administrative work.
One way to stay nimble during the pandemic and any future changes the industry may experience is to use effective forecasting software.
Many contractors think of forecasting as a long term strategy meant to identify trends, but forecasting is much more. While it is extremely effective at identifying trends, forecasting has an immediate benefit. It shows you how changes you’re dealing with now will effect your project as it moves forward.
One example of how effective forecasting software can help you navigate these changes might be purchasing PPE for a project. If you’re on a project that now requires increased PPE, your profit margin may be in serious trouble. Inputting the cost of your PPE into the right software can show you its impact across the length of a project.
That same software can show you where you’ve come under budget, allowing you to shift some cash. By having a good grasp on your project with forecasting software, you can make adjustments in real time. You’ll be able to cover the increased cost of PPE instead of scrambling to find funding for the rest of the project.
You can run this same scenario with increased materials costs, timelines, or any number of other changes that you need to stay on top of. Forecasting is the best way to understand how these changes will affect your project.
To learn more about how you can forecast with Premier Construction Software, you can schedule a personalized product demonstration here.
Change Order Management
If you haven’t seen a major increase in change orders during the pandemic, it’s coming. Projects simply cannot go as scheduled right now. Materials are short, projects are over timelines, and budgets are less than stable.
Software that handles your change orders can save owners, general contractors, and project managers a lot of time in front of the screen. Automatic generation for budget shifts and external change orders means less human error.
Project managers and general contractors can also send change orders to their customers electronically. They can then receive an approval with an electronic signature within minutes.
These same programs can also keep track of proposed change orders and budget transfers. Owners and project managers can use it as a road map that shows them where the project stands, how it got there, and where it’s headed.
Cost Plus Billing and Time and Material Billing
The materials shortage and increase in costs are changing how many contractors structure their contracts. Instead of shouldering the costs or submitting change orders for approval, many are opting for Cost Plus or Time and Material Billing structures.
While both of these structures protect the contractor’s bottom line, they can be a challenge to put together on a large project. The right software can do it for you, automatically generating reports and payment applications. You can even set markup percentages by trades and material markups automatically.
Providing detailed and transparent payment applications means your customer will have fewer questions. Good software keeps your accounts receivable organized and easy by removing the hassle of billing.
For more answers on how Premier Construction Software can help you with your Cost Plus billing or Time and Materials billing, click here.
Adapting to changes during COVID
Change is hard, and the construction industry resists it all costs. However, resisting these changes can cost you everything. Implementing new policies and tools, while staying nimble and alert to the status of your projects and profit margins might make all the difference.
We don’t know when the pandemic will pass or what its permanent effects will be on the construction industry. However, there are lessons worth learning; best practices change, and flexibility and fluidity are key. The industry’s adoption of streamlined tools and technology could be the most important COVID-related change to date.
Tom Scalisi has over 15 years of experience working in the trades. Since moving to full-time freelance writing, he has developed a passion for helping construction companies grow. He enjoys teaching contractors how technology can streamline their businesses and educating them about their rights during payment disputes.