Categories
Tips & Advice

Is Manual Data Entry Costing Your Business? Why Automation is the Solution

If you think that investing in software to automate your systems will cost you more money than doing everything manually, you’re not alone. Many businesses operate under the assumption that paying for automation is more expensive than paying people to do things. The truth is there are hidden costs to doing things by hand, and those costs can significantly affect your bottom line.

We’re going to look at the hidden costs you may not realize you’re incurring by doing your data entry manually. The magnitude of some may surprise you.

1. Increased error rate

Workers entering data manually, without verification, can have an error rate as high as 4%. That means for every 50 entries, two are wrong. In an experiment in 2009, it was shown that data entry workers made up to 10.23 errors when entering data from thirty spreadsheets. This is the nature of human data entry.

When errors involve money, the stakes are high. These errors could lead to over-and underpayments, over-and undercharging customers, disruptions to the accounting and auditing processes, and may lead to financial trouble. Data entry errors have cost companies millions of dollars.

2. It takes time

Manual data entry takes time. The average typist can perform 10,000 to 15,000 keystrokes per hour. Depending on the amount of data and its form, it can take even the fastest typist hours to perform data entry. If the data requires comprehension or analysis before entry, this slows down the process even more.

It could take a competent operator between 8 and 10 minutes to enter 400 units of data. This may not seem like much, but if the volume of data is high, it can cost your company valuable time that could be spent on other workflows, like analyzing the data.

3. Can’t focus on important business tasks

With so much time spent ensuring that the data entered is correct and finding and fixing errors, there is no time left to work on the business. Managers spend their time ensuring that the data they’re reporting is accurate and less time actually analyzing that data. A survey found that 37% of manufacturing professionals don’t trust the reliability of manually entered data when making strategic decisions. If you can’t trust the data you’re getting from your team, how can you grow your business or take on additional work?

4. Inhibits business growth

When management receives data, it often makes decisions based on that information, whether it’s correct or not. These decisions may inhibit the growth of the business. For example, a costly mistake can lead managers to believe a project is over budget when it’s not. They then make moves to cut company spending to protect the company, when instead, they should be investing in future growth.

5. Hidden costs

Most companies think automation costs more than entering data by hand. The truth is there are hidden costs to entering data manually. There’s the obvious labor to enter the data, then more labor to check for mistakes, and more labor to fix the mistakes. At each level, it becomes more expensive and time-consuming to detect and correct mistakes.

It has been shown that incorrect data can cost companies up to 30% or more of their revenue. In particular, a 2018 Goldman Sachs report stated that the direct and indirect costs of manual paper invoice processing are $2.7 trillion for businesses around the world. The hidden costs of manual data entry can be enough to make or break your business.

6. It’s boring

Continually spending days or hours doing mindless data entry can lead to employee dissatisfaction and turnover. When workers spend hours keying in the same information, they are bound to lose focus, which increases errors and leads to frustration. Data entry work is repetitive and tedious. 55% of employees in a survey cited the collection, uploading, and synching of data as the least productive part of manual data entry. When employees don’t feel productive, their morale lowers and they are then more prone to make mistakes.

Automation is the solution

How can companies save themselves the time and money that is lost through manual data entry processes? Automating as much as possible is one way to recoup these costs. By using machine learning and automation, the software can automate much of the data entry process, leading to fewer mistakes and speeding up the process.

Premier Software uses AI, machine learning, and automation to speed up invoice entry and other repetitive tasks, so you can spend time working on your business and less time entering data. For a demo of how our automation works to save you time and money, schedule one 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.

 

Categories
Industry Insight Resources Tips & Advice

Automate & Standardize Construction Compliances

Contractors know the value of staying in compliance with their contracts and their customers – it can make or break the relationship. Keeping up with compliance requirements and ensuring that customers have all the information they need can leave those contractors without an organized process scrambling.

Developing a process, standardizing it, and using automation to carry out routine tasks improves efficiency and saves money. But you may wonder, how do you do this?

So, what is contract compliance?

Let’s start by getting clear on what contract compliance means in the construction industry. Contracts require certain documents and information from contractors so that project owners know that they are operating within the terms of the agreement.

There’s an almost endless list of items that could be requested in a project contract, and each contract is different. Contractors have to provide the requested information and documentation to ensure the owner that they are meeting the requirements, not only at the beginning of the project but throughout its life.

Here’s just a shortlist of information that may need to be communicated to a project owner to ensure compliance:

  • Licensing
  • Insurance
  • Bonding
  • Credit information
  • Background check
  • Union agreement
  • Lien requirements and notices
  • Safety and health information

Ensuring that these documents are received by the owner, meet the contract requirements, and remain up to date with all your clients can be difficult if you aren’t tracking them in an organized fashion.

Here are some suggestions to get started on standardizng and automating your contract compliance process.

1. Create a process

The first step to automating and standardizing your contract compliance process is to create one if you don’t have one already. If you already have a process, document it so everyone knows what it is.

The steps in a contract process may include:

  1. Contract intake and review
  2. List items that need to be sent for compliance
  3. Review list for any items you don’t already have
  4. Obtain/collect compliance documents
  5. Sign contract
  6. Return contract to client
  7. Review requirements regularly for ongoing compliance

Depending on the specific compliance requirements, more steps may be needed. Make the process as simple as possible but recognize that it needs to be flexible as well.

2. Define roles

Now that you have the process written down, you’ll need to define who is responsible for taking care of each part. Steps can be assigned to departments or specific employees, depending on the size of your company.

For each step in the process, define what needs to be done, who is going to do it, and when it will be completed. It’s important to set deadlines for the completion of tasks, as contracts are often time-driven, and you need to ensure that you’ll meet the deadlines listed.

Be sure to include a way to deal with new documents or new requirements that you haven’t come across before. As situations and conditions change, contract requirements will as well. Assign someone to research the new requirements, as well as assign the task to the appropriate department or employee.

Once the process has been written up and all the steps assigned, distribute the information to everyone involved in contract management. Everyone needs to know who will be performing each role and how long they have to perform it, so they can keep each other accountable.

3. Automate as much as possible

Once you’ve created a standardized process for contract compliance, automation is the next logical step. Instead of wasting time finding and collecting paper documents, use technology to expedite the process. Automation helps streamline processes, which will save your team time and improve efficiency. And the chance for human error is reduced when compliance tasks are automated.

Construction management software can help automate your compliance processes. Online document storage and notifications can help ensure that you stay in compliance with your customers.

4. Periodically review and audit the system

On a periodic basis, you should review the system and audit the results to ensure that you are maintaining compliance with your customers. Talk to the employees involved in the process and look for gaps or areas that continually get bogged down. You’ll also want to review the current status of compliance over all your contracts to ensure that the system is working effectively.

Once you’ve completed the review and audit, assess the overall system to see if it is working and if it’s effective. If there are changes that need to be made, implement them, and then review the process again after a while. Continual improvement will help ensure that the process remains effective.

5. Remain flexible

COVID has taught us that we have to remain flexible and ready to pivot at any time. Contract requirements can be changed in an instant, and new requirements are added all the time. Meet with your compliance team regularly to ensure that the current processes are meeting the needs of the contracts and make changes, as necessary.

Start the process today!

The first step to standardizing and automating your contract compliance process is to write it down. Then assess it to see if it’s effective. Assign roles and responsibilities so each step is covered. Then, find out how technology can improve your efficiency by automating as much of the process as possible. Software, like Premier Construction Software, can track expiration dates and prompt you to request new documents as needed, and provide online file storage so your whole team has access to compliance documents from anywhere. Reviewing and improving your compliance processes ensures that your company is always running at the peak of efficiency.

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.

Categories
Trends & Technology

Strategies for Ditching the Paperwork in Your Construction-Based Business by 2021

With the recent changes in how we work, going paperless has become a necessity. The days of everyone working together in a centralized office may be gone forever, so we need to adapt.

Construction companies are particularly challenged when it comes to going paperless, mainly because we deal with so many documents and files. Keeping them updated and making sure everyone has the documents they need when they need them is difficult in the best of times. Now that we’re separated and many are working with smaller teams, it’s become even more complicated and difficult.

We’ve got five strategies to help you go paperless and increase your team’s efficiency. But first, we need to look at why it’s a good idea to go paperless.

Why go paperless?

project manager with archive documents

Because you have to. With face-to-face meetings and project visits canceled due to the pandemic, virtual documents are now the only way to go. Since everyone’s working from home or remotely, handouts for a meeting don’t make any sense. Besides, passing out papers at a meeting is risky as it might potentially spread the virus.

Accessibility. Since teams are working remotely with only small office staffs, there’s no central place to store documents. A virtual document hub gives all workers the ability to get the information they need. If your data is stored in the cloud, it’s much easier for employees to get the documents they need from anywhere, at any time.

Improved efficiency. Employees don’t have to spend hours searching for a document they need when it can be looked up in the project management software or cloud-based storage system. Files are stored securely and can be organized for easy retrieval.

Good for the environment. Saving on printing and paper costs is not only good for the company, but it also helps save the environment. These savings are good for a company’s triple bottom line.

Transition to a cloud-based filing system

The first step to reducing paperwork is to transition to a cloud-based file storage system. This can be a stand-alone system or can be integrated into other software that you are using. Stand-alone systems are often free with limited storage capability. A free account is a good way to test the product and make sure it’s a fit for your company.

Using a cloud filing system offers several benefits. These systems reduce the need for email communication, as files are accessible by anyone on the team. Since so many of us are overwhelmed by the amount of emails we receive each day, it’s easy for important items to get lost in our inboxes. A cloud system will reduce the chances of losing important correspondence.

Team members can also instantly access any information they need through a cloud-based system. There’s no waiting for someone to send a file, let alone find it. And they know the information is always up to date.

Files are available anywhere any time when they’re stored in the cloud. All you need is a tablet, laptop, or even a smart phone and you can view and even edit them as needed.

Use project management software

Laptop displaying a reporting dashboard for a construction project managers

Construction project management software allows project teams to organize documents and files and send correspondence easily and quickly. It keeps all the records of a project in one secure location and organizes them for easy search.

With all project files located in one handy location, there’s no searching emails or folders for just the right file. When combined with cloud-based storage, teams have access to all project documents at any time.

Getting current information, from the status of documents to cost reports, is key when managing construction projects. PM software allows team members to get status reports on submittals, RFIs, or the budget status with a quick inquiry.

Integrate accounting and project management software

When a company’s accounting software is integrated with their project management software, project teams can get up-to-date cost reports instantly. This access allows them to analyze the project from wherever they are without having to ask the office for a certain report.

Often project managers have to ask accounting to give them the latest cost report so they can complete their cost projections and know where they stand on the budget. When the software platforms are integrated, there’s no wasted time or energy waiting for a report so they can complete their projections.

Integrating accounting software also saves time and improves accuracy, as an entry to one system updates the other and there’s no double entry. This helps ensure that project records are accurate and current.

Use electronic signatures

Using electronic signatures reduces paperwork by allowing team members to quickly approve or sign a document from anywhere. There’s no printing required, and any electronic device can be used to provide the signature.

Using electronic signatures to sign change orders and agreements in Premier Construction Software

Electronic routing of documents also allows for tracking who needs to sign a document next. With this information, teams can quickly determine who needs to do what next to move a document along.

Update hardware

With everyone working remotely, you’ve probably already updated your hardware, but it’s still worth mentioning. Make sure that everyone on the team has the appropriate hardware in order to access documents and files electronically. This means everyone should have a tablet or laptop that they can use. Desktop computers don’t allow for mobility, making them less useful when going paperless.

You’ll also need to make sure everyone has access to internet and Wi-Fi so they can retrieve and download files, as necessary. Large documents or drawings can be difficult to download on a cell signal.

Paperless is here to stay

With the five strategies above, you should be able to take your construction business to paperless operations. It requires patience and determination to make any new system work, so take it slowly and begin with just one or two project teams. Once all the bugs are worked out, you can roll the new process out to the rest of the company. Easing communication between project team members will improve work efficiency, reduce rework, and increase project quality and profitability.

 

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.

Categories
Features

Stay Organized with Document Management

To be organized in business is to take forward previous experiences; to anticipate the unexpected; and to be prepared for what is to come. It’s no secret that this is also a recipe for success. To be organized may not guarantee success, but it makes achieving it much more attainable.

In construction, organization means having everything you need from contracts, drawings, emails, photos, compliances and even receipts when and where you need them, no matter the job site.

Whether building from the ground-up, or interior builds, a construction firm requires so much more than just the tools of the trade to be successful. It requires an organizational system that keeps everything from administrative documents to inspection reports, customer reports, invoices, contracts, change orders, estimates and so much more, in one place that can be accessed anywhere, at any time – in the office or on any given job site – via the Internet.

This integral document management system is available with the Premier Construction Software.

 

Fast and at Your Fingertips

For MAX Construction Inc., a full-service tenant finish general contractor company in Denver, CO, Premier’s document management has become a primary tool in day-to-day operations and a “one stop shop for all company data”.

Alex Szollosi, President of MAX Construction, has developed a complete system of 24 folders per project that ensures all files are ready when required—before, during and after a project—using Premier’s document management system.

The document management folder, what I like about it, is that it offers us the ability to store everything on the job in one location. We are using one product and we are finding everything we need – whether it’s accounting or project management.

Equally as important as ensuring that PM’s have real-time reports, Premier’s document management provides immediate access to anything required for a project, and even date stamps and tracks full version control.

“The flexibility of being able to create your own folders makes it one of my favorite features. The unlimited storage is not offered by many competitors”.

 

Efficiency & Focus

Staying organized is key to the success of a job. So is staying focused. Being able to access files wherever and whenever, from any device keeps projects moving forward. Things do not get held up because you’re waiting on paperwork, approvals or signatures. Everything is automated and real-time. All documents generated from Premier automatically tag and index saving you time. Users can easily drag and drop any outside documents including legal, HR, certifications, resume, emails, bids etc. Best of all, you can secure folders and share any documents with external users such as customers or investors.

It’s a product that any contractor who has a lot of work would want to use because they don’t have to go searching through file cabinets, or run down to storage lockers for drawings to have to reactivate a job. With Premier I have all that information in front of me.

Centralize all of your company’s content. Make it available anytime, on any device. And have unlimited use and storage. That’s what the document management feature in Premier Construction Software provides. And that — is a recipe for success.

 

For more information on Premier Construction Software and to speak to a representative, click here.

Categories
Industry Insight

Jonas Premier & Enterprise Software: Industry Leaders in Construction Management Solution

Both Jonas Premier and Jonas Enterprise Construction Software, industry leaders in construction management software, providing construction software solutions built for the construction industry, have both been named to Capterra’s Best Construction Management Systems List. Jonas Enterprise and Premier, together comprising Jonas Construction Software, are the only fully integrated construction software solutions to make the list.

Capterra’s Best Construction Management Systems List is based on three main criteria: ease of use, customer service, and the overall rating. The list represents the top reviewed construction management systems based on these measures. Jonas Premier, who is ranked third on the list, attained an ease of use score of 4.5/5.0, a customer service rating of 5.0/5.0, and an overall rating of 4.5/5.0 based on 25 reviews. Jonas Enterprise, who is ranked thirteenth on the list, attained an ease of use score of 4.5/5.0, a customer service rating of 5.0/5.0, and an overall rating of 5.0/5.0 based on 11 reviews.

Karoline Lapko, Vice President of Jonas Premier Construction Software, is pleased with their continued growth, “At Jonas Premier, our goal has always been to improve our product, our service, and our usability to truly transform the construction software industry. From day one, we provide our clients with an excellent, true cloud construction software, but more than that, we develop strong relationships and really strive to understand and exceed our client’s requirements. Based on our reviews, it is evident that our clients appreciate the value added services we offer, as well as the friendly, helpful, and professional support we provide for each and every one of our clients.” Steve Cowan, President of Jonas Construction Software, is proud of the performance of both Jonas Premier and Enterprise, “Our two products, Premier and Enterprise, have both served their markets very well and have truly performed well from a technology, service, and support perspective. These positive results have been further validated through our excellent customer reviews and what the market has demonstrated to us. As we continue to grow as a company, we continually strive to maintain, as well as enhance, these great relationships with all of our clients and partners.”

To learn more about Jonas Premier, please visit www.jonasconstruction.com/premier/.

To learn more about Jonas Enterprise, please visit www.jonasconstruction.com/enterprise/.

About Jonas Premier Construction Software:

Jonas Premier is a fully integrated, cloud-based construction accounting software solution ideal for general contracting businesses. Running in the cloud, it provides you with the ability to access and input key business information anytime, anywhere. It is built on modern software architecture, fully flexible and is simple to use. The complete offering for contractors includes: accounting, job cost, subcontract management, billing, progress billing, time and material billing, financials, project management, bank management, purchase order, inventory, time entry, integrated document storage, field mobile apps, and vendor and customer portals.

Jonas’ fully-integrated solutions provide all of the tools needed to increase productivity and improve your bottom line. At Jonas, they make it easier for companies to focus on what is important – their customers, their projects and their employees. Jonas does this by streamlining their operations and giving better visibility to the entire organization. This gives your employees the tools to do their jobs better, support your customers and achieve your company goals.