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How Construction Is Moving Toward an Automated World

Experts have long criticized the construction industry’s unwillingness to get with the times. As one of the oldest industries in the world, it would rather stick to the status quo than try new things. That is until recently when some of the largest construction companies in the world started to recognize the benefits that technology and automation have to offer. And the reason for this change makes a lot of sense.

Construction has some of the tightest profit margins of any industry. Not only that, inefficiencies and errors shrink those margins even more. Automation aims to fix that by taking mundane, error-prone tasks and utilizing a system to handle them. The result is more efficient processes and fewer mistakes. Let’s take a look at a few ways construction is moving toward this automated world.

Automation in Construction

Construction automation conjures thoughts of robots and machines erecting buildings. While there are some machines that can lay bricks or pour concrete, construction automation is more about the processes behind the scenes, as a contract, documents, and invoice management. These processes take up a lot of time inputting data, double-checking documents, checking for compliance, and finding (and fixing) errors.

Smart Contracts

Many construction companies are moving toward smart contracts to help streamline and automate certain processes. These contracts work by utilizing “if/then” scenarios, recognizing that once one action takes place, another action needs to occur. 

For instance, some smart contracts will recognize that once a certain stage of a project is complete (say, the contractor gets paid) that more materials will be necessary. The program can then trigger an order to a supplier, making sure there is enough material to continue the job.

This type of automation keeps the construction vehicle rolling, minimizing downtime and maximizing efficiency.

Compliance Automation

Manual compliance management and tracking take a lot of time. Someone needs to check to ensure that each contractor is meeting the requirements set forth but the contract. This could be keeping licenses on file, meeting bond requirements, updating insurance information, sending lien waivers, or many other scenarios. And, should some of those compliances expire, someone needs to know—this sounds like a job for automation.

Automated compliance tracking and management is a significant help to construction companies. Not only will the system track and log compliances as they come in, but it will also notify the project management team if any are missing. They can also prevent expired compliances from going unnoticed by automatically sending a warning to the team.

Document Management

As much as the industry relies on raw materials to build structures, it also relies on documents (and lots of them) to keep the job on track. Between drawings, contracts, compliances, change orders, RFIs, and other construction documents, physically sorting and storing them all is mundane and time-consuming. Manual entry might reduce storage, but it’s also time heavy and prone to mistakes. Automated document management has the answer.

Some document management programs allow a user to upload a document into the system. The system then automatically reviews the document, pulls the important data, and stores it in such a way that’s easy to find and accessible for the whole team.

Automated Payments

Payment problems are always an issue in the construction industry, but automation can help. By giving subcontractors and suppliers an automated system to upload invoices and compliances, you reduce the time it takes for them to get paid. You also limit your risk of multiple payments or paying more than the budget allows.

Invoice Management

Beyond automated payment management, automated invoice management simplifies the entire process. Automated invoice systems will scan an invoice, pull the important data, cross-reference it with other documents, and assess the validity of the invoice. It will also recognize who sent the invoice, which job it’s attached to, and which contract it falls under. 

Automated invoice management can go quite a bit further, as well. The more invoices these systems see, the more proficient they become at recognizing job numbers, vendor codes, cost types, and more, pulling these values and ID numbers straight from the page. 

Possibly most important of all, automated invoice management systems reduce errors and oversights. The system will automatically check to ensure the amount is correct, as well as check that the document in question isn’t a duplicate or fraudulent invoice. This reduces lost money due to errors and mistakes, allowing automated invoice management to pay for itself.

Premier partnered with Smart Ui to offer services just like these. This system offers automated invoice management that only gets smarter the more you use it, helping you improve your company’s efficiency and accounts payable and receivable processes.

Automation Is the Future

Clearly, automation will play a big role in the construction industry’s future. From bots and machines to the way the industry handles data entry tasks, automating tasks allows for growth, increased profits, and better project management.

Check out Premier Construction Software’s automated systems to see if it fits your company’s strategies and goals. Schedule a demo by contacting us today.

Author Biography:

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. 

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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.

 

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Industry Insight Mobile Resources Trends & Technology

Jonas Premier Favored for Contract Management by Capterra

In a recently published article for Capterra, Content Marketing Analyst, Rachel Burger ranked Jonas Premier in the top 10 best constructions software packages for contract management. Citing Premiers unlimited document storage, ease of use and reputation for customer service excellence as defining features, Burger went on to explain that the criteria used in narrowing down her extensive list of candidates consisted of: Is the software industry-specific? Is it applicable for commercial construction? Are there contract management features, and ease of use.

As a provider of fully integrated Construction Project Management and Accounting Software, Jonas Premier offers cutting edge cloud based software for today’s contractors. With complete access to your data from the office, job site, and even the airport, you can make the right decisions for your business at all times. Good bye Citrix, good bye VPN, and welcome to safer, faster software.

 

About Capterra:

Capterra is a website that offers unbiased third party software advice and reviews, you can check them out here.

Rachel Burger is a Content Marketing Analyst, and you can check out some of her writing here.

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Accounting Industry Insight Mobile Trends & Technology

Mobility in the Construction Industry

The construction industry is one of the largest and oldest industries in North America. In some areas it is at the forefront of innovation, and yet is oddly still hesitant to progress in others.  In today’s modern era of construction there are few features that can give as great of an advantage as mobility.

As mentioned in an article on Wired.com , the ability to access live data on the go allows Project Managers, Architects and Engineers to effectively operate multiple projects simultaneously and increase productivity during travel and out of office visits.

So what exactly is a mobile solution? Well for starters, it’s a system that when implemented, allows you hassle free access to live data in any setting and across multiple platforms I.E. your laptop and mobile device. True cloud based software allows you to enter live data and update on the go which ensures that everyone on your team is in sync and up-to-date. Cloud based Accounting and Project Management software provides you access to your data anytime, anywhere, on any device.

With current technology, it is very simple to implement a mobile solution for your construction business of any size.  Devices like the Microsoft Surface or the Chuwi ci8 Plus are capable of running full versions of Microsoft windows which gives you access to the full functionality of software that is too complex for a smartphone, while also maintaining the portability and ease of use of a tablet.  In addition to cloud based software, there are also Mobile Apps that will allow subcontractors to do time entry, daily job logs, and photo captures from the field that update to your projects in real time.

The time to take your business mobile is now. It is 2016 and there is no excuse to limit your own productivity or the productivity of those you employ, to traditional Construction Project Management and Accounting systems. The demands of today’s construction industry are higher than they have ever been before – Mobile Solutions represent the best way to reach new possibilities.

 

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Accounting Industry Insight Job Costing Resources Trends & Technology

Jonas Premier Listed in Top 10 by SoftwareAdvice

In a recent article, SoftwareAdvice.com listed Jonas Premier amongst the top ten most popular construction software products. The three metrics used to determine the rankings were, user adoption level, search traffic, and social media presence weighted by 75%, 14% and 10% respectively. Of these companies, Premier ranked the highest of the providers that offer true cloud, combined integrated project management and accounting software.

 

As a general contractor, moving to a cloud-based project management and accounting software is the first step towards expanding the scope of your business. By moving to an electronic cloud-based, integrated solution you can expect a significant improvement in job costing and tracking, greatly reduced double entry, and data access in any situation. Moving to cloud will keep you relevant in the ever-evolving world of construction and provide you with an edge against the competition.

 

Jonas Premier is crafted on a modern software architecture that is both flexible and simple to use. Some of the features that Premier offers include sides of Accounting, Job Cost, Progress Billing, Subcontract Management, Financials, Customer Portals and MS Projects Integration just to name a few.

 

About Software Advice

Software Advice is a trusted resource for construction software buyers. They provide detailed reviews and research on thousands of software applications.