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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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Tips & Advice Trends & Technology

A Way of Attracting Younger Construction Workers? Technology.

Many construction industry companies are looking for ways to attract the younger generations to work with them so their businesses can continue on into the future. But with a labor shortage throughout the country, and particularly in construction, companies have to work harder to attract younger workers.

The answer to the question of how to reach younger workers and encourage them to join the industry is technology. By updating systems and software, using the latest in tech gear, and focusing on recruiting young workers, construction companies can make the industry attractive again.

An aging workforce

Workers younger than 25 make up only 9% of the total construction industry workforce. Roughly 40% of workers in the industry are 45–64. And according to data from the Center for Construction Research and Training, workers aged 55 and over increased from 17% in 2011 to 22% in 2018.

Add to that the fact that the industry has struggled to attract younger workers and it’s a recipe for a shortage in the near future. High school students are encouraged to go to college and choose a career path from there. The trades and other construction-related occupations are not given as much fanfare.

Contractors are complaining about the lack of skilled workers available, but the truth is the industry doesn’t do a good enough job attracting potential workers. The younger generations have grown up with technology by their side and have come to rely on it for every aspect of their lives. However, construction has been slow to adopt new technology, and many workers still rely on outdated resources to perform their work.

If contractors and other construction companies want to attract younger workers, they’ve got to adopt the latest in technology. This will allow them to take advantage of the benefits of younger workers’ skills. Students in construction management programs are getting trained on the use of scheduling software, project management software, estimating software, and electronic material takeoff. Administrative and accounting professionals are being trained using new software with new functionalities. Asking highly trained workers to use outdated programs discounts the education they worked so hard to get.

By asking workers to use systems they are not familiar with also slows down the training time and increases costs. Companies that still do manual takeoffs will struggle to teach a Millenial worker about scales and manual calculations. This leads to a longer onboarding process, costing companies more money while they wait for a new worker to become productive.

Upgrade your tools

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

Accounting

In accounting education students are quickly trained on the debits and credits, then they are moved to software. While most construction companies use accounting software, not many use software specifically designed for the industry. QuickBooks and other general-purpose accounting software can be useful when a company is starting out, but as they grow and want to attract a higher level of talent, industry-specific software becomes a necessity.

Since construction accounting is so different than any other industry, using industry-specific software becomes even more important. Trying to show someone the intricacies of construction accounting using software that isn’t built for those intricacies can lead to a lot of confusion. New workers need a straightforward process that often isn’t available when using generic software.

Project management

Students in construction management programs are learning project management and documentation by using software packages. These packages make tracking correspondence, submittals, and RFIs much easier than using an Excel spreadsheet. If companies aren’t using these tools, they could be losing the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest.

Estimating and takeoff

When it comes to estimating and material takeoffs, integration is the key. Too many companies rely on outdated software or manual methods to create project estimates and do material takeoffs. Those amounts then need to be entered into another software system once the project is approved. By integrating and automating the estimating takeoff process, companies can improve speed and accuracy. Both of these lead to more work and higher profits.

Scheduling

Scheduling software allows project managers to build dependencies and relationships between tasks on a project. This makes updating the schedule a lot easier because tasks automatically move depending on their predecessors. Having to spend hours manually updating a schedule can be costly.

In addition, some schedules can be imported into the project management system, allowing the team to view the day’s activities and adjust the schedule as needed.

Update your software with Premier

By implementing the latest in technology and bringing processes into the 21st century, construction companies can attract younger, skilled workers. Companies that do not upgrade will continue to struggle to recruit new workers and attract the best and brightest.

If your company is ready to upgrade your accounting and project management software, contact us to see a demo of Premier Construction 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.

 

Categories
Industry Insight Trends & Technology

How COVID-19 Has Shifted the Construction Industry in 2020

Things have changed in 2020; we all know that. With industry shutdowns, social distancing, and new safety regulations, there’s no way they couldn’t change. The construction industry is unique in the effects the pandemic has had on our work. Since much of our work still has to be done on-site and by groups of people working closely with each other, the industry has had to pivot quickly. This has led to innovations in several areas, with the most prominent being technology, safety, and communication.

Construction technology

There have always been early adopters of construction technology, and many companies have been on the cutting edge for years. But these adopters have been widely dispersed and technology hasn’t gained much momentum in the industry, until now. In fact, up until now construction has been one of the slowest industries when it comes to adopting technology.

In 2020 the game changed. Suddenly everyone had to adopt technology, whether they wanted to or not. Some tech, like video conferencing, everyone had to quickly adapt to, so we were all in it together. There is some technology however, that the construction industry had to adapt on its own.

Drones have been in use on construction projects for a few years now. So they aren’t completely new to the industry. But suddenly project teams had to rely on them to get information from project sites. Drones are now being used by roofing contractors to do takeoffs and inspections, by site teams to perform project walk-throughs, and as a tool for surveying parts of projects that are difficult to get to. Expect drones to continue to grow in popularity into the future.

Virtual reality (VR) has allowed project teams to view projects and do inspections without having to be present physically. VR runs the gamut from photographs that are sent to inspectors and team leaders to a full video tour by a project team member with a phone or by drone. While the use of photos and video have been around for a while, they were never used for formal building inspections. Jurisdictions have been quick to adopt these technologies due to the fact that they needed to limit their on-site visits. The use of VR has the capability to speed inspections and shorten schedules.

The use of robots and other equipment to assist with the installation of building materials has also increased this year. Glass companies are using additional equipment to help them install large panes of glass with only one or two real person team members. This has improved the safety of installation and also sped up production. The use of robots and equipment to assist with installation continues to increase, and probably will as we continue to look for ways to work smarter.

Safety

2020 has been the year for new safety and health regulations, including regular health checks and added PPE. Local jurisdictions have been quickly issuing new guidance to contractors on how to keep their job sites running during the pandemic, while keeping workers as safe as possible. Contractors have had to pivot multiple times this year, reassessing their safety protocols and making sure that everyone is complying with the new requirements.

Companies now have to implement health monitoring protocols into their job sites. On large projects this can be difficult, as workers are entering and leaving areas through multiple entrances, and sites aren’t always monitored. In addition, companies have to track where workers are working at all times and who they are working closely with, in case they need to do contracting tracing. They also must keep detailed records and have them available when requested. Many companies have turned to technology to assist them with this, including the use of wearables, location monitoring, and automated health checks. Until the vaccine is widely distributed, these protocols will remain in place.

PPE needs have skyrocketed this year. Suddenly facemasks and gloves were in short supply. Now that supplies have leveled off, it’s easier for contractors to get a hold of the PPE they need. Many sites are requiring face protection, gloves, and masks be worn at all times to keep employees safe. These protocols are likely to continue into 2021 and beyond, as we try to maintain the health of all on-site workers.

Manpower use and crew size have decreased this year. Large job sites that had hundreds of workers were reduced to tens. Many companies had to look at alternative ways to get their work installed. Some used added equipment or robots, while others looked to prefabrication. Fabricating assemblies off-site reduces the number of employees in one space, allowing more workers to continue working safely. Prefabrication also reduces the amount of material used, prevents weather damage, and is better for the environment. This is a trend that will continue to gain momentum.

Communication

In a Forbes article, Johnny Clemmons, SAP Global Vice President Industry Business Unit Head of Engineering, Construction, and Operations, said that in the future, “Information must also be democratized, digitized, and universally placed into the hands of constructors to make a real impact on the industry.” While communication has often been a struggle in construction, many companies were forced to step into the future whether they were ready or not. The face of communication on job sites will be forever changed due to the pandemic.

Videoconferencing immediately jumped into the forefront of everyone’s day-to-day life. Zoom calls and Teams meetups are the norm today. These meetings have allowed people to remain in contact with each other, see each other, and maintain some sense of normalcy when face-to-face meetings haven’t been allowed. While many are suffering “Zoom fatigue,” these calls have allowed team members to attend meetings and view sites without having to travel, saving time and money. Conferencing this way may continue to be the norm going into the future, especially as security improves.

Cloud storage allows teams to access files, documents, and photos from anywhere with an internet connection. Since many project executives have been working remotely or at home, the ability to have access to these documents is paramount. This has allowed teams to easily keep up to date with project changes and ensure that team members have access to all the project files.

Collaboration and communication among team members has been more difficult when they can’t meet around the table and have open discussions. Many have turned to project management software to assist in collaboration. The ability to review drawings or documents, make changes, and have them updated immediately has improved project communication and helped ensure that work is done correctly.

The new normal

While drastic changes in technology, safety, and communication have occurred this year, the industry has quickly adapted and integrated these changes into his everyday processes. Teams are now better poised to deal with changes on-site with the use of these tools. While the use of on-site technology and current safety protocols may be reduced once the pandemic has passed, the need for communication and collaboration among team members will continue into the future. Companies that adopt tools such as construction project management software will have more success in the future, leading to better projects and improved client relationships.

 

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 Trends & Technology

Technology That Is Changing The World Of Construction

Over the centuries, humans have developed new ways to build taller, stronger and more beautiful creations with game-changing materials – but what does the future hold for construction technology? In today’s world of rapidly advancing technology, many amazing new innovations come to mind that we believe will have a great impact on the future of construction.

We have compiled a short list of three of the most exciting innovations. Some are even in use today.

  1. Drones
    – Drones, often considered to be no more than a toy for children of all ages, represent one of biggest potential disruptors of the construction industry. Equipped with a camera drones can be used for everything from providing onsite tours for investors to exploring hazardous situations before sending members of your crew in. Drones will not only reduce or eliminate the need to risk the wellbeing of your employees in unstable conditions such as potential gas leaks or potential collapse or cave in but they will also act as an extension to every worker, allowing access to smaller and higher spaces and providing simple and fast Solutions to age old problems. (Drone bridge clip).
  2.  Virtual Reality – With the recent release of the Oculus Rift, and the inevitability of virtual reality becoming mainstream, it will not be    long before these head sets are a common sight in the construction industry. Designers can create a 1 to 1 model of buildings that will allow both clients and contractors to view and interact with seemingly life size mock ups. This will allow for vital changes and redesigns to be made before construction begins, saving not only money but time as well. In addition to this, trade schools will likely adopt VR for training and simulation processes allowing young tradesmen to apply knowledge in a challenging but completely safe testing environment.
  3. Augmented Reality – The younger and more jobsite applicable brother to VR, Augmented Reality is already deployed in the field. These headsets (Like Google glass) overlay data, live video links, and environmental readings overtop of the surrounding environment. This becomes incredibly useful for when technicians are repairing or installing complicated equipment, or when working in extreme or dangerous environments. One really great example of this tech is the DAQRI Headset, which takes the form of a futuristic hard hat, a technological gem that was recently adopted by Elon Musk on his Hyperloop.