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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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Industry Insight Resources

Best Practices For Software Implementation

Beginnings are always messy and this is often true in the Construction Industry. Especially at the start of a new project, which can make the entire project messy from day one. Through proper planning, possible pitfalls can most definitely be avoided.

The same can be said for implementing new construction software. Contractors often hesitate investing in a more efficient system – typically not due to the cost, but rather the anticipated stress associated with change management.

By applying your skills and know-how of running a successful and profitable construction project, you can avoid these common missteps when implementing a new construction software. Below are some of the most common roadblocks and related best practices to curb them.

1. Begin with a Plan

When you purchase a new construction software package, approach the implementation process the same way you would approach a new job – with a solid plan. Tap into the resources of your software provider in order to develop a logical and effective implementation strategy in order to be successful. They have helped thousands of clients before you, so with an open mind, allow them to be your trusted partner throughout the process.

2.  Define Success

Success is more than simply having the system up and running. Look deeper into defining what success is. What procedures have you found that haven’t worked with your current software and how can those procedures be improved? Identify these measurements of success at the onset of implementing new software.

3.  Assign a Project Manager Lead

Typically, you wouldn’t begin a new job without a Project Manager, so do not start a software transition without one. Ensure you have a dedicated Project Manager on board from your company and ensure they play a substantial role during the implementation process. Ultimately, the Project Manager will be one of the champions during start to finish of implementation and further on.

4.  Review Old Procedures

The main reason for changing software packages is to increase productivity and profitability. In order to increase this, it is important to review old procedures in order to make the necessary adjustments. Spend the time up front to establish a more standardized structure for all of your jobs and overall operations within your company.

5.  Review Outdated Information

Before switching over to your new software provider, review all of your records. By eliminating duplicate vendors, evaluating outstanding items and updating employee information – you can start with a clean set of data, which will help you when developing new procedures or tweaking existing ones.

6.  Approach Implementation in Phases

Transitioning over to a new software package should be approached in phases, just like a job. Map out each phase along with your software provider and share this with your team leads. By approaching this in phases, it will keep your staff from feeling overwhelmed as you move throughout implementation because you are giving them time to learn the basics before adding more complex functionality.

7.  Stay Positive and take Advantage!

Implementing new software can come with a bag of changing emotions – excitement, dread, frustration and impatience. Change can be difficult but remaining positive and taking advantage of the support your software provider is arming you with, will make all the difference! Keep an open line of communication between yourself and your team, as well as the software provider. Increase your knowledge base and overall efficiency by taking advantage of any additional resources, webinars and much more. Most importantly, take a hands on approach to training in order to utilize the software to is maximum ability.

Change is necessary for growth. Set expectations early on and approach the brand new implementation process with a solid strategy!

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Industry Insight Trends & Technology

Jonas Premier Scores High in Software Advice Review

Jonas Premier, a division of Jonas Construction, achieves high overall ratings in a third-party review from SoftwareAdvice.com.

 

With Jonas Premier growing at an exponential rate, it is evident their customers are more than satisfied with the cloud-based software solution. Of their 26 reviews on Software Advice, Jonas Premier has an average rating of 4.44/5.00, which equates to an 88% rate of customer satisfaction overall. With reviewers ranging from companies with a single employee to companies with 101-500 employees, it is evident Jonas Premier can meet a wide-range of business’ requirements. Majority of the respondents (62%), are construction managers or general contractors, and Premier is designed with their specific needs in mind. With regards to ease of use, Jonas Premier scored 4.27/5.00 or about 85%. This demonstrates how simple, yet powerful Jonas Premier is, and their users truly appreciate the intuitiveness of the software. When it comes to functionality, Premier also scored quite well, with an average rating of 4.33/5.00 or about 86%. The software is easy to learn and navigate, and is fully integrated, allowing users to perform tasks more efficiently and effectively.

 

Forrest Burnson, Market Research Associate at Software Advice provides insight into the excellent reviews Jonas Premier has received, “It is critical for software vendors to provide excellent customer support in this day and age. Especially in the construction industry, where a high premium is placed on trust, reputation and reliability. Jonas’ stellar track record for customer support sets the example that other vendors should follow.”

 

In terms of quality, Jonas Premier ranks highly, with an average score of 4.37/5.00 or about 87%. With Jonas Premiers’ mission to simplify construction software complexities, quality does not take a back seat. Premier prides themselves on offering a truly integrated solution, backed by Jonas Construction Software, with over 25 years of experience in the construction industry. With an average rating of 4.81/5.00 or a remarkable 96%, customer support is Jonas Premier’s strongest attribute. Even more impressive, an astounding 66% of all reviewers gave Jonas them a perfect score for customer support. This lends itself to Premiers’ philosophy of supporting customers throughout the entire implementation process and ensuring their customers are fully trained and ready to use the software in just 30 training hours. Jonas Premier not only understands the importance of providing training and support during the pre-implementation and implementation phases, but also after the software solution is deployed. Their support specialists are experts with regards to Premier knowledge, and this is clearly demonstrated with such a high customer support rating.

 

Karoline Lapko, Vice President of Jonas Premier, is not surprised by these great reviews, “At Jonas Premier, we go above and beyond and set higher standards to guarantee customer satisfaction. With our 3 step training process, we ensure our customers are confident when the go live, and with unlimited direct personal support and training, we are always there to assist our clients in any way possible.”

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Industry Insight Resources

Preparing for a Successful Software Implementation Process

When it comes to the construction industry, having a project plan in place to ensure each project runs smoothly is crucial to the success of that project. Well the same goes with Software. When implementing an integrated software package, the most common complaint is, “we need more training”. While training is the most commonly thought software implementation issue, there are four main concerns that must be addressed to ensure a successful implementation process. The concerns are leadership, communication, project management, and change management.

 

Issues Surrounding Leadership

Leaders need to set realistic goals and expectations upfront, before the implementation process begins to take place. This is the best way to garner positive results, as all parties involved will have a clear understanding of what is required for a successful implementation. Also, planning for what resources will be needed during the implementation process is essential to the success of the plan. Your employees are busy with their daily tasks as it is, therefore if the process is too difficult or unclear, the implementation is more likely to suffer than anything else.

 

Communication

Ensuring everyone is aware and understands the full scope of the implementation plan eliminates the element of surprise and allows employees to prepare for what lies ahead. By systematically communicating and releasing information about the software implementation process, your employees will be more aware and have a clearer understanding of the implementation progress. In addition, it is important to communicate why the change is being made and how it will positively affect the employees.

 

Project Management

The project manager keeps track of all aspects of the job and is relied upon to make sure that job goes according to plan. The same ideology should be applied to implementing a new software. While there is a team handling the implementation process, there should be an implementation ‘project manager’ to keep the process on track. This individual can ensure that the right employees are handling the appropriate tasks and that each person is understanding how the new software works.

 

Change Management

With any growing business, change becomes inevitable. With change however, it sometimes creates aversion amongst those who are resistant to moving away from their old ways. For example, some employees may be more comfortable using spreadsheets that they already know well, as opposed to learning a new software. Change is not an easy process it needs to be understood and managed in a way that people can cope effectively with it. Consult your employees about the implementation, have each one lead a certain part of the training process and report back to the project manager. Knowing the strengths and limitations of your business and your people is vital to a successful implementation process.

 

It is easy to point to training as the main reason why implementation projects struggle, but if all of the underlying concerns mentioned above are taken into consideration, the process will be a successful one.

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Resources

How to Have a Great Training Experience

For far too many clients, the scariest part about implementing new software is the initial transition from their old software. Migrating all their key data properly and ensuring their employees are trained effectively on the new system is a crucial and important step to their long-term success. If the training process is not carried out adequately their staff may lack the knowledge and confidence they require to become proficient users.  The above indicates just how critical proper training is for a smooth software transition and reduced headaches – but how do you go about accomplishing that? Simple! Just follow these four steps:

Establish Goals

Establishing goals on both ends goes a long way to ensuring a smooth learning curve throughout the training process. Set clear expectations and then strive to meet them; exceed if possible.

Make a Schedule

Setting out a realistic schedule will get the client to gradually use the software and be eager to learn.

Understand different learning styles

Get to know your client’s learning style and cater to them. People learn differently – some better with shorter training sessions, while others are more comfortable with a hands-on approach. Offer different options so that you can transfer your knowledge in a way that is most effective for your client.

Unlimited Training

Premier believes that offering unlimited training goes a long way in ensuring your client’s success. People learn at different paces, as companies grow employees are hired, or people simply forget how to use certain functions. Offering unlimited training gives clients the confidence that they will never be stranded.

 

Premier is dedicated to help you manage and grow your business. We offer advice on best practices, use a challenger approach and help you get the most out of our software. We understand the importance of the training phase and put an emphasis on always being available, creating efficient training schedules that are flexible, and sharing with our clients all the knowledge we have acquired over the years.

Please refer to our implementation process page for additional information.