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10 Construction Best Practices You Should Be Doing Right Now
Construction projects grow in magnitude and complexity every year, demanding more time, resources and creativity from contractors. The business of construction used to rely on traditional building processes and tools—pen and paper, faxes, emails, spreadsheets—but these methods can no longer keep up with modern construction’s increasingly complex projects and demands for real-time data and workflows.
It took a while for construction management to come around, but now it’s widely accepted that the old ways of doing things just won’t work anymore. Veterans of the industry realize that a tech-focused approach is the only way to complete their projects on time and meet client expectations. This mentality shift has led contractors to:
- Digitize documentation to cut needless paper out of the equation
- Implement cloud technologies to instantly share data and streamline workflows
- Implement modern reporting and data analytics tools for optimized decision-making
- Use mobile applications to open access to data and improve workflows in the field
- Add new technologies that automatically complete essential daily tasks, including payroll, HR, invoicing, data collection, and other processes that previously took multiple steps and people to complete
Today, the construction industry is in the midst of a sweeping technology transformation, with leading contractors not just adapting to technology, but driving new innovations as well. For those that have yet to modernize their operations, most realize that time is running out to do so in order to remain competitive.
Beyond just adding technology, however, leading contractors are implementing new processes, stoking innovative fires and building better workforces. Below, you'll find 10 examples of what modern, data-driven contractors are doing to better meet the needs of both their clients and 21st-century construction projects.
Top 10 Best Construction Practices
Here is a brief look at 10 best practices that contractors should be looking at to modernize and stay relevant in this new age of construction.
1. Go Fully Digital
Why waste time relying on printed documents (and losing paper or working from the wrong versions of paper documents in the field) when you have access to numerous online platforms to record your projects’ information?
Digital documentation is more sustainable, cost-effective and efficient. You can store everything on a single device without scouring through stacks of blueprints or rows of file cabinets to find the information you need. More straightforward documentation leads to fewer mistakes and better projects.
2. Move to the Cloud
Businesses across all industries are moving to cloud-based technology for real-time data and collaboration with co-workers. Cloud software provides access to the real-time data and workflows today’s contractors need to take immediate actions on projects, reducing risks and boosting profits. You can monitor progress and give feedback as the project progresses, allowing your whole team to make better decisions in a timely fashion.
The cloud is also the backbone on which much of the modern technologies driving business today is built on. In order to take advantage of the coolest new technologies, the most innovative solutions and the best data security and business continuity measures, the cloud is becoming an essential part of the construction management process.
3. Beef up Cybersecurity
Speaking of data and cybersecurity, many of today’s contractors are still utilizing their own on-site servers and data storage to power their construction workflows. Unfortunately, this also makes them top targets for cybercriminals, as these are much more vulnerable than cloud-based, hosted software.
Companies that move to a hosted cloud environment can beef up their cybersecurity in the process, taking advantage of the latest cybersecurity protections and regular maintenance by vendors whose job it is to stay on top of threats before they become incidents
4. Implement Prefabrication Building
Prefabrication, also known as modular building, involves creating a part of a construction project’s supporting structure (like a wall, electrical systems, or mechanical systems) at a controlled off-site facility and then transporting the finished pieces to the main location later on.
This trend makes specialists' jobs much easier and allows for better quality control. Fewer workers and moving parts on the primary site mean you can supervise and ensure a safer work environment for your crew. Modular building has become a proven winner in places like the United Kingdom and more and more contractors are looking at modular and prefab processes in the United States.
5. Consolidate Software
One of the best ways to streamline workflows and be more efficient is to consolidate as many workflows as possible, through data and technology. Logging into many different programs and apps all day long takes time.
Connected data and workflows mean your team can access the information they need quickly, and remotely out in the field, to spot potential problems before they occur. This allows you to be proactive and continue to grow, rather than being reactive and doing damage control.
6. Embrace Analytics
One of the most beneficial aspects of today’s technology capabilities is the ability to dig much deeper into data with advanced analytics. Modern cloud construction and project management systems can provide real-time analytics, allowing you to segment, analyze, and see budgets and progress in realtime.
Analytics helps you track progress, study and compare the success of different projects, identify trends, set more pertinent benchmarks, implement better strategies, and even accurately forecast how projects might fare in the future.
7. Streamline Construction HR Management
One of the biggest challenges in construction is managing the large and ever-changing workforces effectively. With new workers coming and going—and finding skilled professionals amid an ongoing construction labor shortage—contractors’ HR professionals are consistently under pressure to keep up.
Thankfully, new construction HR technologies are automating some of those more burdensome daily tasks like time collection, payroll, employee onboarding, compliance documentation and much more. With modern construction HR tools, employees can now self-serve many of their own HR needs (like updating information, time off requests, access to pay stubs, etc.) through online portals and automated tasks—without having to pepper HR professionals with requests.
Plus, you can hire and onboard new workers much more efficiently, giving you more time to focus on more pressing responsibilities around the site.
8. Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
More and more, project owners are requiring the contractors they award bids to to have sound diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices in place. Beyond compliance, however, rolling out and supporting DEI campaigns within the construction organization is simply the right thing to do—and a sound business decision.
A more diverse workforce leads to more productive discussions, happier workforces, and better collaboration and production. When everyone feels included and heard, they can go about their responsibilities confident in themselves and their co-workers.
Find Your Equipment Management Sweet Spot
For contractors engaged in heavy construction work, maintaining a healthy equipment fleet is of the largest capital expenses. Taking proper care of the machines and vehicle fleets your projects depend on is key to keeping them moving and maximizing profitability.
From accurately tracking equipment usage and ensuring the right machines are scheduled for the right jobs, to maintaining proper maintenance, to knowing when to retire a piece of equipment and/or purchase a new one, equipment management is an important construction science. Today’s modern construction technologies help construction equipment managers stay ahead of the game-in real time. This reduces the risks of costly equipment misuse, breakdowns and more.
10. Automate Your Accounts Payable Processes
Why spend hours shuffling through paper and spreadsheets to pay the bills when you can let an automated technology do it for you? New applications, like the Viewpoint ePayments solution, digitize the construction accounts payable process, giving you more time to focus on other project tasks.
Using modern payment workflows like ACH, credit cards and more, means paying the bills can be as simple as a one-touch step—and improves speed and accuracy as well. Accounts payable doesn;t have to be a stressful, time-consuming endeavor anymore!
Realize a Truly Connected Construction Environment
By embracing modern technologies and practices, construction firms can more effectively address their own customers’ key pain points and challenges—including building on budget, on schedule, and in ways that are sustainable—while also improving their own business efficiency, accuracy, sustainability, competitiveness and profitability.
A connected construction experience is one in which construction firms have access to a common data environment with a standardized set of connected workflows across all departments/disciplines of the construction process. And it’s completely achievable today. With the right vendor, a connected construction suite can not just transform how your company operates today, but it can scale and future-proof your business for the long term.
Watch this video to see how:
To find out how, connect with one of our Trimble Viewpoint experts today to get your own personal technology and workflow assessment.