We know that the construction industry has been slow at adopting new technologies and embracing digital transformation. What many executives and industry leaders don’t realize is that when construction companies invest in technology, they spend the majority of their budgets on in-office solutions. While office technology is important, ignoring the field — an area of operations that’s starved for advanced technology — isn’t wise.
Approximately 90% of construction project costs are spent in the field, and yet a small fraction of the construction technology is used on the job site. With field costs representing a significant portion of the budget, positive changes on the job site can have a huge impact on a company’s bottom line. So, why are so many construction firms overlooking field technology?
The easiest answer is that, up until recently, field tools haven’t been practical. In the past, technology like ruggedized laptops or older smart phone models were clunky and impractical. And, even though technology has advanced significantly in recent years, many firms are resistant to giving mobile technology another try.
Since many construction workers are accustomed to paper, they won’t give it up in favor of tablets and mobile devices without good reason. This means that to encourage workers to adopt technology, mobile apps and software can’t just digitize paper processes—they must improve the entire experience and provide additional functions that paper can’t deliver.
The Problem with Paper
Building plans provide the perfect example of a paper process that’s been hard to digitize. For years, software for digitizing building plans couldn’t compete with paper because those apps were PDF viewers that were slow and required constant refreshing. When you wanted to zoom in on a particular area of the drawing, the image would be pixelated until the full-resolution version loaded. Many job sites tried to incorporate digital plans but reverted to paper because it was still more convenient.
PlanGrid has completely changed the game by revolutionizing the way workers manage and build projects. With PlanGrid, construction workers can access construction drawings, specs, photos, RFIs, field reports, and punch lists from any mobile device or on the Web, with added functionality that’s far superior to paper plans. And because PlanGrid can be integrated with CMiC’s unified construction software platform, workers can merge construction drawing data with all their ERP processes.
PlanGrid has three main advantages over paper:
1. Reduces rework
With paper plans, it’s not uncommon for teams to be working off of outdated information. In fact, the median cost of rework due to poor document control costs the U.S. construction industry roughly $4.2 billion per year. When rework happens, parts of the project must be rebuilt. With PlanGrid, new plans are automatically distributed, so workers in the field can find and access the most up-to-date plans. By integrating PlanGrid with CMiC, critical project information such as approved submittals or answers to RFIs can be accessed more easily in the field, and help prevent costly mistakes.
2. Fosters collaboration
PlanGrid streamlines document control and distribution by providing construction teams with easy access to all project information from any device, which enables seamless collaboration within teams and the ability for every construction company to achieve new levels of productivity and insights on every project. For example, project stakeholders can access and collaborate on the same set of building plans, and changes will instantly update so that every project stakeholder is working from the same set. Adding PlanGrid to CMiC’s many other tools for collaboration will help teams work faster and more efficiently.
3. Streamlines communication
Workers can report issues from the field using their mobile devices and connect the report to specific areas on the blueprint. When integrated with CMiC, the PlanGrid issue reporting capabilities are merged with the entire ERP system. Once the project lead receives a report, they can make all of the necessary changes and arrangements within the ERP system.
Integrating PlanGrid with CMiC
CMiC wanted to offer an integration that would allow our clients to benefit from PlanGrid’s ability to improve productivity, while making the new data that customers collect from the field available in CMiC. That integration is now available to customers of PlanGrid and CMiC.
The unique advantage of CMiC’s ERP software solution is that all project data is stored in one database without the need to rekey data into siloed systems. All applications and team members have access to the same set of data — no duplicate or conflicting information. By providing an integration, CMiC has ensured that data will flow freely between PlanGrid and all other CMiC applications.
To explain how this works, we’ll use the example of an RFI:
There are many ways to enter an RFI into the CMiC platform. For example:
- A senior team member can use the desktop computer in the trailer.
- An in-office executive can use CMiC I/O to create a new RFI by sending an email that will be read by the CMiC system and used to make updates.
- A worker in the field can create RFIs in PlanGrid using their mobile device or tablet.
With multiple ways to enter in an RFI, there needs to be a central place where all of this information is stored. If the PlanGrid app isn’t integrated with the larger ERP system, all RFIs created using the app must be entered manually into the ERP system. This is time-consuming and increases the risk of errors.
By integrating PlanGrid with CMiC’s robust ERP platform, construction executives can store, track, and locate every RFI, whether it’s created in the PlanGrid app or not. Not only does this improve communication and data sharing, but it also helps construction companies document every aspect of the building process. This is especially crucial if companies are involved in litigation and need access to all project documentation in order to prove the reliability of those documents.
The Advantage of Unified Construction Software
The PlanGrid and CMiC integration is just one example of how unified systems give companies access to powerful functionality while maintaining cohesive and efficient operations. When construction software applications aren’t properly integrated, operations get more complex and less efficient. Because individual apps aren’t “talking” to one another, data must be entered multiple times across several apps, leading to mistakes and conflicting information.
When it comes to the complexity of construction projects, unified construction software is the only way to maintain order, increase productivity, and establish strong collaboration between team members.