The construction industry has been known to lag behind when it comes to tech adoption, and there are still many leaders that remain loyal to old and inefficient workflows. Firms may resist adopting new technology because they don’t see the immediate benefits of a digital transformation or because they want to avoid the risks associated with a large upfront investment. Whatever the reason, they’re missing out on the benefits that intelligent software can bring.
One area of operations that has been transformed by software technology is document sharing. The importance of document sharing has skyrocketed in recent years, as projects grow larger and more complex. Today, construction firms struggle with more documentation and data than ever before at the same time that stakeholders are demanding increased transparency and more frequent communication. This combination makes it essential for construction companies to streamline their document management strategies.
Most construction companies have digitized their operations and rely on some form of digital document sharing. But, just because something is digital doesn’t mean it’s efficient. For example, sharing digital documents via email can be time-consuming and confusing, causing serious approval bottlenecks. Construction leaders receive a never-ending carousel of emails with new tasks of equal importance that demand attention. It only takes one overworked executive with an inbox full of emails to bring operations to a screeching halt. And when stakeholders are forced to sort through a thread of 15 emails to find the information they’re looking for, they can become frustrated and unresponsive.
The alternative to this antiquated form of document sharing is a central database where team members can access, edit and approve documents within a single application—making it easier for executives and stakeholders to give approvals and keep projects on schedule.
Multiple Document Versions
Version control is one of the most important and difficult aspects of document sharing. Most documents in construction are created collaboratively, and as team members make their additions and changes, many new versions of a single document can be created. Depending on their system for naming, storing and sharing document versions, firms can easily run into issues where team members aren’t sure which information to trust or what project details are the most up-to-date.
Construction ERP software eliminates the hassle of managing multiple document versions. Software like CMiC’s platform allows teams to make and store all changes within a single document. With traditional systems, you never know if changes were purposefully overwritten or simply lost among the many versions of a given document. But with an ERP software built for construction, a history of edits is recorded so that all parties can see exactly what changes have been made. Having a reliable version of all project documents lets project managers and subcontractors do their best work in the field.
Rekeying errors can not only cause minor project hiccups and small profit losses but also lead to major disasters. They can happen anytime workers are manually entering data, but there are a few areas where rekeying errors are especially prevalent:
Writing Down Data in the Field
It’s common for subcontractors to write down notes on paper when they’re in the field. Unfortunately, with pen-and-paper record keeping, it’s easy to jot down incorrect information or write illegibly. Something as simple as an in-office worker mistaking a “1” for a “7” can result in ordering insufficient materials or over-purchasing. Entire construction projects can be impacted by simple errors made while taking and interpreting notes from the field.
Copying Data from One Software System to Another
Rekeying errors are common when a firm uses multiple software systems. If for example, a firm has two separate systems for project management and accounting that aren’t properly connected, workers will be forced to manually copy data between applications. This requires massive amounts of manual data input, which can easily lead to incorrect and conflicting data.
The good news is that advanced software tech can virtually eliminate errors caused by rekeying when data is stored in a single-database platform. With a single source of truth, project data is accessible to all applications within the ERP system and documents are auto-populated with relevant, up-to-date project information.
Internal Network Instead of Cloud Database
Traditional data management strategies use an internal network drive to store crucial data. There are some advantages to this system (especially when combined with an advanced single-database platform), but it’s important to consider the alternatives. For many firms, a cloud database is the best option.
Firms with outdated software and an onsite network drive may find it difficult to share data with key players. Here’s why: Team members must log in to the internal network every time they’re looking for data. If employees aren’t in the office, they’ll have to use a remote desktop login or some other workaround to access the documents they need. In contrast, cloud systems make the process of accessing documents faster and easier, especially on the job site.
Is your firm looking for a better way? Learn how to solve your firm’s most common issues with our blog series on ERP Solutions to Common Workflow Challenges.