Mobile apps can improve your construction business.
By Stephen Smith
For construction managers, the success of every project is dependent on detailed construction project management (CPM), including overall planning, coordination and control of a project from beginning to end. Time is money and while detailed CPM proves critical to a project’s success, the fact remains that plans and schedules don’t build things: people do. Managing a workforce that spends most of its time on job sites (or traveling between them) can create many challenges for construction organizations – such as tracking payroll effectively, time spent on specific jobs, managing fuel and mileage expenses and capturing proof for services provided. By deploying a mobile workforce management solution, complete with easy to use mobile apps, companies can effectively increase their field productivity and reduce costs by having greater visibility into all activities associated with each job.
Below are five practical ways mobile apps can help organizations that are reliant on a mobile workforce to work smarter and more efficiently:
• Accurately track and manage costs – Most construction projects are bid and won based on the detailed projections of how long a specific project will take and what materials are used. In order to accurately estimate these details and control the labor costs associated with each job, construction companies need a clear understanding of how long a worker spends on a specific task or job. Mobile apps provide the ability to capture time – along with all other resources – spent on specific jobs and better analyze job activities with precision.
This is central to improving budgeting accuracy and helping to ensure future project bids are profitable. Furthermore, streamlining the process to billing, this also provides a more accurate system for capturing and delivering employee timesheets to help ease the administrative burden on field supervisors and finance personnel. Lastly, real-time alerts can be sent to companies to keep them informed of key events occurring in the field, such as the exact time and details associated with starting and completing a specific job – helping companies discover ways to cut costs and increase productivity.
• Proof of service – Details and indisputable proof of service are key to supporting and expediting prompt payment. Storing all this information electronically gives construction companies the ability to easily produce records needed to eliminate any discrepancies – for example: providing the ability to seamlessly produce documentation of when a worker arrives at a location in addition to exact details on what material was used during the job.
What’s more, users also have the ability to document pre- and post-site conditions, including critical stages during the construction process, with noted and time/date stamped photos. By electronically capturing this in the activity/job record, all of this can be immediately accessible for billing contention, inspections or complaints of damage by neighbors, as well as accessed quickly any time in the future. Furthermore, the same applies for captured signatures and field tickets at job sites to ensure a consolidated record of what has occurred, when, by who, with what, and at all stages of the job.
• Automate payroll with mobile timesheets – By replacing old-fashioned manual timecards with mobile timesheets accessible from an employee’s mobile device, companies are able to automate their payroll process and reduce overtime expenses. When workers have the ability to record their daily hours via mobile device, companies can accurately capture GPS location-stamped employee timesheets, saving valuable time and reducing the costs associated with manual data entry and processing.
Field supervisors are relieved of the administrative burden. Again, collecting these details electronically enhances awareness of employee experience and collection of competencies for a more effective use in the future.
• Document employee safety with mobile forms – By doing away with pen and paper and replacing those “tools” with mobile forms accessed, in apps, on smartphones and tablets, workers can more easily document job incidents and accidents as they happen. Job safety assessment and journey management processes can be enforced more effectively, as well as adjusted quickly and easily.
By capturing issues electronically, workers can swiftly ensure the effective management of workers’ compensation claims and expenses. With easily configurable forms, workers can also record daily incident reports – in real time – supporting awareness and escalation processes while minimizing delay.
• Streamline operations with mobile jobs – By consolidating all job details and accessibility for all roles within the operation on their mobile devices, there’s a reduction in dreaded paperwork and the need for printing and handing out physical daily assignment sheets. Now, the workers can be alerted to assignments via their mobile device, and accurately document the day’s activity plan, complete with job details, addresses and client information.
These details are automatically distributed to all systems within the business, dramatically improving the operational awareness to support better decision-making and quicker action to priority issues. Additionally, this is a great time saver as companies can eliminate the need for back and forth phone calls to iron out details, as outlined above. Workers now have the ability to update any job details, with a clear and governed process as well as document emergent activities on the fly to improve the efficiency of their day-to-day operations.
Leading construction companies are embracing cloud hosted mobile applications because they can be rapidly deployed (in days, not months), without requiring significant upfront time or costly hardware investments. Automating all of the tedious details that go into a successful project means that construction companies can focus on their business – designing and executing the projects at hand – not on the laborious details.
Stephen Smith has more than 15 years of experience defining and delivering mobile workforce management (MWFM) solutions covering vertical markets that include telecommunications, utilities, insurance, home services, medical equipment, capital equipment, and oil and gas operations. Aiding service organizations to optimize the use of their field resources, improve operational awareness, streamline process and establish controls while ensuring flexibility and variability are enabled within their operations. Prior to his current role as VP Strategic Industries, he managed ClickSoftware’s global solution consulting team, exposing MWFM benefits to new users and helping increase the benefits of existing users.