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Quantifying software's value for the AEC

Quantifying software's value for the AEC

by ROB McKINNEY, ConAppGuru | Jul 26, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I delivered a presentation for Procore Technologies on The Value of Construction Software. The webinar focused on the following three benefits of implementing construction software:

  1. Improved Communication
  2. Increased Collaboration
  3. Boosting Profits

With new technology available to construction companies, there are two choices to make when considering whether to adopt new technology: try new things and progress your company forward, or continue to manage your projects the old way, without investing in improvement.

The adoption of new technology allows companies to save time, money, and improve their bottom line. Constant access to data via software and mobile devices allows project members in the field to stay up to date with the most current set of project documents.

Improved communication

Sometimes there can be a big disconnect between the field and the office. There may only be a couple of miles between the office and the job site, but it’s amazing how many issues can occur on site that the office may be unaware of.

One of the key areas software helps improve construction projects is speeding up the real time communication and collaboration between team members. I have spoken with several seasoned construction workers who remember the days of driving to an office to pick up the latest set of plan revisions, searching for a pay phone to call in an RFI, or marking up an actual blueprint on a pickup truck hood. So, here are three areas of improvement:

  • Field to Office: How many times have you seen things develop on a jobsite that have not been properly communicated to the office? There has always been a lag between field and office. Construction software and mobile applications allow the superintendent in the the field to funnel information back to the project manager in the office much faster. A phone call can only convey so much. Instead, think about the power of a photo sent through text or email;
  • Office to Office: New cloud-based project management platforms allow companies to exchange information such as plans, specifications, and submittals in real time;
  • Field to Field: Mobile apps like Procore allow project superintendents to convey field issues to other team members (internal and external) in real time. Things are constantly happening on the job site that the office should be aware of ASAP, including damage to installed work, employee injuries, and updates made to drawings. Digital workflows now allow employees to work from the same page in real time without the risk of misinterpretation.
Tent Tech Talk: In May, McKinney gave the keynote at Procore's groundbreak 2015 conference in Santa Barbara.

Tent Tech Talk: In May, McKinney gave the keynote at Procore's groundbreak 2015 conference in Santa Barbara.

Increased Collaboration

To build a collaborative environment, you need a better way to communicate. Software platforms improve the way in which construction companies communicate internally and externally. Here, for example, are just some of the benefits a general contractor (GC) could expect:

  • GC to subcontractor: Cloud-based platforms allow a GC to share plans and markups in real time. This allows the site team to review project documents and generate RFI’s or change orders quickly without impacting the project schedule;
  • GC to owner: GCs can mark up plans for issues such as dimension busts, elevation changes or incompatible material, and share them with the design team to look for solutions;
  • GC to architect or engineer: General contractors can submit request for information for issues such as material substitution, undefined scope of work, or coordination of plans.

boost to profits

One question people often ask me is, “What is the ROI (return on investment) for that app?”  By this, they really mean to ask, How can software boost profits and increase the bottom line? Here are a few reasons why adopting software and mobile devices can help:

  • Improve Workflows: Companies can save cost on labor for completing tasks such as daily reports, taking progress photos, and documenting safety items;
  • Reduced Punchlist: Companies can share updates of contract documents and plans in real time and reduce the chance rework significantly.There will always be damaged items or things that are unapproved by owners. However, by using a cloud-based platform,  companies can complete punch list items faster and receive retainage quicker;
  • Save Money: By making the move away from paper-based workflows, companies can realize savings in paper costs. This is an easy ROI to achieve. Simply look back at the past few years and add up your printing cost for plans and specifications.

A certified Construction Risk and Insurance Specialist (CRIS), the author is an avid technology enthusiast and founder of ConAppGuru: A website dedicated to advancing tech use in the AEC communityBy day, he is also a construction risk engineer in the Atlanta office of global insurer XL Catlin.

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