Are you responsible for managing others in the construction industry?
As a manager and leader in the construction industry, you face a constant flow of questions throughout your day.
You face pressures as an owner or manager to bring projects in safely, under budget and ahead of schedule. Others look to you to for answers. And if you don’t know the answers, they expect you to know where to find the answers.
The construction industry is constantly increasing in complexity. Building codes, insurance and safety requirements, and changes in product technology all contribute to more complex projects. This increase in complexity results in an exponential increase in construction data relating to those projects.
Managing construction data is a critical component of running a successful construction business. If you don’t manage your construction data, chances are much greater that situations will develop where the lack of data will make running your business successfully much more difficult.
Here are 5 key reasons why is it important to manage your construction data.
1. Improved Efficiency
As they say, time is money. You are either earning money by working efficiently or you are not making money, or worse, losing money working inefficiently. There is no in-between. You and your team need to be efficient. If you are doing productive work you want to find a way to get the work done faster to make more money. If the work you are doing is not directly contributing to your earning capability, you want to work at getting it done even faster!
How much time do your employees waste looking for information? Are they spending hours looking for documents or project information when they should be completing work that can increase the earnings of your company?
This is what we call an opportunity cost – if you are saying yes to one thing, you have to say no to everything else at that moment. If your teams are saying yes to searching for project information, they are saying no to activities which can earn your company money.
When you manage your construction data, you help improve the efficiency of your teams. You keep them focused on doing the work that matters most.
2. Reduce Risks
Have you ever received one of these phone calls?
They start out something like this – “Hi, Tom. This is Mr. Smith at XYZ Company. Your company did a project for us around 2 years ago and we are experiencing some big problems with the work that you did. We would like you to come out and review what is going on. And we feel that you might want to contact your insurance company. A claim might be needed.”
These calls can send a seasoned contractor into a cold sweat. You start doubting yourself immediately. Your mind begins to race with thoughts of the work that was done and what might have happened.
“Where did I put that project file?” You scramble to find any documents that you might have kept from the project. Without those project files and documents, defending a potential claim can be much harder.
Organizing your construction data and documents allows you to protect your business more effectively. As you build your business and complete projects, it is vital to maintain good records to help you shield your business against potential problems down the road.
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3. Improves Customer Service
An important part of many construction businesses is the follow-up service for clients after the project is completed. Construction is a relationship business. Clients want to know that you are there to support them after the project is done. Your ability to provide follow-up service may have been a large part of the reason you were able to contract the work.
Are you a painter? Do you keep track of the colors that you use to paint the interior or exterior of the structures that you work on? A customer may be inclined to contact you to ask you about the color. Do you have that information readily available?
Are you a roofing contractor? The job of a roofing contractor is not done after the project is finished. There are many opportunities for follow-up service including mechanical work and storm damage response. Are you able to respond quickly to the requests of your customers?
When you manage your construction data related to your finished projects, you are able to respond quickly to customer service requests. The difference between contracting your next job or losing it to a competitor may be your reputation for customer service. Organizing and managing your company’s data can give you a leg up against your competition.
4. Improves Financial Performance
How is your company performing financially? Are you making money? Many contractors don’t know if they have made money until the end of the year. By this time, there is no ability to course correct and make changes to influence performance. You are stuck with the results.
Peter Drucker is quoted as saying “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Are you measuring your progress at regular intervals throughout the year – or are you just closing your eyes and hoping for the best?
Successful construction companies complete successful construction projects. Prolonged success is the ability of owners and leaders to string together a series of successful construction projects. If a company cannot be successful on a single project, they look to recover on the next one. If they cannot be successful on a series of projects, chances are they may be going out of business.
How do you increase your chances of success? You track your construction data and organize it to measure your progress. The key here is to have ways to measure and manage your data. When you measure your performance and track your data, you can track your progress against the goals that you have set for your company.
When you manage your construction data you are not only managing project specific data, you are measuring the financial performance of your company. And when you measure your financial performance, you are better able to know when a course correction is needed.
5. Reduces Stress
It has been said that construction sites are the peacetime equivalent to war. When you look at project sites from the outside, they look completely chaotic. Equipment, materials and workers are everywhere. To the average person, a project may appear to be completely out of control.
The controlled chaos of a construction site typically results in high levels of stress for construction industry leaders. There is never a moment where a decision does not need to be made. Subcontractors, material deliveries, and customer relationship management can create sources of stress for a project leader.
Construction industry leaders are responsible for organizing chaos. They bring order to what would otherwise be a disorganized site. They help focus the members of the project team on the end goal of a successful project completed safely, beating the project budget, and bringing the job in ahead of schedule.
Not having project information readily available can significantly increase the stress for construction leaders. Questions from field members, customers, and building inspectors can put leaders on the spot. Information needs to be organized and readily accessible when a manager needs it.
When you manage your construction data, you are better able to respond to the constant flow of questions. Giving good responses with pertinent answers will help your crews perform better and will help reduce the stress that you feel as a leader in the construction industry.
There are many tools available to help you manage the data relating to your business. Accounting programs help you track the financial data relating to your projects and your business. Other programs such as Dataforma help contractors track project specific construction data including change orders and other data to improve company performance.
Implementing a construction data management system will help improve your company’s performance and chances for future success.