That's Not data, That's a Piece of Paper
Improving Safety and Eliminating Process Inefficiencies with a Software Solution for
Data Capture and Analysis
By David Flynn, CFO at B2W Software
Safety is a critical and costly concern for heavy/highway contractors, and moving away from paper forms and paper-based processes presents opportunities to improve efficiencies and outcomes. By switching to electronic forms and a software solution for data capture and analysis, companies can collect better data in real time with less effort. More importantly, they can turn that data into actionable business intelligence.
Delivering safety-related documentation to the field is the first challenge. Paper limits portability and accessibility, and excessive time is often spent searching for forms and paperwork. A software solution puts electronic forms and documentation in one place, giving office as well as field personnel easy access to the correct versions.
A software system also allows contractors to generate safety forms quickly and easily. Electronic forms can be customized to capture the exact information needed. They are easy to complete on mobile devices in the field, increasing efficiency and compliance and eliminating opportunities for incorrect or misinterpreted data. Another important advantage over paper forms is the ability to include richer data (e.g., images, attachments, time stamps, and GPS information). The result is validated safety data from the field with a much higher level of quality, detail, and utility.
While these benefits are compelling, the most important safety advantages stem from the data within the forms and the ability to turn it into intelligence.
When safety data is contained on paper forms, compiling and analyzing it requires a time-consuming manual effort, which creates delays, increases administrative costs, and compromises the eventual effectiveness of the data.
Switching to electronic forms and a data capture and analysis application allows safety data to be mined from the forms to automatically create routine or customized reports and dashboards. These are valuable tools that companies can use to measure safety, drive improvement, and predict and prevent future incidents.
For example, a report that compares injury, near-miss, and toolbox talk statistics across the enterprise could reveal a need for increased training or compliance steps at specific jobsites or among specific employees.
Software can also generate alerts or notifications via e-mail, text, or within the application. When an injury or an accident is reported, for example, that injury form can trigger an immediate alert sent to relevant parties such as a superintendent, a safety officer, or an operator using a similar piece of equipment who might be able to use the information to prevent a similar incident.
As heavy/highway contractors look to improve operational workflows, safety should not be overlooked. An enterprise-wide system for data capture and analysis can reduce the time spent distributing and collecting safety-related data, improve the quality of that data, and enhance their ability to use the data to improve safety outcomes.
David Flynn, CPA, is the CFO of B2W Software in Portsmouth, NH. B2W Software has been serving heavy/civil construction companies for more than 25 years with unified applications for estimating, operations, and business intelligence. A member of CFMA’s Massachusetts Chapter, David participates on the Heavy/Highway Subcommittee and the Talking Heavy Task Force.